If you’re wondering what you can do in London with kids when you really don’t want the stress of getting back on the tube at South Kensington, this lovely museum in Bethnal Green is exactly what you need.
It's a great rainy day activity (or a sunny day, this museum looks beautiful with the sun streaming through the windows) away from the hubbub of central London. Just enough to see in a few hours, even on it’s busiest days, it’s not too overwhelming.
The ground floor is filled with nostalgic toys that grown-ups will recognise and reminisce about, and daily indoor activities for kids can be found such as multi-sensory storytelling and drop-in arts and crafts sessions. Upstairs are further cabinets filled with toys, play areas and the current exhibitions and displays. Oh and a sandpit. If you don’t want them in the sandpit and don’t want a tantrum, then avoid the upper right corner. Last time we were there we avoided a tantrum, but my three-year-old did try to get in and started taking his trousers off. Who does that? Anyway…
You can also pick up a Montessori sensory bag from reception, which is different for each age. You can only take one at a time, so if you have different ages of children you have to choose! We went for the 3-4 age bag which was filled with toy cars and emergency vehicles, and Ollie enjoyed them just as much as Zach did. Schoolchildren often visit in the mornings, so it is recommended that a visit after 2 pm is best on a weekday.
The cafe has the usual kids ‘4 items for too much money’ deal and soup, sandwiches, hot and cold drinks, there aren't loads of options, but then it’s a museum, not a restaurant. If you want to bring food with you, you’re in luck because they have a bright and airy dining hall with not too sticky tables!
The one downside to this museum for a lot of people is the location. Being further out in Bethnal Green it can be a bit of a pain if you’re coming from central London, and kids might not love the walk from the station, but you can get a bus if you prefer. Alternatively, you can take a train from Liverpool St to Cambridge Heath which is slightly closer. The location also means there aren’t loads of great places to eat nearby with kids, so I would recommend bringing food if you’d rather not eat at the museum.
All in all, I think this might be one of my favourite museums. Nostalgic for grown-ups, great fun for kids and not as hard to keep track of their whereabouts. What more could you want from a museum?
You can find out more over on their website: