8 hands-on indoor attractions for toddlers

If you fancy getting out of the house with your little one, or need some ideas for things to do with toddlers on a family weekend away, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of England’s best hands-on indoor attractions.


Pretend to be an astronaut at the National Space Centre

National Space Centre,Leicester

On the northern outskirts of Leicester, the National Space Centre is an interactive lesson in all things outer space. From the towering Thor rocket to actual moon rock, there are heaps of galactic artifacts to engage young and old minds.

Don’t Miss: Tranquillity Base – a collection of interactive activities and puzzles which test to see if your little one can become an astronaut.

More on the National Space Centre

Take the toddlers to the London Transport Museum

London Transport Museum

Step back in time at this world-famous museum, packed with 450,000 objects celebrating the rich history of London’s transport. And the best part of all? Your ticket allows you to come back all year for free! Hop on horse-drawn Victorian buses and speak to costumed actors who’ll tell you all about working and travelling in London. Budding engineers can try their hand at driving a tube train, and twice a week you can pop along to special sessions for under 5s with singing and storytelling.

Don’t Miss: The All Aboard play zone (with its own dedicated baby area) that lets little ones transform themselves into mechanics or boat captains.

Journey over to the London Transport Museum

Discover Eureka! The National Children's Museum

Eureka! The National Children's Museum

Credit: Eureka! The National Children's Museum via Yorkshire Attractions

Do your children love asking you questions that you don’t have all the answers to? Well you’re sure to find them at family-friendly Eureka!. Split across multiple zones, with 400 hands-on exhibits, there are plenty of things to do for toddlers and school-age children. The ‘All About Me’ zone is focuses on the human body – you can scan a pregnant lady’s belly, or even look up a giant nose – while Desert Discovery allows pre-school kids to experience the sounds and smells of the wilderness. 

Don’t Miss: The sensory SoundGarden – dress up, listen to lullabies and design your own butterfly. 

More on Eureka!

Find plenty of indoor activities at Mattel Play

Mattel Play Liverpool

Let imaginations run wild at the Albert Docks in Liverpool. Meet Thomas & Friends, help drive trains and meet Rosie in the meadow on the Island of Sodor, or assist Bob the Builder on site. The venue also holds special autism-friendly sessions on the last Wednesday of each month that have a calmer and more relaxed atmosphere.

Don’t Miss: Grab a helmet from Pontypandy’s Fire Station and learn what it takes to be a firefighting hero, just like Fireman Sam!

Learn more about Mattel Play

Free your imagination at Discover Children's Story Centre

Discover Children's Story Centre, Stratford

Storybooks are brought to life at this indoor attraction in Stratford, East London. Spread across two floors, children can explore different themed zones and let their imaginations run wild, before getting hands-on and creating their own stories or art pieces.

Don’t Miss: Special storytelling sessions (tailored for children of a specific age) will capture your child’s imagination and get them more interested in reading. Check the events on the website to plan your trip.

Read more about Discover Children's Story Centre

Relive your early years at V&A Museum of Childhood

V&A Museum of Childhood

From board games to dolls' houses, this museum in Bethnal Green holds the nation’s collection of childhood memorabilia. However, it’s not all about vintage toys – there are lots of fun, free activities for children of all ages. Take part in art and craft sessions, embark on educational trails or settle down to watch a slapstick Punch and Judy show. And pop by to a Play at the Museum event where the children can get their hands on an array olde wordle playthings – all of which are usually on display in the museum.

Don’t Miss: Every Saturday, under 5s can get stuck in with sensory play sessions to help boost their imaginations.

Find out more

See a family-friendly show at York Theatre Royal

York Theatre Royal

Operating for over 250 years, York Theatre Royal is one of the oldest theatres in the English speaking world – so it definitely knows how to entertain. The theatre hosts child-friendly productions throughout the year, like pantomimes and live-action versions of their favourite storybooks. And once children reach 5 years of age, they can join the Youth Theatre, where they’ll get top-notch drama training from acting experts.

Don’t Miss: Toddler-friendly workshop, Crafty Tales, which encourages creativity through crafts and multi-sensory storytime.

Find out more

Keep them busy with indoor fun at Seven Stories

Seven Stories

The seven-storey National Centre for Children’s Books is a haven for learning through words and pictures. Each themed floor is full of wonderful books and play zones designed to spark imaginations. Twice a week the centre hosts Sensory Story sessions, where they feed the curiosity of little ones through props, sounds and textures to help them engage with books. There is also traditional storytelling for the whole family three times a day.

Don’t Miss: The chance to draw, paint, write, doodle and build at The Studio – fun for every member of the family.

Find out more
06 Mar 2020(last updated)

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  • 1

    National Space Centre,Leicester

  • 2

    London Transport Museum

  • 3

    Eureka! The National Children's Museum

  • 4

    Mattel Play Liverpool

  • 5

    Discover Children's Story Centre, Stratford

  • 6

    V&A Museum of Childhood

  • 7

    York Theatre Royal

  • 8

    Seven Stories

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