London can be an expensive city to visit, especially if you are going as a family and want to pack in loads of activities. Luckily there are loads of free museums to enjoy, including the Science Museum, which is one of my personal favourites.
Thinking about a trip there soon? You’ll find tips for visiting the London Science Museum with children in this post as well as some of our favourite sections.
The Science Museum can be found on Exhibition Road, South Kensington. Transport links are fantastic with South Kensington or Gloucester Road tube stations only 5-10 minutes walk away. There are also a couple of bus stops near the entrance or just around the corner so there are plenty of options available.
Bus routes 14, 49, 70, 74, 345, 360, 414, 430 and C1 stop outside South Kensington Underground Station.
Bus routes 9, 10, 52, 452 and 70 stop outside the Royal Albert Hall on Kensington Gore.
There is no parking available at the Science Museum but the nearest pay and display car parking is in Prince Consort Road and Queen’s Gate.
At the minute it is advisable to book tickets online in advance which will guarantee you entry on your day and time of choice. Slots are limited but there are quite a lot to choose from and we found booking a time that we wanted was really easy and we could have chosen from loads.
Tickets do also seem to be available on the day but when we visited there was a huge queue outside for this. I think arriving before opening time at 10am will give you the best chance and maybe the shortest wait to get in otherwise you kind of have to risk it. With children I wouldn’t recommend it as you’re not guaranteed to get in without a pre-booked ticket.
During term time the museum is open Wednesday–Sunday, 10.00–18.00 (last entry 17.15).
During school holidays the museum is open Monday–Sunday, 10.00–18.00 (last entry 17.15).
What to see and do
There are quite a few different levels at the Science Museum so there’s obviously a lot to see and unless your child is super patient I doubt you’re going to get to look at everything, especially not in great details. So, what I thought I would do is just talk about a couple of the things we loved and what Erin’s favourites were.
What I will say is the more fun stuff is on the lower levels so it’s worth starting at your top and working your way down to get the other bits out fo the way first.
Something you cannot miss on level 0 is Exploring Space. Actually, you kind of can’t miss it as you have to walk through it to get to other areas of the museum. Anyway, here there are really good models of spaceships, astronaut’s clothes and a massive planet that changes just hanging around in the air. Erin was pretty amazed and really loved watching it change and then we could talk about what it had changed to.
Most of level 1 is dedicated to medicine in one way or another and we all LOVED everything here. You’ll be able to learn about different medical procedures, what happened when people died, have a good look at inside bodies and also look at medical instruments.
This section was really cool and so much fun to look around but it is very anatomically correct and not for the feint hearted in places. Erin isn’t squeamish though and really loved how much detail there was everywhere. That’s something to consider when taking your children to this level but to be expected in a gallery about medicine.
Level 2 and 3
I’ll be honest, because we spent so much time on level 0 and 1 and then at the specific areas for children we were coming to the end of our time at the Science Museum when we got round to going to level 2 and 3. However, what you can see is a fabulous collection of clocks if this is something you’re interested in or you can look at technology and how it’s changed over the years. This might be something that would interest slightly older children.
Bookable children’s experiences
Located on floor -1 The Garden is suitable for ages 3-6 and I remember taking Erin here when she was about 2 and it still being fine for her. Tickets for The Garden must be booked online and are done in different time slots throughout the day, each lasting for 20 minutes. We found the time slots to run very tightly so make sure you arrive at least 5 minutes before yours is due to start.
Inside The Garden you’ll find lots of sensory equipment where children can learn about things such as light, sound, touch and construction. Usually there is a great water area too but due to Covid aprons cannot be lent out to children so this has been closed for the time being.
At age 5 there was enough for Erin to do but much older and I definitely think she would have outgrown The Garden.
Just like The Garden, Pattern Pod is another interactive area for children but tickets must be booked in advance online. You can find Pattern Pod on floor 0, right at the end as you pass through Space and Making the Modern World. Sessions for Pattern Pod are 20 minutes long and are aimed at children under 8. I have to say, I think 8 would be a real push as Erin didn’t find this area nearly as much fun as The Garden.
Pattern Pod allows children to explore all different kinds of patterns such as shapes, footprints of different animals, creating symmetry or a really cool area to dance in (or just move around) while the screen makes patterns based on what you’re doing.
When going anywhere with children something you’re always looking for is toilets and most places don’t have nearly enough. The Science Museum seem to have toilets everywhere… at least in a couple of different places on each floor anyway. It was never too far between each one and if you’re with young children especially then this is such a good thing.
Food and drink
There are a few different places to eat at the Science Museum with various options available. There are areas where you’re able to take your own food to eat including the Basement Cafe on level -1 or a picnic area on level 3. Our entrance time was 12pm so we took our own food and headed straight down to -1 and sat on the steps to have some food before we started.
Other options include the Energy Cafe on level 0 which is open from 10-5:30 year round serving things like pizza, sandwiches and drinks. Some of the other food outlets such as the Basement Cafe or The Diner are only open during school holidays so it’s worth checking on the website before your visit.
We spent a huge 4 hours at the Science Museum and I think this was just about the right amount of time for Erin. Towards the end she got tired and had had enough but really enjoyed the first few hours and what we saw. I would say that before a trip have a look on the website and see what there is to see and then make a plan. This way, you won’t miss out on the things you do want to see and not drag kids around the bits they might not be as interested in.
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