By necessity, we do a lot of kid-focused activities in London. The best is when we can find something all ages can enjoy, from toddlers to adults. Two of those places are the Sea Life London Aquarium and the London Transport Museum. We ended up purchasing memberships at both places because we deemed that a better value, and now we can go back anytime over the year.
A museum on transportation doesn’t sound thrilling for children, but this one is. It’s got lots of play areas, kids can drive buses and taxis, pretend to fix them with tools, and more. There’s a cafe with kid fare, a big family restroom, a mother’s nursing room, and a really great gift shop. We have been to the transport museum at least four times already. It’s right at Covent Garden, which is also a fun place to walk around before or after the museum. There are craft stalls set up, lots of food options, and plenty of street performers. If you are visiting London with kids, the Transport Museum is a great attraction.
The aquarium I had low expectations for. As the former digital communications manager of the National Aquarium in Baltimore, I have industry knowledge and my standards are high. The London aquarium is right in the heart of one of the most cheesy tourist trap areas of London. The London Eye (which everyone really should do once on a clear day—we all enjoyed it, especially E; make sure you pay for the fast track pass to jump the queue, it’s totally worth the few extra quid) is right there, along with several other attractions that hold zero interest for me: Madame Tussaud’s, the London Dungeon, and Shrek’s Adventure. So the area is teeming with tourists, and I will avoid the aquarium like the plague during the summer. That’s the major drawback. Even as a member with free admission I have to book our entry time in advance.
The other drawback to this aquarium is that it’s underground and dark and the passage through it is pretty narrow, so it can get crowded, and some areas in particular have a bottleneck issue. If you’re claustrophobic, this is not a place you want to visit. There are also not many places to stop and sit throughout the route. However, it was much bigger than I expected and had a lot more tanks and animals than I thought it would. You can take your stroller through; though, again, it can get crowded in there; and fish tanks are mesmerizing for babies.
To sum up, if you are just visiting London, especially in the summer, skip the aquarium. If you are here for a longer time, not during peak tourist season or on holidays, it’s not a bad way to spend a rainy day. Our membership purchase also gave us one-time passes to our choice of three different amusement parks in England, so we may be checking out Legoland sometime this spring!