From the September 2010 issue of National Geographic Traveler
Rain Forest Romp
From beefeaters to ravenmasters, unexpected eccentricities will delight young visitors in London. You can find life-size plaster dinosaurs in Crystal Palace Park and a living rain forest at the London Zoo in Regent’s Park. Monkeys swing through the tropical canopy at the Clore Rainforest Lookout, a glass-roofed bio-dome that doubles as a breeding ground for endangered species. The Nightzone provides insight into how the nocturnal inhabitants come alive after dark.
The Secret Life of Trees
With over 40,000 plant varieties, the 300-acre Kew Gardens (District Line or London Overground) is another great place to celebrate biodiversity. Sixty feet above ground, the Xstrata Treetop Walkway offers a giddying glimpse into the life of trees. The snaking metal walkway was designed by the architects of the London Eye, which is visible through the foliage.
Beat the Bad Weather
Equally environmentally friendly, the Solarshuttle is an elegant solar-powered boat that cruises across the Serpentine lake in Hyde Park every half hour. Excess energy is stored in batteries to keep it afloat even on overcast days. The Solarshuttle has two extra steering wheels so kids can play skipper. More energetic families can explore the Serpentine on a pedal boat or rowboat, available from BlueBird Boats.
Duck and Chips
With alfresco seating and duck viewing right on the lake, the Serpentine Bar and Kitchen serves breakfast and makes delicious wood-fired pizza for lunch. Give in to your child’s love of French fries (just remember they’re called chips here) by treating them to Britain’s national dish. Two of the oldest chippies—complete with retro decor—are Rock and Sole Plaice (47 Endell St., Covent Garden tube) and George’s Fish Bar (329 Portobello Rd., Ladbroke Grove tube), Jamie Oliver’s favorite fast-food joint.
Dream With Dinosaurs
Eight- to eleven-year-old fans of Night at the Museum can relive the experience at Dino Snores, a monthly sleepover at the Natural History Museum. The all-night event includes close encounters with meerkats and millipedes, torch-lit trails, and sleeping beneath a life-size Diplodocus skeleton. Across Exhibition Road, the Science Museum also hosts sleepovers. Book both events well in advance.