20 MUSEUMS TO VISIT IN THE HOLIDAYS
Posted by Kalli Pasqualucci on 14 Aug 2019
I love museums and learning about new things – there is so much to learn from people in the past. Therefore, museums are some of my favourite places to visit. London and Surrey are steeped in history, beautiful art, music, literature and scientific discoveries. Here are some of the museums in Surrey and London, that I think are worth a visit this Summer.
Our closest museum is at Bourne Hall; and is a wealth of local history. There is information on Nonsuch Palace, architecture and historical buildings, clothing, toys and the history of Epsom Downs.
For children: There are monthly children’s clubs, held on Saturdays and during the school holidays. In the museum, there are also some interactive displays. There are also regular family-friendly events, held in Bourne Hall and in the gardens around it.
Entry fee: Free to look around, there is a charge for the children’s clubs.
To note: Parking at Bourne Hall is pay and display. There is also a cafe, library and gardens on the Bourne Hall site; and a museum shop – with books, curios and gifts.
Not really a museum, but steeped in history, Reigate Caves is a hidden gem under the town of Reigate. The caves are only open 5 days a year – the next date being the 10th of August.
For children: Children are invited to take part in discovering the caves, and there are events aimed at children throughout the year.
Entry fee: Adults tickets start from £2, children’s tickets from £1.50, and infants can enter free of charge. There is also a family ticket that starts at £6.
To note: The Baron’s Cave is not suitable for those with mobility difficulties – including babies in prams.
Being the mum of two boys, we have regularly visited Brooklands. We love their London Bus museum, Concorde museum and racing cars.
For children: There is a soft play for under 5’s, indoor and outdoor picnic areas, a cafe, trails for children, car rides and school holiday activities.
Entry fee: Under 5’s go free, children’s tickets are £8, adults tickets are £14.50, and family admission is £38. Some events and days have a surcharge fee.
To note: You can borrow an explorer activity bag from the Reception, in the clubhouse.
Situated on the South bank of London, Tate Modern has fantastic international and contemporary art on display. Tate Britain can be found in Milbank and houses British art from the 1500’s to the modern day.
Entry fee: Both Tate galleries are free to enter, with the option of paid exhibits.
To note: There are cafes, shops and child-friendly facilities – baby-changing, a cloakroom where buggies can be stored, etc.
It’s been a while since we visited Horniman, but it has all of the old world charm of an traditional museum. At Hornimans there is a museum, an aquarium, a butterfly house, activities and events.
For children: Horniman has many activities and events taking place during the holidays. Crazy golf, storytelling, crafts, music, exploring, pond-dipping and more.
Entry fee: The majority of Horniman is free to enter; charges apply for the aquarium, butterfly house and certain activities.
To note: There are also beautiful gardens, a cafe and gift shop. They also have a Farmer’s Market every Saturday.
The Imperial War Museums in London are made up of Churchill’s War Rooms, Imperial War Museum London, and the HMS Belfast. The museums explore war and how it has affected people’s lives.
For children: At IWM London there are a host of events taking place in the Summer holiday; including Story Seekers, Meet the Veterans (also available on HMS Belfast), Summer activities and more. HMS Belfast has Ship Shape Saturdays and D-day Family missions, to name a few.
Entry fee: IWM London is free, with certain paid-for activities. Churchill’s War Rooms are ticketed and you need to book an allocated time slot – tickets start from £11 for children and £22 for adults. Family tickets are from £40. The HMS Belfast is also ticketed and tickets start at £8.10 for children, £16.20 for adults and £27.90 for a family. You receive a 10% discount when booking online.
To note: There are also Imperial War Museums in Manchester and Duxford. Duxford has aviation and tank exhibits and flying experiences and events.
One of my favourite museums ever, and I still have not explored it all. The Natural History Museum is a delight – filled with dinosaurs, creatures, space exhibits, architecture, human evolution, oceans and more.
For children: See the moon up close and watch a live performance, LEGO building events, family-friendly nature activities, and a hands-on science area.
Entry fee: Free – but there may be a charge for some temporary exhibits.
To note: The two entrances with step-free access are Cromwell Road and Exhibition Road. The closest tube station to these entrances is South Kensington. There is also some parking on site for blue badge holders – but it needs to be booked in advance.
Gatwick Aviation Museum has planes from post war to Cold War. I know that this one would be a popular one with my boys – they love anything with an engine.
For children: There is a dress up area, nature trail and picnic area; as well as a Fun Day on Saturday, 14th September.
Entry fee: Under 5’s go free, children’s tickets are £2.50 and adult tickets are £7.50.
To note: There is a shop on site – offering hot drinks, snacks and ice cream.
Another local museum, focusing on artefacts and documents from the area. The ‘small but highly attractive’ East Surrey Museum is based in Caterham.
For children: There is a dedicated Junior Room – which allows children to get hands-on with history. There are also free holiday activities (donations welcome).
Entry fee: Free, but donations are welcomed.
To note: There is no parking on site, or near to the museum. The museum is 50m from the Caterham Station, and Surrey bus stops.
Notably the most popular of the museums, with my children; the Science Museum has many wonderful things to explore and interact with.
For children: Level -1 is a firm favourite with families. The garden allows children to explore using play. There is also a family room, buggy park, picnic area and cafe. There are also a variety of exciting exhibits, events and activities for all ages – have a look at the museum’s See and Do page, for more information.
Entry fee: Free entry. Some events, activities and exhibits carry a charge.
To note: The Science Museum has online games and apps too, for those curious minds.
I first fell in love with the Victoria and Albert story when visiting Kensington Palace. Since then, I have read and watched and learned a lot more about them. I absolutely adore this museum. The design of it, the central garden and the exhibits.
For children: Family games, hands-on discovery areas, trails, pop up performances, crafts and activities.
Entry fee: Admission is free. Some exhibits and events have a fee.
To note: You can find an interactive map of the V&A, on their website. 5-12 year olds can also borrow a backpack, from the Sackler Centre for arts education, in order to explore the museum more.
Focusing on the history of Richmond, the Tudor Palace, and the Parish church’s 800th year anniversary.
For children: Arts and crafts workshops and a handling collection of real and replica items from history.
Entry fee: Free, except for workshops (booking is essential).
To note: The museum doesn’t have air conditioning, so it might get warm in the Summer. The museum also has some adult workshops.
Situated on Great Russell Street in London, the British Museum has exhibits and events for all ages.
For children: Trails, gallery backpacks with free activities, art materials, family fun and events. To book any family-friendly activities, have a look at this page – most of the activities are free.
Entry fee: Free admission, with some ticketed events.
Although I have been to Trafalgar Square countless times, I have unfortunately never visited the National Gallery. Which is strange, because I love art and galleries. The National Gallery is open daily (except on the 1st of January and 24th – 26th December).
For children: There are some free family activities. On weekends and during holidays, families are welcome to use the cloakroom in the Pigott Education Centre. There are also audio guides and free tours available.
Entry fee: Free.
To note: According to their website, the best time to visit the gallery is at opening time, when the gallery is at its quietest.
Just up the road, in Carshalton, you can find Honeywood – a beautiful building, brimming with activities and history, situated next to the Carshalton ponds.
For children: There are assorted activities and events taking place at Honeywood in the Summer holidays. Dinosaur Summer is on from Wednesdays to Sundays, until the 1st of September. Their sandpits are open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 2.30pm to 4.30pm. There is also a family-friendly environmental fair on the 26th of August.
Entry fee: Entry is free, donations are welcomed.
To note: There is a tea room and museum shop.
Another local museum, Whitehall in Cheam has stories of Cheam Village and its connections to Nonsuch Palace.
For children: Free summer holiday farm activities – dressing up, crafts, trails and more. Story time (free but booking is essential), brass rubbing, dressing like a Tudor and a family-friendly Whitehall celebration day on the 24th of August.
Entry fee: Free admission.
To note: The museum is open on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. There is a pay and display car park behind the library, opposite Whitehall.
Discover the history of London and London’s docklands at these interactive and child-friendly museums. The Museum of London is based in Barbican, and the Dockland Museum can be found in Canary Wharf.
For children: There are so many family-friendly activities and events at these two museums; as well as games, trails, activity sheets and activity bags. The museums also have lockers, cafes and restaurants, picnic areas (on weekends and school holidays), baby changing, family accessibility and there is also an interactive gallery at the London Docklands.
Entry fee: Free entry, however some events and exhibits have a charge.
To note: The museums have a fun online portal to learn at home.
The Lightbox, in Woking, is ‘more than a gallery’. They have exhibitions, events, summer family fun, workshops, talks, tours and Lightbox Lates (on the last Thursday of the month).
For children: They have a complete page dedicated to fun this summer holiday; including clay workshops, crafts, marbling, bubble fun, tie dyeing and watercolour painting.
Entry fee: General admission to The Lightbox is free. £7.50 annual pass or £5 day rate allows you entry into the main and upper galleries. Under 18’s go free.
To note: The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday. Lightbox Lates is free entry, from 5.00pm – 8.30pm.
The Royal Museums of Greenwich are made up of the National Maritime Museum, Cutty Sark, Queen’s House, and the Royal Observatory.
For children: There are family-friendly interactive exhibits, family-friendly cafes. For more information about visiting with a family, have a look at the Royal Museums of Greenwich website.
Entry fee: The National Maritime and Queen’s House museums have free entry. Prices apply for special exhibitions and tours. Day explorer rates for Cutty Sark, Royal Observatory and the museums are £11.85 for children and £23.65 for adults, when purchased online.
To note: The path to the Royal Observatory and Planetarium is very steep, but worth the walk. You are able to touch objects in all Royal Museums of Greenwich sites, except the Queen’s House.
Based in Bethnal Green, the museum focuses on the wonders of childhood. Clothing, toys, art, culture and furniture of yesteryear’s children.
For children: Open studio, summer art camps, summer activities, term-time daily activities and more. There is fun for every age. There is also a picnic area and a cafe.
Entry fee: Free entry.
To note: The museum is open daily (except from the 24th to 26th of December). The museum tends to be quieter after 2.00pm.
So much to learn about; and most of the museums have free entry too, so it’s often just a train ticket into London. Writing this blog post has made me want to do a few more museum trips.
Hope that you find something for your family.