South Bank London

15 ideas for a South Bank family day out

London's favourite riverside destination is packed with iconic attractions that will appeal to all ages! To help you plan the perfect South Bank day out, here's ten brilliant sightseeing experiences for families to plan your visit around.

1. The Paddington Bear Experience

Join Paddington Bear and the Brown family for a very special day out! 

Step into Paddington’s world at this official immersive theatrical experience at County Hall. The journey begins with the hustle and bustle of Paddington Station from where you'll be whisked away on a marmalade-themed adventure. The experience promises numerous themed rooms to explore, interactive games, abundant character interactions, and lots of surprises along the way, ending with a Windsor Gardens Street party and Paddington’s famous marmalade sandwiches!

2. The Queen's Walk

Take a riverside stroll along the QUEEN’S WALK 

Where else in Central London can you confidently let the kids run around without fear of busy roads? The wide pedestrianised Queen’s Walk stretches from Lambeth Bridge to Blackfriars and beyond, serving up brilliant views all along the way. Stop for a selfie with Big Ben by Westminster Bridge, let the kids enjoy a ride on the old-fashioned merry-go-round, and when the tides are out step down onto Ernie's Beach for a spot of mudlarking.

Queen's Walk, South Bank

3. SEA LIFE London Aquarium

Marvel at the marine life at SEA LIFE LONDON AQUARIUM

Dive in and see sharks, penguins, clownfish, piranhas, stingrays, jellyfish, turtles and so much more at one of the UK’s top aquariums. There are 14 different themed zones to discover, from the Coral Kingdom to the Rainforest Adventure, the shark tanks and the Gentoo penguin colony. Over 5,000 different creatures call the aquarium home and visitors can learn more about them in regular talks and demonstrations that take place at the aquarium throughout the day.


See the city from above on the LASTMINUTE.COM LONDON EYE

Take in the most spectacular views of the city from the top of this iconic landmark and combine a visit with an hour-long guided boat tour from the London Eye pier. This is one of the most popular attractions in the UK and an incredible 3.5 million visitors are estimated to ride the wheel every year. Family tickets can be bought online in advance and combination tickets that include other attractions and experiences such as the SEA LIFE Aquarium present great value.


Run around in the JUBILEE GARDENS adventure playground

If the kids need to let off some steam you can find one of central London’s best adventure playgrounds inside the pretty Jubilee Gardens directly behind the London Eye. There's plenty for kids to clamber under and over, and sensory sound, vision and touch experiences that are designed to delight children of differing abilities. There's also plenty of space to sit and enjoy a packed lunch on the grass.

Jubilee Gardens adventure playground


Embark on a fairtytale quest at SHREK’S ADVENTURE! LONDON

Ride the 4D flying bus, make your way through the Mirror Maze of Insanity and cook up a magic spell at this interactive and immersive experience for kids, featuring 10 fairytale-themed live shows and rides, based on the characters from the popular Shrek films. The experience is designed to lead children on a colourful fairytale journey where they are the central character, and of course every visit ends with a chance to meet Shrek himself.


Gruesome storytelling and thrilling underground rides at THE LONDON DUNGEON

See, hear, feel and smell the chillingly amusing characters of ye olde London as they come to life through 19 interactive shows and two underground rides at this wildly entertaining walk-through experience. This one's a fun day out for teenagers with a stomach for gruesome tales and stomach-churning rides, all themed around the darker moments of London's colourful history.



Considered the birthplace of British skateboarding, teens will enjoy hanging out and watching the local skaters pulling stunts at this famous skateboarding hotspot located underneath the Southbank Centre's Queen Elizabeth Hall. Brave (and suitably experienced) teens are also welcome to get on the ramps themselves. They should just be aware that this is a high visibility spot to have a wipeout!


Climb to the top of a medieval tower at THE GARDEN MUSEUM

Climb the 131 steps to the top of the Garden Museum's medieval tower and enjoy the view - tickets to the tower cost just £4 and under 18’s visit for free! If you are green-fingered family then make sure to buy tickets to visit the 1full museum and explore the exhibitions that detail the history of British gardens and horticulture. Families can pick up activity sheets at the entrance for the kids to guide themselves around the museum and during the holidays there are regular crafting and creative play activities that are targeted especially at kids.

Viewa from the top of the medieval tower at The Gardenb Museum


Check out the street art in the LEAKE STREET graffiti tunnel

Perfect for teens with a passion for selfies, London’s most famous graffiti tunnel is TikTok heaven with graffiti writers out in force creating new murals every day. There's also the opportunity to book to join a graffiti workshop with a professional street artist and leave your own mark on the walls! After admiring the street art, take some time out for food and refreshments and play some games at the brilliant board games bar Draughts (children must be accompanied by an adult, under 18s are allowed until 9pm).


Take a backstage tour of the NATIONAL THEATRE

Go behind the scenes with a 75-minute guided tour of the National Theatre’s backstage areas. Learn about what it takes to put together a world-class show on a visit to the theatre's on-site carpentry, props and scenic painting workshops, and discover how the theatre's unique design and state-of-the-art stages make it a world leader.


Big screen experiences at BFI IMAX

The BFI IMAX is Britain’s biggest cinema screen and one of the biggest IMAX cinemas in Europe. 12-channel sound technology, a 4K IMAX laser projection system and the 512.8m² screen all come together to make this the most immersive cinema experience around.

The cinema screens all the latest blockbusters, as well as a series of dazzling IMAX documentary short films (some of them also in 3D). The IMAX Docs are themed on topics that include Antarctica, African wildlife and the earth as seen space.

Inside the auditorium at BFI IMAX from the top row of seats looking down to the big screen


Colourful family shows and events at SOUTHBANK CENTRE

The UK’s largest arts centre has a packed programme of events, hosting hundreds of different shows, events, festivals, installations and performances every year. Every February there’s the Imagine Children’s Festival, the biggest festival of its kind in the UK, with more than 100 family events happening over 10 days.

Year-round a host of other family events take place at Southbank Centre (many of them free of charge), ranging from classical concerts to interactive parties, Friday rhyme time storytelling and a festive extravaganza in December that includes a major Christmas show for kids (previous hits have included the stage shows of Hey Duggie and Bluey). Check out all the upcoming Family events at Southbank Centre here.


Cool down in the summer at Southbank Centre's interactive fountains

Every summer as part of their annual summer festival, the Southbank Centre presents one of their most popular installations; Jeppe Hein’s Appearing Rooms. The dancing fountain installation sees different sections of the fountain switched on at unpredictable intervals, creating watery ‘rooms’ that kids (and adults) love to explore (especially on a hot day). Your kids will inevitably get completely drenched so make sure to bring dry clothes and towel. The Appearing Rooms appear during the summer months (typically from June until September).


Buckle in for a thrilling speedboat tour of the river with THAMES ROCKETS

Setting out from the London Eye Pier, Thames Rockets is the fastest tour on the river! Hop on board and buckle in for an exhilarating speed boat excursion along the Thames, reaching speeds of up to 35mph as you zoom down the river. There are different tour options, all are guided and you’ll get to pass all the biggest sites such as Big Ben, St Paul’s and Tower Bridge along the way before ending back at the London Eye. Suitable for all ages, we’d recommend this experience for confident tweens and up.

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