London with kids: London Transport Museum
Father-Hood’s guide to the best things to do with your kids in London continues with our review of the London Transport Museum.
Where is it?
The London Transport Museum can be found in the corner of Covent Garden Piazza, making it the most central of London’s kid-pleasing museums. Positively, this means that it’s really easy to get here by bus (RV1, 9, 11, 13, 15, 23, 139) or tube (Covent Garden is the nearest station, although it’s also walkable from Leicester Square, Charing Cross, Holborn and Embankment). Negatively, it means that driving here is a bit of a nightmare.
How much does it cost?
I’ll start with the good news. Anyone under the age of 18 is free. Wow, that’s excellent. It is, but before you pop the Champers and let off the fireworks, it is my duty to inform you that over 60s and students have to pay £15 on the door (or £13.50 if you book online in advance), while adults are charged £17.50 (or £16 if you book online in advance). The crumb of comfort? This ticket gives you unlimited entry to the museum and its galleries for 12 months.
What are the best things about it?
The clue is in the title. The London Transport Museum is all about London transport through the ages. This means horse-drawn carriages, a variety of single and double-decker buses, the odd taxi and some modern and old-school tube trains. Add in two kiddy play zones, and my toddler is in stair-climbing, train-sitting, bus-driving, tube-fixing, button-pushing, announcement-shouting heaven each time we visit.
And the worst?
A lot of people moan about the entry price for adults, pointing out a) that the museum occupies toddlers for 1-2 hours at the most and b) that the likes of the Science Museum, British Museum and Natural History Museum at South Kensington are free. I get this, but I also appreciate that the moment you buy the ticket is the moment you guarantee yourself access to a kid-pleasing venue in central London for the next 12 months.
Conclusion? Think about how many times you are realistically going to visit central London in a year. If the answer is once or twice, save your money and head to a different attraction. If it’s three or more, splash the cash and accelerate inside.
Is the food any good?
The cafe by the ground floor play zone serves a perfectly acceptable selection of sandwiches, pasta posts, drinks and snacks. Looking for something a little more substantial? Head outside. There are loads of family-friendly restaurants in and around Covent Garden.
What are the toilets/baby change like?
I haven’t been in the ladies, but the gents are among the best I’ve seen (now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write). The long, flowing sink dips in certain areas to allow toddlers easy access to the water and soap, and there are also some urinals that are closer to the ground for kids. The baby change is good too.
Any special insider tips?
- If you ignore the arrows and head left as soon as you get in, you bypass the more historical upper floors (which I like, but my son finds a bit boring) and get straight into the ground floor where most of the toddler-thrilling action is.
- The windscreen on the bus that kids can ‘drive’ on the ground floor has less lights shining on it than the windscreen on the bus that kids can ‘drive’ on the mezzanine floor. Why does this matter? It matters because the less shiny one is better for pictures.
- Determined to drive here? If you visit on a Sunday morning, you can usually find a single yellow line space on Wellington Street, Drury Lane or Tavistock Street. From there, you’ve less than five minutes to walk.
The bottom line
Pricey for tourists, but a great option for London regulars.