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8 Exciting Things to do in East London With Kids

8 Exciting Things to do in East London With Kids

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Are you planning a trip to London with kids and aren’t sure where to go? Keep scrolling to find out some things to do in East London with kids that you probably haven’t heard of!
This list of the best things to do in East London with kids was co-written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

Guest post by Fiona Spinks

East London is often overlooked as a place to explore, but this part of the UK’s capital city has lots of things to do with children. Museums, parks, playgrounds – you’ll find a bit of everything here.

I might be a little biased as an East London resident, but I do recommend heading east to see more of the city. 

So let’s a look at at you should take your kids to explore East London and what you should be doing there. 

Why East London is a Great Family Destination

If you are visiting London for several days, venture east to check out more of what the city as to offer families. 

Many neighbourhoods in East London have been transformed in recent years. Places like Hackney, Leyton, Stratford and Shoreditch have become more popular with young professionals and families.

Here’s the Shoreditch area of East London.

These changes mean that more and more sites are opening that are focused on family fun. You’ll find new play centres as well as historic buildings and parks.  

The 2012 Olympics played a big part in this, and more than 10 years later the area around the Olympic Park is still developing.

New apartment blocks are being built all over East London, and the Olympic Park will also be getting its own outpost of the Victoria and Albert Museum in the next few years. 

It’s also easy to get around London via the city’s excellent public transport network, with Tube lines, the DLR and London’s extensive bus network covering the area. 

Things To Do In East London with Kids

Discover Children’s Story Centre

I have nothing but high praise for Discover. It’s located in Stratford, and it’s fantastic, especially for younger children. The purpose of Discover is to help children learn through play. There is a large outdoor playground with various structures to climb.

Image of the Discover Center in East London.
Photo credit: Fiona Spinks

There are two main levels in the building. One of them is designed as a magical forest, and the second is themed around Sky and Space. 

Little ones will enjoy all the tactile displays, floor panels that light up or make noise when they stand on them, picture blocks and stories. Slightly older children have plenty of things to climb on, colour in and read.

Image of the Discover Center in East London.
Photo credit: Fiona Spinks

They also have additional facilities for special events, including story sessions and an exhibition space where a lower level of the building is decorated to create the world of a recent book.

Discover also emphasizes accessibility – all parts of the centre have step-free access. There is a monthly British Sign Language story session.

Monthly sensory sessions with reduced lights and noise, and sessions for children with Special Education Needs all contribute to ensuring all visitors can enjoy what Discover has to offer. 

Young V&A

Once the rather dreary Museum of Childhood, this classic school trip location in Bethnal Green was revamped in 2023 and renamed the Young V&A. And the new version is vastly superior to the old. 

Image of Young V&A in East London
Photo credit: Fiona Spinks

It has much more focus on play and creativity than it did before. It’s brighter and more colourful. Kids can dress up and perform on a small theatre stage. There are interactive displays, and play areas. It’s a museum where kids can make noise (within reason!) and have fun.

You can still find displays around the history of childhood, toys from different eras, and challenges that children face in different parts of the world, but overall it is much more appealing to children than pre-renovation.

The Young V&A is also perfect if you are looking for activities on a budget – it is open 7 days a week, and admission is free. 

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

The Olympic Park has a few different things to offer children. There are several playgrounds dotted around the park, including one sitting between the Westfield Shopping Centre and Stratford International Station with a giant fish for them to climb on

Another playground, Tumbling Bay, has rope bridges and short zip lines to climb on, as well as a tree house and sand pits. 

The Olympic Park has lots of green space for kids to run around and explore, as well as a canal on which you can rent swan pedalos in the summer. 

Image of The ArcelorMittal observation tower and London Olympic Stadium in Stratford, London.
The ArcelorMittal observation tower is a popular family attraction in London.

ArcelorMittal Orbit, the large red structure visible around the park, is currently being refurbished, but once it reopens in summer 2024, kids can experience the world’s longest tunnel slide.  

You might only associate the Olympic Park with Westfield (which also has a cinema and bowling alley) and West Ham’s football ground, but there is also a lot for kids to enjoy there.

City Farms

Visitors to London might be surprised to see that there are several city farms in various parts of the city. East London has Spitalfields, Hackney, Stepney, and Mudchute City Farms. They all offer similar activities, so picking one will generally depend more on your location than anything else. 

Children can meet various farm animals, learn about nature, and during school holidays they’ll find workshops to join in with. Most of the city farms run on a donation basis rather than charging admission, so they are another great budget option. 

I would recommend checking the website of the nearest one to you, to see what activities are on that week as well as the current opening hours. 

Museum of London Docklands

The Museum of London Docklands is underrated in my opinion. It’s slightly more complicated to get to than other London museums, but in the grand scheme of the London public transport network it’s still very accessible.

Image of Museum of London Docklands
Photo credit: Fiona Spinks

It relies on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) which is often a hit with kids in itself, especially if they can get the coveted front seats on these driver-less trains.

The museum is in an old warehouse and tells the history of the Docklands part of London. That might not sound particularly interesting for children, but the museum has lots of interactive displays. They can build a tunnel from soft bricks, walk through a Victorian street and play dress up.

Like many London museums, they also have special workshops during school holidays. There are also free trail maps to encourage kids to hunt down specific items or fill in puzzles.

For older children, the museum doesn’t shy away from some of the darker parts of history. The museum houses exhibitions on the slave trade and the Windrush generation.

The main museum is free, but there is also a large soft play area, Mudlarks, that offers paid play sessions for children up to 8 years old. If you want to go to Mudlarks, I would recommend you pre-book. 

Lee Valley Ice Centre

The Lee Valley leisure centres cover a variety of activities, and the Ice Centre is a very popular one. There are public skating sessions most days, although you should check the website as the timetable can change depending on other events and activities being hosted.

You can even book in to a Disco ice skating session on Friday and Saturday evenings. You can hire skates at the centre and everyone from beginner to expert is welcome.

If you live near enough for a regular visit, you can also sign up to their skating classes including Snow Tots, for 2-5 year olds.

There is also the related Lee Valley White Water Centre with rafting and kayaking, but it’s just outside the M25 to the north of the city so doesn’t really qualify for this particular list! If you have access to a car and feel like getting completely soaked, it might still be worth a visit. 

Victoria Park

London has many parks, including Victoria Park in East London. ‘Vicky Park’ is large enough to have several playgrounds with plenty of climbing frames for children to enjoy.

London/UK - 11/11/19 - Brightl colors and people enjoying autumn in Victoria Park
Kids love running around Victoria Park.

The park has a skateground and loads of space for kids to run around to their heart’s content. You’ll find various birds and ducks on the lake, as well as some sculptures. 

There is also a farmer’s market on Sundays, and two cafes, perfect for a visit to London in spring

Kidspace Romford

Ok, technically this is Essex but it’s inside the M25 and to the east of the city centre so I’m counting it. Plus, Kidspace Romford is a short walk from the Romford Elizabeth line station – the best line on the TfL network – so it is still easy to access from central London. 

Kidspace is aimed at children up to age 12, and there is plenty for them to do with a 2-hour session. Once you get there, you’ll find a massive indoor play space with tunnels and climbing frames, a climbing wall, indoor Go Karting and more. There is also a soft play space for younger children. 

The Oceanarium, a virtual aquarium is also hugely popular (and included in the price of your general admission). 

Book in advance to make sure you get a ticket and aim for a morning session – afternoons can be rather rowdy.

East London for Kids FAQs

What are the best kid-friendly attractions in East London?

East London is home to the V&A Museum of Childhood, beautiful parks like Victoria Park, and the Discover Children’s Story Centre, perfect for young explorers.

Are there any free activities for kids in East London?

Yes! Many parks, such as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and some museums offer free entry, making them great for family outings without spending a lot.

Is East London safe for family visits?

East London, like much of the city, is safe for families during the day. Always stay aware of your surroundings, especially in busier areas.

Can we find family-friendly dining in East London?

Absolutely! East London boasts a variety of family-friendly restaurants and cafes with menus that cater to younger taste buds.

Are there any interactive experiences for kids in East London?

Yes, places like the Discover Children’s Story Centre offer interactive and educational experiences tailored for children.

What transportation is best for families traveling around East London?

The London Underground and buses are family-friendly, with options for strollers. Consider an Oyster card for the best rates on public transport.

Where can we find outdoor activities for kids in East London?

Victoria Park and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park offer spacious areas for picnics, playgrounds, and water features for children to enjoy.

Things to do in East London with Kids Wrap-Up

So, hopefully by now you can see now that London is far more than just the central area! East London is full of innovative places to visit that are perfect for children, from creative spaces to museums and activity centres. 

East London has plenty to offer for a fun-filled day with the family, whether you want to focus on physical activity, or learning and education. 

So next time you plan a family outing in London, don’t forget to check out the gems in East London. You might just discover your new favourite spot!

About Fiona

Fiona is a London native who loves to help visitors explore her home city through her blog Following Fiona. She has also completed adventures in other parts of the world as a solo traveler, including a 48-state USA road trip and a year living in New Zealand.

Looking for more kid-friendly London travel resources? Check out 11 Terrific Things to Do in London with a Toddler, 15 Lovely London Tours for Families Worth Booking, 27 Lovely London Things To Do for Kids, 11 Desirable Day Trips from London by Train, Things I Wish I Knew Before Going to London, and 10 Lovely Family-Friendly Hotels in London!

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