Family-friendly museums: Top spots for visiting with kids
From enchanted libraries to adorable farm animals, museums have so much to offer for curious young minds. Here's our pick of great museums to visit with children, where the whole family can learn, play and have fun together.
From discovering intriguing works of art and exploring cultures around the world, to having unique experiences together, there are so many reasons to visit museums as a family. Play, learn and explore outside of the classroom, experience new people, places and things, and open up a world of imagination at museums around the UK.
Many of the places on this list offer unique spaces specially designed with young people in mind, including interactive and immersive exhibits, soft play areas and family activities. And some have even been awarded prestigious titles for their family-friendly facilities, chosen by families themselves – Kids in Museums crowned the Postal Museum the Best Accessible Museum and the Horniman Museum and Gardens the Best Large Museum in 2021.
Don't know where to begin? We've got plenty of family-friendly museum recommendations to get you started.
We're partnering with the national charity Kids in Museums to bring you recommendations on visiting museums with children. Head to their website to explore an abundunce of resources for planning museum trips for young people and families, plus discover the places that have won awards for their family-friendly facilities.
Did you know? For £10 you can add Plus Kids onto your National Art Pass membership to include member benefits for the children in your family under the age of 16.
This magical museum in Oxford is made up of 10 immersive spaces that bring stories to life, including an Enchanted Library, a Whispering Wood and a Learning Studio inspired by Hogwarts. Climb through the wardrobe into Narnia or take under-5s into the Small Worlds space inspired by picture books, nursery rhymes and traditional tales. There’s a secret waiting to be told around every corner, and spaces to spark the imagination for all ages.
Environment, ecology and human cultures exist side-by-side in this unique museum. Tucked away in London’s Forest Hill, the Horniman is home to idyllic gardens, thousands of unique objects and even an aquarium. From the Butterfly House and Animal Walk to galleries exploring world cultures, music and natural history, there’s so much here for the whole family to enjoy together.
Woodland, gardens, an adventure playground and adorable animals are all on offer here. Meet the majestic Suffolk Punch horses or spot the wild creatures that call Gressenhall home through nature cameras. There are old village shops and recreated gardens where you can explore the history of the area, plus regular family activities to get everyone involved.
Ride the Mail Rail, explore fascinating exhibitions or take under-8s to the Postal Play Space – interactive spaces will help you learn about the fascinating history of the postal service together. Learn about the sending of secret messages in pneumatic tubes, marvel at the world’s first adhesive postage stamp, and even catch some cryptic Victorian Valentine's cards at this unique museum dedicated to how we communicate by post.
Home to a vast collection of children’s literature and illustration including work by Jacqueline Wilson, Philip Pullman and Quentin Blake, Seven Stories is another great space dedicated to the art of storytelling for children. Regular events are designed to inspire young bookworms and feature iconic characters from literature such as Judith Kerr’s loveable cat Mog. There’s plenty on offer to inspire adults as well, including a beautiful set of watercolour illustrations by Edward Ardizzone for Graham Greene’s The Little Train, acquired by the museum with Art Fund support in 2011.
The colourful space at Firstsite is designed to be welcoming, inclusive and easy to navigate. Striking permanent installations celebrate and explore culture in Essex, while intriguing exhibitions showcase contemporary artists and bring artists and families together. The gallery's Family Fun programme is designed to help families make and play together, explore creativity, have fun and try something new. Other activities on offer include Parent & Toddler Art Club and street dance classes for 8-14-year-olds.
Explore fascinating creatures, get up close to nature and learn about the science that underpins our natural world – there’s so much to explore in the Natural History Museum’s permanent collections, which span human evolution, dinosaurs, oceans, space and plenty more. Plus, there are several specifically designated family-friendly galleries to explore, on volcanoes and earthquakes, birds and minerals.
This open-air museum explores the story of people who emigrated from Ulster to North America in the 18th and 19th centuries. With costumed guides on hand to help you find your way around, you can journey back in time to explore traditional crafts, a recreated town and authentic period buildings. Plus, everyone can get hands-on with demonstrations on blacksmithing, tweed weaving and more.
The more you see, the more we do.
The National Art Pass lets you enjoy free entry to hundreds of museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, while raising money to support them.