Our favourite ways to spend a fun family day at King’s Cross
Head to King’s Cross this summer for a fun day out with the family – there’s plenty to do, whatever the weather! The neighbourhood is virtually traffic-free, so parents and kids can and enjoy the warmer days playing in one of our parks. If the forecast is for rain, then there’s a host of local museums and indoor attractions to explore too. Don’t forget to check the what’s on section for family-friendly events and happenings.
Cool off in the fountains in Granary Square
On a hot London summer day, nothing beats an afternoon of running through the fountains in Granary Square. With 1080 jets to play in, there’s plenty of room on this urban beach so strip down to your swimsuits and join the fun!
Create your own play landscape at SNUG
SNUG is soft play with a difference – the soft, tactile shapes can be joined together to create your dens, tunnels, obstacle courses – the possibilities are endless! Our SNUG area is in Lewis Cubitt Park, so grownups can enjoy the sunshine and older kids can play while the little ones get creative.
Go on a free, puzzle-solving adventure with our Family Trail
How much do you know about animals and wildlife? Explore King’s Cross with this fun outdoor trail, answer the riddles and find out more about some common and not-so-common creatures. Collect your FREE trail map from the Visitor Centre and set off on a magical journey inspired by The Lost Species Project by King’s Cross Artist in Residence Lucy Orta.
Once you’re done, there’s a sweet surprise waiting for you back at the Visitor Centre!
Get close to nature at Camley Street Natural Park
Camley Street Natural Park is a great spot for kids to explore and find out more about wildlife and the natural environment, with ponds, wetlands, woodland and meadow habitats all found within the park – have a look at some of the activities you can enjoy there here.
Look out for the family drop-in days where you can get involved in pond-dipping, hunt mini beasts and follow the nature trail. Viewpoint, the floating platform has peepholes at different heights to let children look out over the canal and its wildlife. Hidden from view, see if you can spot swans and moorhens. If you’re really lucky, you might just catch a glimpse of a colourful kingfisher looking for his lunch.
Dive into David Hockney’s art at Lightroom
Lightroom, in Lewis Cubitt Square, is a vast gallery space equipped with the latest in audio and visual technology that allows artists to create incredible immersive experiences. Their celebrated inaugural exhibition, David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away) is a fantastic, engaging show that appeals to all ages. Adults and kids can be inspired by the beauty of the world as seen through Hockney’s eyes, and the unconventional, projected nature of the exhibition makes it unusually small-child-friendly.
Go boating through historical London
The London Canal Museum, a short stroll down the Regent’s Canal from King’s Cross, gives a fascinating insight into boat life and the importance of canals to Britain’s industrial development, so it’s always worth a visit.
From April 9 – July 30, the museum will also be running boat trips on their narrowboat, Long Tom. Choose from a longer trip east to Victoria Park or west to Little Venice, or the short local trip through the 1km long and quite magical Islington Tunnel. Book here.
Discover a digital playground at Samsung KX
In Coal Drops Yard, you’ll find Samsung KX. The first thing you need to know about Samsung KX is that it is not a shop. There aren’t even any tills! Instead, its a digital playground, a relaxed space where tech-loving kids can get their hands on all sorts of futuristic gadgets with everything from gaming lounges to 3D printing stations.
You can game in the bus, turn a selfie into a Van Gogh-style portrait, mix and record a cool hip hop soundtrack in the DJ booth, and design your own Samsung phone cover at the personalisation bar. There are loos and a café on-site, so you can pack as much fun into your visit as you like.
Uncover the magic of Platform 9¾
In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, the students head to Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry by dashing through the brick wall between platforms 9 and 10. Ordinary muggles can find this secret Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross station. Just look out for the lines of Potter fanatics and a luggage trolley complete with cases and a fluffy Hedwig. Once here, you can don a scarf and capture a photo as you’re off to board the Hogwarts Express. This is a must for any serious Harry Potter fan!
While you’re there, don’t miss the Harry Potter Shop next to the platform. Styled like Ollivander’s Wand Emporium, it’s full of goodies like school robes, games, models, horcruxes and chocolate frogs.
Get growing at The Story Garden
Just the place for an adventure, The Story Garden lets children plant, grow, and create, all while learning about the natural world. Located behind the British Library, this wonderful community garden is run by Global Generation with the help of local young people.
Families are welcome at any time (The Story Garden is open five days a week) and Global Generation regularly runs fun, hands-on workshops where you can learn about all things green.
Visit a floating bookshop
Ahoy there, landlubbers! You might not expect to find your favourite book floating on Regent’s Canal, but this London book barge is all about the unexpected.
Moored on Regent’s Canal next to the Lighterman restaurant, every nook and cranny of this 100-year-old Dutch barge is stacked with rows of new and used classics, contemporary fiction and a brilliant selection of new and used children’s books for all ages. It’s a charming and totally different way to browse for books! Word on the Water is open daily, 12-7pm.
Take a ‘wayward, wild and weedy’ walk
Explore the wilder side of the city with King’s Cross and Global Generations wild walks and pavement prowls.
Slow down, look more closely and discover nature in unlikely places.
The guide takes you on a walk from Bagley Walk Gardens to St. George’s Gardens, through a churchyard, along the towpath and more. There is a guide to urban trees in the area and the plants that grow here. See if you can spot all the different leaf types. There are also ideas for nature-filled activities. Download the map here.
Strike a pose in Coal Drops Yard
Did you know that Coal Drops Yard is one of the only places in the whole of London you can find a traditional black and white photo booth? Pile in, pull your best funny faces and discover the charm of an old-school selfie.
It’s a perfect memento of your fun day out at King’s Cross, too. Find the photo booth near Caravane in Coal Drops Yard.
Climb, swing, slide and splash at Handyside Gardens
Tucked away just off Granary Square you’ll find the lovely pocket park, Handyside Gardens.
Follow the water channel to the children’s play park. Here you’ll find swings, a slide and a sandpit to keep the little ones entertained. Tots can have all kinds of fun pumping water into the water rill and splashing about afterwards. The park is lit in the evenings.
Get your game on!
The table tennis tables at King’s Cross are totally free for anyone to use. Just choose your opponent (be that dad, mum, a sibling, a mate, or a friendly passerby!) and pick up your paddle. Both tables are in The Crossing, the covered open space just beside Central Saint Martins in Granary Square.
If the bats and balls aren’t at the tables, you can get them from the Visitor Centre.
Family-friendly places to eat
If you’re coming to King’s Cross for the day with kids, you might want to check out this listing of kid-friendly eateries in the neighbourhood.
You’ll find everything from crowd-pleasing pizza through to more adventurous offerings.
Be ‘incurably curious’ at The Wellcome Collection
If you fancy adding an educational spin to your day out at King’s Cross you’re spoilt for choice, with the Wellcome Collection, The Francis Crick Institute and the British Library all moments away.
The Wellcome Collection is a quirky museum exploring the connections between medicine, life and art. As well as a central collection of medical antiquities, there are interactive displays, a wonderful library, a restaurant and a café. Pick up the Young Explorers pack and journey through the Medicine Man exhibition and the Reading Room, discovering all sorts of oddities including Charles Darwin’s walking stick and Napoleon’s toothbrush! Suitable for ages 5-10.
The museum also hosts regular family-friendly events throughout the year, available to book on the Wellcome website. All the exhibitions and most of the events are free and open to everyone.
When you visit, be sure to check out the gift shop – there’s a great selection of children’s books, stationery, science kits and toys, plus some more offbeat stuff that kids will love, such as sweets made out of impacted earwax (…well ok, it’s fudge really, but still – yuck!).
Become a mini scientist at The Crick
The Francis Crick Institute is a beautiful state-of-the-art research centre on Midland Road. There are 1500 scientists, engineers and technicians working here every day, dedicated to better understanding the biology of health and disease.
The building is open to the public so you can pop in any time to have a look around, visit the café and check out the permanent exhibitions. The Crick also runs a fantastic events programme, with lots of fun for kids. Keep an eye on the what’s on listings for free film screenings, Crick Family Days and the hugely popular Meet the Scientist, where you can chat with the scientists, discover what life in the lab is really like, and even get hands-on to use some of the equipment they use in their daily work.
Curl up with a good book at the British Library
The British Library is jam-packed with treasures, with the Magna Carta, the works of Shakespeare, original notebooks filled with drawings by Da Vinci and much, much more.
Kids can explore the most exciting exhibits by using the Family trail to guide them. Pick up a trail at the Information Desk, then start your hunt. You’ll journey from the 15th-century printing press to the King’s Library packed with clues, through the enormous stamp collection, and stop on the way to listen to The Beatles – all while learning about the items through drawings, quizzes, and games.
Check out the what’s on section of the website before your visit, as the library runs monthly workshops, family days and special events such as autism-friendly early opening sessions. You can expect arts and crafts, storytelling from favourite children’s authors, songs, den building, illustration workshops, screenings, and fascinating talks, with something for all ages. And, of course, there’s quite a selection of children’s books available to curl up with and enjoy.
Take a step back in time at The Foundling Museum
This charming museum gives a glimpse into a fascinating piece of London history. It tells the story of the Foundling Hospital, created in 1739 to provide a home for abandoned children, as well as the extraordinary group of people that fought to keep the hospital going.
Dress up as King George, a solider or a Victorian servant from the fantastic costume selection, visit the reading corner, try out the interactive models, and listen to Handel in a beautiful music room on the top floor. The displays are designed with kids in mind, with child-friendly questions and trivia dotted throughout.
Ask at the front desk for the trails – younger kids can try to spot all the objects in their booklet as they make their way around, while older kids will love the Hetty Feather trail. Readers will recognise Hetty as the star of the popular Jacqueline Wilson books, a tale about a young girl abandoned at the Foundling Hospital. With Hetty, discover what everyday life was like for the children who lived here, with colouring, activities, and clues to follow.
Hands-on learning workshops take place during the school holidays, while the trails, dress-up and art trolley are available every day.
Take the mail train at The Postal Museum
Whether you’re a keen philatelist or not, The Postal Museum is a fantastic day out for the whole family. Start with a ride through history on the old mail train as it speeds through the ancient tunnels under King’s Cross, then head into the museum proper where you’ll find interactive displays, vintage postal uniforms to try out, and the chance to create a stamp featuring your own face.
Younger kids will love dressing up and playing postie at Sorted!, while older kids can try sending mail across the museum via the pneumatic tube system.