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Fun Filled Family Day Trips From London With Kids

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If you’ve exhausted all of the London attractions with kids, or just want to explore more of the UK, then you’ll be happy to know that there are numerous attractions within an hour’s distance from the city that makes the perfect family day out. From beaches and theme parks to zoos and castles, there really is something for everyone.

In this article, I’ve put together some of my favourite family day trips from London, including the best ways to get there and all the things you can expect upon arrival. Whether you travel by car or train you’ll have options! So, if you’re looking for a fun way to entertain the kids at any point during the year, keep on reading!

Family Day Trips From London With Kids

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Beaches Near London

Family days out can get expensive, especially if you’re visiting theme parks and other ticketed attractions. If you’re after some budget-friendly family days out, then why not head to a beach about an hour or so out of London so your little ones can frolic around in the sand and maybe enjoy an ice cream (or two.)

Southend on Sea

Southend on Sea is the closest beach to London, and with over seven miles of coastline to explore it makes an ideal family day out in both summer and winter. The beach is actually split up into eight different beaches, some that are pebbly, some that are sandy, and some that are a mixture of the two. 

You can spend the entire day down at the beach, making sandcastles and splashing around in the shallows, or you can visit some other attractions in the Southend area like the Sealife Adventure aquarium, the Southend Pier and Railway, or one of the many museums that call Southend home. 

Getting There From London

Southend on Sea is roughly an hour’s drive from London’s city centre, and the journey is relatively straightforward.

  1. Take the A3211 to E Smithfield/A1203
  2. Then take the A13 and A127 to Carnarvon Road in Southend on Sea

By train: Alternatively, you can jump on a train which takes around 55 minutes from Fenchurch Street in London to Southend Central. 

Brighton

Brighton and its famous pebbly beach is slightly further away from London than Southend on Sea, but the beach and the city itself are beautiful, quirky, and definitely worth a visit. Pitch a spot right next to the pier, and head over to some old classic seaside fun with dodgems and waltzers.

As Brighton Beach is a popular location for kayaking and stand up paddle boarding, you can head over to one of the rental shops and give it a go for yourself. 

Similar to Southend on Sea, Brighton also has many other activities that you can fill your family day out with. Head over to Brighton’s Sea Life Centre, which is the oldest aquarium in the world, stroll down the city’s quaint and unique lanes or head up 450 feet for the best views of Brighton in the British Airways i360.

Getting There From London

The drive from London to Brighton takes around an hour and a half, with most of the journey consisting of motorways.

  1. Take the A3212 and Albert Embankment to Peckham – Camberwell – Vauxhall – Westminster Hwy/A202/A3036 in Vauxhall
  2. Follow A23, M23 and A23 to Brighton

By Train: An easier and shorter method of transport would be by train, which takes an hour from Victoria Station in London all the way down to Brighton.

Bekonscot Model Village

A place I fondly remember visiting as a kid with my grandparents – it is the oldest model village in the world. With tiny buildings, model railways stuck in a 1930s time warp it’s a lot of fun for kids. Make a day of it with the play areas and family tea room.

Getting there from London

A 50 minute drive, mostly on the M25

By train: Bekonscot is a short 5 minute walk from Beaconsfield station so you can be there in less than 45 minutes from London’s West End.

Theme Parks Near London

Theme parks, in my opinion, are a fantastic day out with kids, and whether your family is made up of absolute thrill seekers, or those who prefer more mellow rides, there are theme parks near London to suit all preferences. 

Legoland Windsor

Legoland Windsor is one of the top day trips from London, and if you have little Lego lovers, it’s one you won’t want to miss. The park has a mixture of rides and attractions, as well as impressive Lego statues and Lego-themed shows and entertainment. With 12 lands to explore, you can spend the entire day wandering around, having fun as a family. Top tip: Do get the Reserve and Ride option (Q-bot) as lines can get long in peak season!

Getting There From London

Driving from London to Legoland Windsor will take you 45 minutes, and to get there, you should follow these directions.

  1. Follow the A4 to the M4
  2. Follow the M4 to the A355 in Slough and take exit 6 from the M4
  3. Take the Royal Windsor Way/A332, Imperial Road/B3173 and B3022 to Legoland Drive

Train and Bus: Getting public transport to Legoland is slightly more confusing, however, it is still possible. You’ll need to catch a train from Paddington to Slough, then catch a bus from Slough to Staff Entrance, and finally walk 5 minutes to the Legoland park. 

Thorpe Park

If you have slightly older kids who love rollercoasters and the thrills of theme parks, then Thorpe Park is a one of the most fun day trips from London. The park has 5 major rollercoasters, one of which is the fastest in the UK, as well as a huge selection of other rides that are guaranteed to get your adrenaline pumping. 

There are also smaller attractions in the park aimed at younger children, but your child will need to be at least 90cm tall to ride. 

Getting There From London

In a car, you’re looking at around a 55-minute journey from London to Thorpe Park by following these directions: 

  1. From Knightsbridge, continue on the A4 and take the M4 to Stanwell Moor Road/A3044 in Longford
  2. At the roundabout, take the third exit onto Stanwell Moor Road/A3044
  3. Turn right toward London Road/A308
  4. Follow the A308 and A320 to Thorpe Park

Train and Bus. For those heading to Thorpe Park on public transport, you’ll need to get a train from Waterloo Station to Staines and then get a bus from the Staines Bus Station to Thorpe Park.

Chessington World Of Adventures

The final theme park near London that is worth mentioning is Chessington World of Adventures, which also has a zoo and a sea life centre. The park has over 40 rides, some of which may be too intense for younger children, but there are a good selection of smaller rides to keep the little ones entertained. 

In Chessington’s zoo and sea life centre combined, there are over 1,000 animals which you can see up close in enclosures and on the Zufari: Ride Into Africa ride.

Getting There From London

Chessington is 40 minutes out of London and to get there by car you should:

  1. Follow The Mall and Constitution Hill to Duke of Wellington Pl
  2. Continue on Duke of Wellington Pl to Grosvenor Cres/B310
  3. Then follow B310, B319 and Walton St to Fulham Rd./A308
  4. Continue to Chelsea
  5. Get on Kingston Rd/A3 from A308 and A219
  6. Follow A3 and A243 to Chessington

Train and bus: The public transport route to Chessington requires you to get on a train from Waterloo Station to Chessington South, then get on a bus to Chessington World of Adventures.

Castles

Another great budget-friendly day trip from London is to one of the many magnificent castles in and around the area. 

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is one of my favourite castles as it is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. William the Conqueror founded the castle in the 11th century, and 40 monarchs have lived in it ever since. 

As I’m sure you can imagine, there are many rooms throughout the castle to explore, including ceremonial rooms furnished with gold and rooms with paintings from some of the world’s most famous artists. The Queen Mary Dolls House is wonderful to see

Getting There From London

Windsor Castle is 50 minutes away from London by car, and you can get there by following these simple directions:

  1. Take the A4 to the M4
  2. Follow the M4 to Major’s Farm Road/B470 in Slough
  3. Take exit 5 from the M4
  4. Follow the B470 to Castle Hill in Windsor

Train and bus: The public transport route to the castle is substantially quicker as it will only take you 30 minutes from London. To get to the castle, you’ll need to catch a train from Paddington to Slough and then get a bus from Slough to Windsor and Eton Central. 

Hever Castle, Kent

Hever Castle is another castle to add to your fun day trips from London list, and with 125 acres of magnificent gardens, a 38-acre lake, and the castle itself, you can spend the entire day strolling around, appreciating the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII.

The grounds at Hever Castle are also home to mazes, playgrounds, a military museum, and jousting events which your little ones are bound to love. 

Getting There From London

From London, Hever Castle is roughly an hour and fifteen minutes drive away. The directions are as follows:

  1. Take the A3212 and the A302 to New Kent Rd/A201
  2. Follow the A2, A20 and the M25 to Bessels Green Road in Riverhead, Sevenoaks
  3. Take the B2042 to Hever Road in Hever

Train: And for those wishing to travel by train, you can catch a train at London Bridge Station to Hever which takes just under an hour and then walk the 20-minute walk to the castle. 

Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour

Other Attractions Near London

Warner Brothers Studio Tour

One of the best rainy days trips from London, especially if you have Harry Potter fans, is to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter in Watford. The tour takes you through how the iconic movies were made as well as showcasing the costumes the actors wore, the sets where some memorable scenes were filmed, and the props that were used throughout the movies.

You also learn all about special and visual effects, how the magical creatures were brought to life on the big screen, and how the makers of the movies initially designed the sets we all know and love. 

Something my kids love in particular are the numerous gift shops, restaurants, and cafes where you can purchase Harry Potter merchandise, drink butter beer, and eat chocolate frogs or Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans. For more London Harry Potter experiences, see here.

Getting There From London

It’ll take around 45 minutes to drive from London to the Warner Brother’s Studio Tour, and you can do this by:

  1. Taking the A4201, Prince Albert Road/A5205 and Avenue Road/B525 to Adelaide Road/A41. 
  2. Then get onto High Road in Watford from the A41, M1 and N Western Avenue/A41.
  3. Continue on High Road until you reach the studios.

If you don’t have a car, then you can catch a train from London Euston Station to Watford Junction before jumping on a bus. You’ll need to get the bus from the station to Ashfields and then walk roughly 10 minutes to the Studios. 

Colchester Zoo

Colchester Zoo

Zoos are one of the best activities for families because who doesn’t love looking at animals? Colchester Zoo has over 180 species of animals as well as indoor and outdoor play areas, a cute little train, and hand feeding opportunities with some of the zoo’s most friendly residents.

Getting There From London

Colchester Zoo is about an hour, and a halves drive from London, but if you don’t mind a little road trip, it’s worth it. 

  1. Get on the M11 in Woodford from the A3211, A1203, A1261, and A13, and take exit 4
  2. Follow the M11, M25 and the A12 to Essex Yeomanry Way/A1124 in Essex. 
  3. Take exit 26 from the A12
  4. Continue on Essex Yeomanry Way/A1124 to Colchester Zoo

Taking public transport will result in an hour and fifty-minute journey. You’ll need to take a train from Liverpool Street to Colchester Town, then catch a bus from Osbourne Street to Colchester Zoo.

London Zoo lemur
London Zoo lemur

London Zoo

One of the most famous zoos in the UK is London Zoo, and if you don’t want to travel too far, it is the perfect option as it’s only 15 minutes away from the city centre. London Zoo has thousands of animals that call its ground home, and I could personally walk around the zoo all day. 

Getting There From London

The best way to get to London Zoo from the centre of London is by bus. Catch the bus at Trafalgar Square and ride it until you get to Prince Albert Road. Then walk the 13-minute walk to London Zoo.

Kew Royal Botanical Gardens

Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, Richmond

If you’re sick of the city, then Kew is by far one of the best family day trips from London. The Kew Gardens are world famous and a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to their abundance of flowers and plant life in total, there are over 50,000 living plant species, and even if you aren’t a huge lover of flowers, you can truly appreciate the collection Kew has put together.

Getting There From London

Kew is only a 30-minute drive from London, making it another perfect family day out for those who don’t wish to travel far.

  1. Follow The Mall and Constitution Hill to Duke of Wellington Place
  2. Take the A4 and the A205 to Kew Gardens in Richmond
  3. Turn right and continue on to Kew Gardens

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