Why visit the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew or as it is typically known as Kew Gardens with kids?
Although it wouldn’t be top of many parents to-do lists when visiting London, it should be – there is plenty here at Kew Gardens to keep children occupied.
We spent over four hours at the gardens during the summer and managed to cover most of its highlights. Here are some of our favourites that kids will love.
Visit a human sized beehive
Kids will love visiting the giant 17 metre tall structure the Hive to discover the secret life of bees. This multi-sensory experience is what it’s like to be inside an actual beehive, but without the bees.
This clever structure is filled with hundreds of glowing LED lights (so its even more impressive at dusk) and sounds respond to the real activity of worker bees located in a beehive at Kew.
Underneath the Hive structure are more fun immersive and educational elements such as how it might be to communicate with a bee.
Bone conductors which when touched with a wooden stick in your mouth transferred bee vibrations direct into your head, it was such a weird and unique experience.
Walk through the forest canopy at the Treetop Walkway
One of our favourite areas was the Treetop Walkway which is set 18 metres above the ground.
After you make the climb to the top via steps or a lift, a fun way to start your treetop adventure for kids is to drop a coin into the donation bin at the base of the tower. Kew Gardens is amazing at ground level, and totally spectacular from the air.
Walking literally through the forest canopy on the 200 metre walkway you get so close to nature which provides a unique perspective on the forest and across Kew Gardens toward London that typically only birds would enjoy.
If you are afraid of heights my advice would be not to look down especially when the entire structure sways in the wind – (it’s supposed to do this!).
Visit a Royal Palace
Get to visit a princess’s bedroom at Kew Palace. This is the smallest Royal Palace and has been restored to what it would have looked like 200 years ago for its residents, King George III and his family.
Have fun at Climbers and Creepers
Kids will love visiting the indoor interactive play area climbers and creepers which is perfect for younger children.
Here the girls got to climb inside a plant and learn about pollination, climb over roots, slide down tunnels and even control the deadly mechanism of a Venus fly trap.
It’s a really fun and educational place to visit when in Kew Gardens, the only problem will be getting the kids to leave.
Become a badger
See what it’s like for badgers as you explore their underground world in a life-sized recreation of a badger sett.
Here kids will love exploring the warren of tunnels that connect a badgers food stores and sleeping areas.
Take a ride on the land train
Kew Gardens is huge, nothing can prepare you for just how big these botanical gardens are.
The Kew Explorer land train is a great way to rest tired legs whilst providing you with a good overview of Kew Gardens (you can view the map here ).
During the trip our driver provided knowledgeable commentary on our journey and you can hop on and off at various points throughout the gardens to explore on foot.
There is an additional cost of £5.00 per adult and £2.00 per child.
Experience everything from a Rainforest to the Desert at the Glasshouses
After visiting the stunning glasshouse at Edinburgh’s Botanical Gardens we were excited to visit the two famous glasshouses at Kew – the Palm House and Temperate House.
The Palm House is a stunning Victorian glass house boasting 16,000 panes of glass near to the Victoria Gate entrance.
Inside its very hot and humid inside and with the exotic planting it’s literally like walking through a tropical rainforest. The girls had great fun taking photos and spotting plants including banana and cocoa.
What makes visiting the Palm House even more exciting is the 30ft high walkway around the centre section of the glasshouse which gives an aerial view of the rainforest below.
Along with the trees and plants, the Palm House also contains an underground aquarium recreating four major marine habitats home to seahorses and jellyfish.
The Palm House is impressive but at twice the Temperate House is even more spectacular and is the largest Victorian glasshouse in the world. The sheer scale of the building and the plants on offer was spectacular.
As you explore the Princess of Wales Conservatory you could instantly feel the temperature change as each area has a different climatic zone, from the steamy tropics to arid desert.
See the giant waterlilies
The giant waterlilies at Kew are like something out of the Disney movie Princess and the Frog. In summer, the Amazon waterlilies are so large that they are housed in their own special greenhouse which was even more humid and hotter than the nearby Palm house.
Climb the Great Pagoda
Venture up the 253 steps to the top of the Great Pagoda one of the gardens landmark buildings to enjoy spectacular views of London. Additional cost of £4.50 (adults), £3.00 (children)
Even if you don’t make the climb to the top children will love spotting some of the 80 dragons that sit on the roof of each of the 10 storeys of this stunning octagonal tower.
Become a nature explorer
Kew is London’s largest UNESCO World Heritage site offering unique landscapes. As we strolled amongst the awe-inspiring Giant Redwood trees the tallest of which is 39.3 metres high it felt as though you were in California not London.
What was so great about Kew Gardens was the amount of open space for the girls to run around, explore and have fun whilst learning about plants and trees that cannot be found anywhere else in Britain.
Alongside every plant and tree were information boards featuring pictures and key facts which were suitable and engaging for all ages.
Eating and Drinking
There are a variety of cafes and restaurants within Kew Gardens but our favourite was at their Orangery restaurant, an elegant Grade 1 listed building built in 1761. Inside you will find some delicious cakes, and many of them were Alice in Wonderland themed during our visit.
Kew Gardens is also a great place to enjoy a picnic as you are literally spoilt for choice for picturesque picnic spots to enjoy lunch with the kids.
Parking and Location
The best way to arrive at Kew Gardens is using public transport as parking is limited. Kew Gardens station is 500m from Victoria Gate. It is in Zone 3 and is served by the District Line (Richmond branch) and London Overground.
Alternatively it’s a pleasant 10-20 minute walk from both Chiswick where we stayed at the Clayton Chiswick or Richmond where we walked to after visiting Kew.
Admission to the Garden is £16.00 online/£17.00 at the gate per adult, children (4-16) are £4.00 online/£5.00 at the gate and under 4 years are free. A family ticket for 2 adults and 2 children is £38.00.
However to reduce the cost of entry if you are travelling to Kew Gardens by Train or Tube you can take advantage of the 2 for 1 ticket offer. Before you go visit the days out guide website.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AE
Opening Times: 10am – 5:30