What to see and do at the Science Museum with the kids.
The Science Museum is a fantastic FREE day out in London for kids of all ages. I know, it sounds impossible! The mere mention of the word London and you can double or triple the price of just about everything. But it turns out that you can have a great day out in the Capital, without it costing too much.
We are lucky enough to live just an hour away from London by train. One of the main things that puts me off visiting too regularly is the cost of rail travel. What I didn’t realise, is that Southern Rail offer a group discount of 34% for groups of 3 – 9 people. Time to invite the Grandparents or Aunts and Uncles!
It cost us £13.40 each for a travel card, which is usually £20.20. Child tickets are just £2 and under 5s are free.
The Science Museum is a short walk from South Kensington tube station, which I was grateful for given that it was absolutely heaving it down with rain on the day that we visited. Thankfully, there was no queue to get in even though it was a Saturday.
Entrance to the museum is absolutely free, which is amazing, but if you are able to make a donation then fantastic. There are additional charges for 3D Imax theatre, stimulators and special exhibitions.
Tickets to the newly opened Wonderlab, which promises 50 mind-blowing marvels of science to enjoy are £8 per adult and £6 per child over 4. We didn’t go to the wonderlab on this occasion as it seemed aimed at children 6+, but it looked like a lot of fun and we’ll be going back with little J when he’s a bit older.
If you want to catch an IMAX show or see what’s going on, there are handy digital screens displaying the line up of activities during your visit.
Having visited the Science Museum as I child, I was surprised to see how huge it was. I really don’t remember it being so vast and if you’re visiting with young children, unless they’re incredibly patient (ha ha, as if), don’t expect to see the whole thing in one visit.
If you visit at the weekend, be aware it’s super busy and quite dark in some areas, so little ones to get lost in the blink of an eye if you’re not careful.
What to see
We spent some time exploring the first floor, where my son loved seeing the space rockets, satellites and an astronaut. Met Eric a replica of the UK’s first robot (and a dead ringer for the tin man from the Wizard of OZ, I thought). We also enjoyed seeing the giant steam engines in the Energy Hall.
Hidden in the depths of the Science Museum basement we found the garden. Aimed at children aged 3-6, this facility is a fantastic spot for the kids to let off some steam. It’s jam-packed with interactive sensory activities!
There was a bit of a queue to get in, but thankfully they had some giant slinkies for the kids to play with while they waited. When we finally reached the front of the queue, my son did the classic ‘mummy I need a weeeeee’ thing, but thankfully the staff were understanding and let us rejoin the front of the queue after our toilet trip.
When we finally made it into the garden, my son made a beeline for the water play table and despite the waterproof coveralls provided, promptly soaked his entire upper body. If you too have a child that is prone to enthusiastic waterplay, I recommend a change of top. He happily played with the building blocks, hall of mirrors and made a lot of noise in the music zone.
In the basement there is also a cafe and a large area to sit and eat your lunch if you are organised and bring it with you. The secret life of home is down there too, with an array of kitchen gadgets which my son enjoyed because you could push buttons to see them work. Always a winner with him!
Dining options nearby
By this point, we’d been at the museum for several hours. We decided to cut our losses leave the Science Museum and go for a late lunch at Comptior Libanais. Just a short walk along Exhibition road there are a selection of bars and restaurants, right next to South Kensington tube stop. I made several longing glances in the direction of Harrods, but it was time to head back home.
So, is it worth taking a 4-year-old to the Science Museum? Absolutely! If you’re visiting London or you live fairly close, I highly recommend it. There are such amazing things to show your little ones and they are sure to love the garden. We will definitely return, lots more exciting things to see next time.
Here are my 10 tips for taking your child to the Science Museum:
- Invite friends and family, save on your rail fair.
- If you have young children, you can get a wristband (to write your contact details on) from the Information desk in case they get lost.
- Take your lunch with you, there’s plenty of picnic spots.
- Look at the map before you go and plan which areas are most relevant to your child’s age group.
- Bring a change of clothes in case your child gets wet in the garden.
- Go early in the morning to avoid long queues in the garden.
- Use the digital screens to help plan your day.
- If you’re visiting in winter and have thick jackets, it gets very hot inside. You can drop them off at the Cloakroom along with buggies and bags etc, so that you don’t have to carry them around with you.
- Be aware that some attractions such as the Wonderlab, IMAX and simulators are chargeable.
- Don’t expect to see the whole museum in one go, just prioritise the things you think your kids will enjoy.
Have you taken your children to London? Let me know in the comments below.
Why not pin it for later?