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Top 10 Family Activities in South Bank

May 30th, 2022 | by Tom Harrow-Smith
Sea Life

Family Guide to South Bank

South Bank is full of family friendly attractions, from the world famous London Eye to the smaller and charming Florence Nightingale or Garden museums. If you're planning a family trip to London, South Bank has it all, here's our Top Ten guide to the best child friendly attractions and activities.

  • The London Eye

    Does it need a second introduction? The London Eye has been giving visitors to the capital the ultimate birds eye view since 2000 and shows no sign of letting up with 3.5million taking to the skies in one of its 32 pods every year. Did you know, the reason for having 32 pods is to represent each of the London Boroughs, though they are numbered 1-33 to avoid the fate of riding in ‘Pod Number 13’, which doesn’t exist! You can also enjoy a London Eye river cruise that departs from the pier adjacent to the big wheel to cap off your London sightseeing adventure. Plus, to get more value for money, you can save by buying group tickets to all Merlin attractions in South Bank.

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  • SEA LIFE London Aquarium

    Who wants to go to the seaside this summer? Well at SEA LIFE London you can go one step better and dive below the waves themselves to see all sorts of marvellous underwater creatures. Ever wanted to come face to face with turtles, penguins, rays and sharks? Come face to face with penguins and turtles to sharks and rays plus almost everything in between. There's 14 different zones to discover, from Coral Kingdom to the Rainforest Adventure and the Atlantic Coast and over 500 species on display, you'll be able to spend hours learning about these unique creatures and the habitats they thrive in. It's a family day out that everyone can enjoy.

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  • Florence Nightingale Museum

    Open Wednesday to Sunday, families have been enjoying The Florence Nightingale Museum since the 1980’s and is all about celebrating the life of this trailblazing woman and the founder of modern nursing. Full of child friendly exhibits including a Family Trail, the story of Florence has inspired generations of children toward a career in nursing and medicine and will be sure to do so for many years to come. This small yet charming museum has recently reopened to the public on a permanent basis after feeling the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic – making it the perfect time to visit and learn all about the ‘Lady with the lamp’!

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  • Shrek's Adventure

    This might just be South Bank’s cult tourism experience thanks to the enduring legacy of the Shrek film franchise - making it popular not just with families and children but young at heart adults too. As to be expected from an attraction called ‘Shrek’s Adventure’, this is a totally bonkers and high adrenaline ride, but that’s all part of its unique charm. Where else would you be able to ride to the Land of FarFarAway and meet Shrek? This immersive, walkthrough experience, similar in style to London Dungeon with different rooms featuring a cast of different actors from the Muffin Man to the Barmaid of the Poison Apple Pub.

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  • The Garden Museum

    With all things botanical making something of a comeback these past few years, having the only museum in the UK dedicated to the art, history and design of gardens in South Bank is a great reason to visit the area if you’re a particularly green fingered family. This friendly museum is filled with unique and interactive exhibits plus, as the name suggests, a great outdoor garden to unwind and see a fantastic range of flora and fauna. Families can pick up activity sheets on arrival and there’s even an award winning café on site. Set inside a former church that goes back to medieval times, it’s also just a very atmospheric place to while a way an hour or two.

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  • BFI IMAX

    Having the UK’s largest 3D cinema screen right here in South Bank means that you can watch the latest blockbusters in the best way possible. Seeing a film here is like nothing else - digital surround sound, a screen almost as high as five double-decker buses, 489 seats (including 69 premier seats), and that's just inside the auditorium.  The giant glass drum of the BFI IMAX, London's (in fact, the UK's) largest state-of-the-art cinema, boasts a 20m by 26m cinema screen and a sound system of over 12,000 watts. 

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  • Jubilee Garden Adventure Playground

    Need to let the kids run off some steam? Located at the foot of the London Eye is Jubilee Gardens, which has it's very own free to use adventure playground. Not only that, it's fresh from an upgrade, aptly in time for the Jubilee itself, with brand new installations including a new large Play Ship to let imaginations run wild, new sensory and accessible items such as Conferences, talking tubes and a Rocking Plate and a bespoke Pairs Game, including icons associated with London and the South Bank. The playground caters for all children from toddlers to age 11 by offering enough risk that users with high physical ability have opportunities to push themselves while also ensuring there are numerous accessible opportunities for play for those with disabilities to engage with and join in with other children.

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  • The Appearing Rooms

    Delighting children of all ages since 2007, it wouldn't be summer without Jeppe Hein's Appearing Rooms fountain.This interactive sculpture is the brainchild of Danish artist Hein, whose combination of architecture and technology produces sculptures which are joyful, engaging and playful. His Appearing Rooms fountain shoots jets of water into the air, creating rooms that disappear as quickly as they emerge. The design is meant to be interactive, so children are encouraged to cool off amongst the fountain, which is certainly welcome on the warmer days. This summer is the first time the installation has 'appeared' since 2019 and it will be sure to be a popular hit once again for families looking to cool off!

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  • House of Vans Skate Skool

    South Bank is arguably the home of British skating, with the skate park at Southbank Centre's Undercroft the longest continually used skate park in the world! If you have some youngsters who are keen to get into the sport, then House of Vans, located inside Leake Street's arches and tunnels is the perfect place to start. Offering free one hour lessons every Saturday morning, Skate Skool provides access to House of Vans' bowl, mini ramp and street course and kids from 5+ are eligible to join in the fun.

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  • Take a Stroll on the Queens Walk

    Where else can you confidently let the kids off the leash in Central London without fear of busy roads and traffic? Lets face it, the capital can be a stressful place for parents, but in South Bank, you can walk along the entire stretch of the river from Lambeth Bridge to Blackfriars and beyond without having to cross a road. The Queens Walk is unique in London in offering a pedestrian friendly access and in South Bank you'll see a number of famous London landmarks, such as the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the London Eye, BT Tower, Somerset House and St Pauls Cathedral to name just a few. With buskers and street performers on hand to entertain as well as street food stalls, arguably the easiest way to spend a family day out in South Bank is just by taking a walk along the river and seeing where it take you.