Our Favourite Day Trips From London For Families In 2024

If you’re looking for a little escape from London but don’t want to travel too far, we have some great suggestions for day trips from London for families.

We loved living in London and always found fun things to do with the kids in London but sometimes we just needed to escape, especially in the summer.

If the school holidays are approaching and you’re looking for some inspiration for day trips from London with kids, here are 30 exciting family day trips from London that we have personally tried, tested and loved.

Most of them are easily reached from London by train (we’ve given all the train details you need) – but a few will require a car.

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Two kids on a train station platform with a train approaching.

Top tips for family day trips from London

Before we tell you all about our favourite family day trips from London, here are a few tips that may come in handy.

Make sure you have a good day bag that will carry what you need. We have this Under Armour backpack to carry the essentials. It is so well made and comes in loads of colours.
We also take reusable water bottles, preferably insulated to keep drinks cold on a warm day.
Things we keep in our day bag (the bare minimum): suncream, hats, wet wipes, small travel game for the train/car, small snacks.

If you are going to be doing family days out from London by train, look into family railcards. You can save up to 30% on your fares. Make sure to book in advance for the best fares.

You can buy your family railcard here.

Day trips for families from London to theme parks

Whilst a theme park may not be everyone’s cup of tea, our kids love them! And these days there are more to theme parks than just rides.

There are some really good theme parks within easy reach of London. These are the ones that we recommend for days out from London with kids.

Legoland Windsor

Legoland Windsor is a fun day out for families with young children. As you would expect, the theme park is completely Lego themed.

There’s a LEGO Ninjago ride, a DUPLO coaster and much more. Our kids loved getting their LEGO City driving licence and also loved Miniland which shows off model scenes from around the world. There’s even a working Eurostar.

There are some rides for older kids but I would say that our kids outgrew Legoland by about 10 years old.

You might find this post on visiting Legoland Windsor with younger kids helpful.

London to Legoland Windsor by train

The easiest way to get to Legoland by train is to travel to Windsor & Eton Central and then take the free Legoland shuttle bus from outside of the station. You can also travel from London Waterloo.

Route: From London Paddington to Windsor & Eton Central on Great Western or from London Waterloo to Windsor & Eton Riverside on Southwestern Railway.
Journey time: Around 22 minutes from Paddington or just under 1 hour from Waterloo.

Tickets: Book tickets to Legoland Windsor direct on their website here.

Kids waving at Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs lego figures at Legoland Windsor.

Chessington World of Adventures Resort

Chessington World of Adventures is probably the next level up when it comes to rides for older kids.

Ther are still lots of rides for younger children but there are quite a few more rides for older children than at Legoland.

If rides aren’t your thing, there is also a zoo at Chessington and a sea life centre.

If one day is not enough for you, they offer short breaks with one night’s accommodation and 2 days park entry.

Chessington is a great place to visit at Christmas as it has a lovely Santa Sleepover experience.

We wrote a review of Chessington World of Adventures which you might find helpful.

London to Chessington World of Adventures by train

Route: From London Waterloo to Chessington South on Southwestern Railway. From the station it is a ten minute walk to the theme park.
Journey time: Around 36 minutes from Waterloo.

Tickets: Book tickets to Chessington World of Adventures direct on their website here.

Two boys sitting in front of a jeep with the Chessington World of Adventures logo on it.

Thorpe Park

Thorpe Park is probably the best theme park near London for thrill seekers. It has some of the fastest and tallest rollercoaster rides in the country and is billed as the UK’s most thrilling theme park.

If you were in any doubt, the names of the rides give the game away – Colossus, Nemesis Inferno, SAW – The Ride. And no doubt their new ride ‘Hyperia’ will be a big hit when it opens in May 2024.

Thorpe Park does also have some rides for younger kids so it can still be a great day out for the family from London.

There are lots of water rides at Thorpe Park so you might want to bring a change of clothes or a packable towel or two!

London to Thorpe Park by train

Route: From London Waterloo to Staines on Southwestern Railway. From the station there is a shuttle bus that runs every 15 – 20 minutes.
Journey time: Around 30 minutes from Waterloo.

Tickets: Book tickets to Thorpe Park direct on their website here.

Warner Brothers Studio Tour

I know you are probably reading this thinking that the WB Studios is not a theme park. We weren’t too sure before we visited what exactly it would be like.

Whatever category it fits into, it is a must for Harry Potter fans. You might also want to take a look at other UK Harry Potter days out as some are not far from London.

One word of advice – you must book your WB Studio Tour tickets in advance! People come from all over the world to visit this unique attraction and it is busy throughout the year.

During the tour you will visit Harry Potter film sets, see props that were used in the movies and learn about special effects used in the movies. There are also interactive activities along the way.

You should plan for around 3 – 4 hours to complete the self-guided tour, although you could spend all day there if you really take your time.

The Harry Potter Studios are easy to reach from London by train but if you prefer to have someone pick you up in London, you can book a tour. This tour picks you up from Victoria Coach Station in central London.

You can also book a small group guided tour if you would a more personal experience.

If you are in London at Christmas with kids and want to visit the Harry Potter Studios, you will get to experience Hogwarts in the Snow. The whole studio gets a dusting of snow. It’s so pretty.

London to Harry Potter World by train

Route: From London Euston to Watford Junction on West Midlands Trains. You can take a free shuttle bus from the train station to the Studios.
Journey time: Around 20 minutes.

Father and two sons standing outside the Warner Bros Studio Tour.

Day trips from London for families to the beach

Despite people believing that London is dull and grey most of the time, the summer can get surprisingly hot.

There are some great places in London to take the kids to cool off (splash parks) but they can’t get very busy.

Nothing really beats a trip to the coast on a sunny day and thankfully there are some lovely beaches near London.

These are our favourite beach days out from London with kids.


For as long as I can remember, Brighton has been the most popular beach to visit from London. It has such a fun vibe in the summer.

There is a very easy train service straight down to Brighton from either London Victoria or Kings Cross St Pancras.

Brighton itself is fairly compact so once you are there you can get around on foot.

You might want to stroll along the seafront and out along the famous pier or dip in and out of the shops and restaurants on the Lanes.

These are some best things to do in Brighton with kids:

Or just enjoy the beach!

London to Brighton by train

Route: From London Victoria on Southern and from London King’s Cross on Thameslink.
Journey time: Fastest time: 58 minutes / Average time 1 hour 20 minutes.

Southend on Sea

Southend on Sea is a very traditional British seaside town with fish & chips and amusement arcades along the sea front.

Other than the beach itself, the biggest attractions in Southend are Adventure Island and the pier (which is actually the longest pier in the world).

Adventure Island is free to enter and you pay for the rides. It is fairly small as theme parks go but there is plenty there to keep all ages occupied. As well as the rides, there is a huge indoor soft play centre, mini golf and an aquarium.

Take a walk along the longest pier in the world (1.3 miles) and then take the narrow gauge train back if you don’t fancy the return walk.

If you want to get away from the busy Southend beach, take a short walk to Chalkwell Beach.

London to Southend on Sea by train

Route: From London Fenchurch to Southend on Sea on the C2C line.
Journey time: Just under 1 hour.

Family enjoying ice creams on Southend-on-Sea's seafront.


Margate has had a revamp and is a great destination to visit from London.

Dreamland is one of the oldest surviving amusement parks in the UK with lots of vintage fairground rides.

Pop into the Old Kent Market for some freshly baked goodies from Gina’s Bakery. Her hot cross buns were amazing. All of the narrow lanes around this area have lovely colourful shop fronts and there are cafés, bookshops and galleries galore.

Visit the Turner Contemporary on the seafront to see what’s on. If you have caught the tide time right, you’ll get a glimpse of  Antony Gormley’s ‘Another Time‘ statue, one of one hundred dotted around the UK coast.

There is also the Shell Grotto which we haven’t personally visited but it has won a Tripadvisor people’s choice award so might be worth a visit.

If you have time, you can also walk along the coastal walk to some (frankly) better beaches – Botany Bay and Broadstairs.

London to Margate by train

Route: From London St Pancras to Margate on Southeastern.
Journey time: Average time 1 hour 30 minutes.

Boy enjoying a hot cross bun from Gina's Bakery in Margate.

Camber Sands (& Rye)

Camber Sands is aptly named with one of the largest stretches of sand I’ve ever seen on a UK beach.

With so much sand, it is possible to get away from the crowds, even in the middle of summer.

It is also located right next door to Rye which is one of the most beautiful small towns in England. Well worth exploring with its castle and medieval streets.

To get to Camber Sands, you take the train to Rye and can either walk 3 miles along a lovely cycle path or take a taxi.

London to Camber Sands by train

Route: From London St Pancras to Rye on Southern Railway.
Journey time: Around 1 hour 9 minutes (with 1 change in Ashford International).

Kids exploring the sand dunes at Camber Sands in Kent.

Family days out from London to visit castles

Depending on how old your kids are, they may be studying castles as part of their curriculum in which case a visit to a real castle should be on your list of family day trips from London.

Regardless of age though, most kids love a castle in my experience.

These are our favourite castles near London that are perfect for a day trip from London with kids.

Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle has been called the loveliest castle in the world and we would tend to agree.

It is such a fun day out from London for families as there is so much going on there – especially over the school holidays.

The castle themed playgrounds are so much fun (so much so that we struggled to get the kids out of them!). They will also love the castle train, the ferry, the adventure golf, maze and falconry displays.

We opted for a self-guided tour of the castle and enjoyed trying to find mini Henry VIII figures hidden in some of the rooms.

You can buy your Leeds Castle entrance tickets here. The great thing about the Leeds Castle ticket is that it is valid for 12 months so you can visit as many times as you like during that time.

London to Leeds Castle by train

Route: From London Victoria to Bearsted on Southeastern. A shuttle bus runs from the station from April to September and takes 5 minutes.
Journey time: Around 1 hour.

Mother and sons standing in front of Leeds Castle in Kent - a great day trip from London for families.

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle, is one of the oldest occupied castles in England. It was founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century making it over 900 years old.

There is a free family audio tour which is aimed at children aged 7 – 11 and which teaches of the castles history and its treasures.

There is an onsite café and during the school holidays there are special events taking place with children in mind.

From the castle you can walk along the Royal Mile which stretches 3 miles through Windsor Great Park. If you are luck, you might see deer here.

London to Windsor Castle by train

Route: From London Paddington to Windsor & Eton Central on Great Western or from London Waterloo to Windsor & Eton Riverside on Southwestern Railway.
Journey time: Fastest journey time is around 20 minutes from Paddington or 1 hour from Waterloo.

Tickets: You can buy your Windsor Castle entry ticket here.

Warwick Castle

It may seem like Warwick is a bit far for a day trip from London but you can reach Warwick Castle within 90 minutes by train, making it perfect for days out from London for families.

It is one of the most popular attractions in the country and the focus really is on family fun. It’s not so much about the castle itself but more about what’s going on at the castle.

There are live falconry shows, jousting and archery sessions. There’s a Horrible Histories maze, Zog Playland and a Dragon Slayer show.

They also run special events through the year, such as Santa Sleepovers at Christmas (and have a large ice skating rink)

If you wanted to spend more time there, you can spend the night there in knight’s glamping tents at Warwick Castle Knight’s Village.

London to Warwick Castle by train

Route: From London Marylebone to Warwick on Chiltern Railways.
Journey time: Fastest journey time is around 90 minutes. The castle is araound a 10 minute walk from the station.

Tickets: You can buy your Warwick Castle tickets on their website here.

Cities you can visit on a day trip from London with kids

You might not have thought about a city sightseeing trip with kids but there are lots of family-friendly cities within easy reach of London.

To help with the sightseeing, we recommend finding out whether the city has a Hop-on/hop-off bus tour or a Treasure Map Trail that you can do.

You can find all of the UK Treasure Map Trails here. They are a fun and inexpensive way to explore a town or city.

St Albans

St Albans is so easy to get to from London. In fact it is the closest city to London.

It is a great place to bring kids who are learning about the Romans at school.

Remains of the ancient city walls can be seen in Verulamium Park next to the cathedral and you can learn more about everyday life in Roman Britain at the Verulamium Museum.

There are lots of family-friendly restaurants in St Albans and on Wednesdays and Saturdays there is a thriving market.

Other things to do in St Albans with kids:

London to St Albans by train

Route: From London St Pancras to St Albans City on Thameslink.
Journey time: Around 20 minutes.

Boy standing in front of a sign for Verulamium Park in St Albans.


You will most likely know that Cambridge is home to one of the world’s most famous universities.

You may not know that there are also a number of great museums in Cambridge for families.

Our favourites include the Sedgewick Museum of Earth Sciences where you will find dinosaur skeletons and lots of family activities. It’s one of the best places to see dinosaurs in the UK outside of London. There is also the Fitzwilliam Museum.

Kids will also enjoy the Cambridge Science Centre where there are lots of interactive activites for budding scientists to get involved with.

Kids may not enjoy a walking tour of Cambridge University (like this one) but they will definitely enjoy a punting tour (like this one).

You might want to give it a go yourself but we saw at least 2 novice punters fall in. Plus the guided tours are informative and quite amusing.

Other things to do in Cambridge with kids:

London to Cambridge by train

Route: From London Kings Cross (Great Northern), London St Pancras (Thameslink) and London Liverpool Street (Greater Anglia) to Cambridge.
Journey time: fastest service is from Kings Cross in around 50 minutes.

LAdy in sunglasses and boy in a cap on a punting trip in Cambridge on a sunny day.


Oxford is a lovely day trip from London for families. It is really easy to get to on the train and perfect in the summer months when you can have a go at punting.

Oxford University is the oldest university in the English-speaking world, and should be on your list of places to visit in Oxford with kids. Take some time to enjoy the Oxford University parks.

You can actually take a walking tour with an Oxford University Alumni which should be quite insightful.

If you have any Harry Potter fans – they will love taking a Harry Potter tour. Choose from either the Harry Potter Tour with Divinity School entry or Christ Church Harry Potter filming locations.

Other things to do in Oxford with kids:

London to Oxford by train

Route: From London Paddington to Oxford on Great Western Railway and from London Marylebone on Chiltern Railways.
Journey time: 50 minutes from Paddington and 1 hour 15 minutes from Marylebone.


Built in the 1700s and 1800s, there are over 35 miles of canals in Birmingham so you can understand why it is called the Venice of the North.

They were once a busy transport route but all commercial traffic ceased by 1980. They fell into disrepair but some areas have been regenerated and are well worth a visit.

Kids may not find the history fascinating but older kids may enjoy a walking tour (see details here).

Some of the best things to do with kids in Birmingham are:

Birmingham is a great city to visit at Christmas because it has the biggest German Christmas market outside of Germany.

London to Birmingham by train

Route: From London Euston to Birmingham on Chiltern Railways.
Journey time: Fastest time: Just under 1 hour 30 minutes.


If you’d like to learn more about Shakespeare, perhaps the greatest English writer of all time, then you must visit Stratford-upon-Avon.

We have been here many times and have always had a great day out with the kids. Some of our favourite places to visit in Stratford are:

If you are visiting for longer than a day trip from London, you should look into the Shakespeare Explorer Pass which includes 10 attractions in the area.

You can buy your 1,2 or 3 day Shakepeare’s England Explorer Pass here.

London to Stratford-upon-Avon by train

Route: From London Marylebone to Stratford-upon-Avon on Chiltern Railways.
Journey time: Fastest time: Just under 2 hours.

Father and sons standing in front of Shakespeare's Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon.


You probably weren’t expecting to see Paris on this list but you can easily do a day trip to Paris from London.

If you take the first Eurostar out from London St Pancras at around 6am, you can be in Paris shortly after 9am.

We have taken the first Eurostar out, arriving into Paris early enough to have a lovely breakfast. After breakfast, we took a stroll around Notre Dame and hopped on a sightseeing boat to the Eiffel Tower because you can’t come to Paris and not see the Eiffel Tower!

Make sure you book your tickets in advance. If you miss out, then take a look at these tickets as there should be more availablity with them.

After that, we had lunch then hopped on the Metro to the Sacre Coeur for some of the best views of Paris.

From the Sacre Coeur, it is a quick hop back to Paris Gare du Nord to catch the train home.

You can do the same with Brussels too.

London to Paris by train

Route: From London St Pancras International to Paris Gare du Nord.
Journey time: Fastest time: Just under 2 hours.

Two little boys sitting across the river from Notre Dame in Paris during one of the most exciting day trips from London for families we've ever done.

Other ideas for day trips from London for families

Historic Houses and Museums

Here are just a few historic houses and museums within easy reach of London that are great for families.

Selection of large skeletons at the Natural History Museum in Tring.

Animal Parks within easy reach of London

  • Woburn Safari Park – you will need a car for this safari adventure. Watch those cheeky mokeys trying to steal your windscreen wipers!
  • Hertfordshire Zoo – home to big cats and a fabulous dinosaur park.
  • Whipsnade Zoo – this is the sister zoo to London Zoo and is home to elephants, rhino, giraffe and more. It is spread over a very large area and you can easily spend a day here. It is best visited by car as you can take the car in and drive around and even do a mini safari drive. We also like to take the kids’ scooters. Check their website for elephant walk times as well as the keeper talks which are very interesting.

Elephants being taken for a walk at Whipsnade Zoo.

Family days out from London to parks

If you just want to get out into the countryside for a walk and maybe a pub lunch, there are lots of lovely parks within easy reach of London – although most are best reached by car.

  • Aldenham Country Park in Hertfordshire with adventure playground, farm park and family camping.
  • Cassiobury Park in Watford for lots of ameneties including a great splash park and sports facilities.
  • Lullingstone Country Park in Kent wtih adventure playgrounds and hiking trails.
  • Coombe Hill Nature Reserve in Buckinghamshire for lovely views (and Wendover Woods is nearby for the Gruffalo Trail).
  • Box Hill is a beautiful green space in Surrey managed by the National Trust with play areas, a natural play trail, woodland and riverside walks.
  • Epping Forest in Essex is a beautifly, historic forest with fantastic walks and lots to do in the local area.
  • Colne Valley Regional Park in Buckinghamshire is the first taste of countryside west of London. Made up of lots of waterways among the green spaces.
  • Dunstable Downs in Bedfordshire is a great place for kite flying. Combine it with a visit to Whipsnade Zoo next door.

Father and two sons looking at the view from the top of Coombe Hill.

This days trips from London for families have enabled us to create so many fun memories over the years.

If you have any family days out from London that you would like to recommend, please let us know!