Highlights of Kew Gardens for kids
Kew Gardens holds the largest collection of plants on earth. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and cherished by millions who visit. It contains 132 hectares of astounding beauty throughout the year alongside detailed insight into the rich history of plant life. Kew Gardens is an absolute joy for families to visit. Even if you are not interested in nature, it’s a fabulous day away from urban London to get some green into you and your family’s lungs.
Because of its scale and uniqueness, you could easily spend the day at Kew Gardens wandering and absorbing the diversity of natural life around you without visiting any of the other attractions on offer. But, many of these attractions give another dimension to the Gardens and are well worth the time spent exploring. Luckily, there is also a ton of things at Kew Gardens for kids to enjoy, all very tastefully done too.
The best of Kew Gardens for kids
The Palm House
Entering the Palm House envelopes your senses. It’s like stepping into a prehistoric rainforest. My young kids and I played make believe and went dinosaur tracking (and found a robin!). We then became intrepid explorers and tackled the spiral staircase to see how tall those palm trees really were (tall). They really loved being in here looking at all the different tropical plants and it took me a while to get them out!
The Palm House is the smaller and rounder of the two iconic early Victorian glasshouses. The largest Temperate House is also worth a visit but is closed for restoration until late 2018.
More make believe for kids. Become a bee in this modern 17m high art installation. Made of aluminium piping and lit by LED lights, this giant structure’s sounds and lights are triggered by real bee activity in a hive nearby. First go underneath and listen to the sounds of bees by putting a wooden stick into your mouth and against the vibrations (yes really!). Then run up to the top and enter the structure. For added fun, leave some of your party at the bottom and you can wave to each other through the nest.
Climb up 18m to walk around the tree canopy and gain a bird’s eye view of the gardens. See who lives in the forest heights but don’t forget to walk around the bottom too to discover who lives in the undergrowth too. A fab lesson in tree biodiversity without them even knowing.
The walkway is high but very safe and secure for young children to enjoy too.
Climbers and Creepers
Kew manages to do soft play but very tastefully. This indoor play area is billed as an ‘interactive botanical zone’. It contains slides inside flowers, touchy-feely flowers to scramble up, snails to climb through, rubber sand to dig into and a heap more. My children absolutely loved it here. The floor is covered in that squashy rubber so any falls or trips shouldn’t cause any problems. There are toilets and change facilities and a cafe nearby. The toilets only have one changing cubicle with no toilet inside which is a bit of a bugbear. I imagine it gets very busy at weekends, during school holidays and when it’s raining – but doesn’t everywhere!
Coming soon – the children’s garden
The children’s garden. This new attraction sounds very, very exciting. Natural playgrounds are a joy, and as Kew knows how to do kids and nature well, we can’t wait for this to open. The website doesn’t yet say when this will be unfortunately.
Kew Gardens takes a long time to walk round. If you have people with little legs (or who are likely to moan after a while) you can pay to go on the hop on-hop off train/bus which runs regularly around the rim of the gardens.
Children £3.50. Children under 4 go free.
Open daily 10am-4:15pm
Parking is available but limited. Nearest tube is Kew.
There are cafes and restaurants at Kew but we say bring a picnic, and find your own private spot in this oasis.