What to do with the family this summer

Thursday 13th August 2020

The summer holidays are in full swing, and we know many of you have been looking forward to a well-deserved break and spending time with your family and loved ones.

For many of our students, we know just how much you value this time with your children whilst they’re also on their school holidays.

It can sometimes be difficult to find things to do with your family during the summer break and and this year it feels even more tricky to find places that are open.

To help keep you and your family entertained over the summer, we’ve rounded up a range of online and outdoor activities as well as places that you can now visit across London.

Many activities are free, suitable for children of all ages and we’ve made sure to include options for those of you wanting to stay indoors.

If you have any ideas of your own you’d like to share, we’d love to hear them!

Take a virtual tour

Although a lot of museums and galleries are starting to re-open their doors after months of closure, many are running online tours for those who don’t feel ready for visiting public attractions just yet.

Many of these tours are free and can be accessed any time. If your kids are particularly fond of a tour or exhibition, they can visit them however many times they like!

Take a sneak peek behind London’s Zoos doors and get up close with lemurs, sloths and giraffes!

View their webcams and live streams, zookeeper videos and behind-the-scenes updates.

View the magical world of Harry Potter from your home thanks to the wonders of Google Earth!

Virtually visit all the places that inspired J.K Rowling, including the market that Diagon Alley is based on and the famous Platform 9 3/4.

NASA has granted the world amazing access to the surface of Mars! Take a virtual tour through the eyes of the 360-camera working on the surface of Mars and learn how the rover was transported to the planet.

The Natural History Museum has also made sure you and your kids can explore their exhibits and learn about the world around us from your sofa.

From learning about the life of the blue whale hanging from their Hintze Hall to flicking though the unbelievable Wildlife Photographer of the Year shots, there’s plenty to keep your family occupied.

Buckingham Palace recently opened its doors, albeit virtually, for the whole world to step inside.

Have a nosey around the Queen’s official residence, taking in the Throne Room, the Grand Staircase and much more.


Attractions open to the public

If you do fancy heading out and visiting your children’s favourite attraction or seeing a new exhibition, many museums are re-opening across the summer.

Do check the attraction’s website before you head out – most places now require pre-booked and timed tickets and some have cut down their opening hours.

If watching the animals online isn’t enough for your kids, they can meet creatures from around the world face-to-face at ZSL London Zoo this summer. The zoo re-opened at the beginning of June and have been selling pre-booked tickets online to ensure safe and social distanced visits.

The zoo is first and oldest scientific zoo in the world and houses over 750 species of animals. Depending on how much free time you have and how many animals your family want to see, you can take different routes around the zoo.

The Horniman Gardens have remained opened throughout lockdown, but they recently re-opened the doors of their museum on 30 July.

You can now visit their galleries of natural history, including the famous walrus, and learn about cultures from around the world throughout the museum, free of charge.

Their main cafe has also reopened and they’ve extended the Permian Monster exhibition until 3 January 2021 – perfect if your kids are monster and dinosaur mad!

The Science Museum will reopen on Wednesday 19 August 2020 and you can book your free, timed ticket now.

The museum is jam-packed with interactive and exciting things to do, for kids obsessed with computers, games and the solar system.

The Wonderlab: The Equinor Gallery and Exploring Space to Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries will also re-open, and the exhibition Driverless: Who is in control? has been extended to January 2021.

Both the Tate Modern and Tate Britain are now open again to the public, and you guessed it, you’ll need to pre-book a timed ticket if your family wish to visit each gallery.

Perfect for inspiring creativity in your kids, both galleries are free for the whole family.

Tate modern have created recommended routes for kids as well as games they can play whilst you look around. Take a look at their website here.

Royal Museums Greenwich reopened the Cutty Sark at the end of July.

Enjoy an action-packed day out with the whole family. Explore the ship, meet the captain, and discover the history of this famous ship, the fastest of its era!

You can also get a free child ticket with every paying adult until 31 August.


Head outdoors

We’ve all been making the most of the outdoors during lockdown, but why not discover new outdoor areas and activities with the kids if you’ve more spare time this summer?

There are so many parks and outdoor areas across London. With the weather looking good this summer, one thing you can do is take a walk and pack a picnic.

If you’d like to go somewhere new, there are plenty of parks in London with things going on for kids – just check that they’re definitely open before you head out.

If you’d like something a bit different to a park, why not head out off the beaten track to wildlife rich areas and make your very own nature trail?

Walthamstow Wetlands and Woodberry Wetland are now open and full of wildlife for your kids to spot. Print out a few activity sheets to educate and keep the whole family entertained.

Saddle up and head out to your local park or green space. If you have you own bikes, perfect, but if not, there are plenty of places to rent adult and kids bikes across London that aren’t too pricey.

Find out more about how to safely cycle around London here, including where and how to rent bikes and what cycling routes you can explore.

Who doesn’t love a good film? Cinemas are slowly starting to open again, but many places are running regular drive-in and outdoor cinemas.

Take a look at what’s on near you in London, from kids’ classics to new releases.

If London Zoo’s a bit too big and busy for your family’s liking, there are plenty of city farms you can visit across London.

Many farms are free or require a small donation and some offer events and activities, including horse and pony riding.

Again, we advise checking if they’re definitely open before visiting.


Learn something new

If you’d like to get your family learning something new over the summer holidays, there are so many free activities and courses available online.

Here are a few ideas, suggestions and resources out there for children of all ages:

London Learning at Home

London Learning at Home is a new Mayor of London initiative that brings together free learning and cultural offers for children of all ages.

Children aged 0 – 18 can access online performances, quizzes and activities to help them feel connected to the incredible people, places and culture of London.

See Inc.’s round-up

Get your kids inspired by tuning into a range of intriguing TED Talks.

Listen to new and innovative thinking on topics specifically for kids, from magic tricks to the power of introverts.

Grow Your Own Potatoes

If you have a garden or some spare green space, you could grow your own plants or food over the summer.

Grow Your Own Potatoes gives easy step-by-step instructions along with lessons and resources to learn more about potatoes.

BBC Good Food have hundreds of kids recipes.

Teach your family valuable lessons that will stay with them throughout life. Get them excited about food by teaching them how to cook healthy meals, speedy snacks, veggie dinners and exciting packed lunches. You could even learn a new recipe or two yourself!

See London Youth’s round-up

If you’re running out of ideas to inspire creativity in your kids after months of lockdown, London Youth have rounded up some brilliant resources and opportunities that young people can get involved in.

From theatre to hip-hop, your children could find a new passion for life.