From canal routes to train tracks, the King’s Cross area of London is packed with transport-inspired things to do with children. Here are five family-friendly activities to try next time you’re in the capital…
1. Take afternoon tea at The Hansom
The Hansom bar at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel makes an incredible setting for a special afternoon tea in King’s Cross. It used to be the cobbled drop-off point for the original train station, and the neo-gothic architecture serves a very different purpose now. We tested The Railway Children Return afternoon tea package and tucked into tiers of fancy finger sandwiches, tiny train track biscuits, and supersized scones – our full review is over on the Mini Travellers blog. If you really want to push the boat out, book The Railway Children Return family stay package and sleep over at this iconic hotel. But be quick, because both packages run until the 15th September.
2. Get a photograph at Platform 9¾
If you’re in King’s Cross, a stop-off at Platform 9¾ is a must – whether your kids are Harry Potter fans or not. In the books, Harry and co run through the wall between platforms 9 and 10, but it’s a lot less precarious IRL. You’ll spot the queue of people waiting before you spy the part-submerged trolley in the wall at King’s Cross Station. Get in line, take a quick snap, then prepare to shell out a fortune on Potter-inspired goodies at the shop next door.
3. Play in the fountains at Granary Square
Head out of the station and towards Granary Square – it’s a ten-minute walk, so it’s easily doable with kids. The namesake granary here was originally built to store and transport grain, and it’s now a buzzing public square surrounded by shops, restaurants and canalside bars. Go on a sunny day and the fountains in the middle are full of kids running and splashing through more than 1,000 choreographed jets that spring up out of the floor. Pack a towel and some flip-flops.
4. Buy a book from Word on the Water
If you fancy a walk, stroll along the Regent’s Canal for two minutes and you’ll find this quirky bookshop-on-a-barge. The shelves at Word on the Water are stocked full of books, from classics to contemporary fiction. There’s also a great selection of children’s books down at the far end of the boat. It’s open every day of the year from midday until 7 or 8PM – except for Christmas Day when it’s closed.
5. Pay a visit to the London Canal Museum
Cross back over the canal and stop off at the London Canal Museum. It’s housed in a former ice warehouse originally built for the ice-cream maker, Carlo Gatti, so kids can learn about the history of the ice trade as well as London’s waterways. It’s open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00AM to 4:00PM, and family entry costs £14. And if you want to carry on walking afterwards, you can follow the towpath from here all the way to Camden Town for more exploring.
Looking for more ideas in London? Try 5 free things to do with kids in Westminster.