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 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.
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 spray virtual paint onto a giant 10-metre digital graffiti wall, sit inside a futuristic concept car, 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.
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.
The Story Garden is open now. Discover more via the Global Generation website.
Explore, splash, run, make, build…with PLAY KX
Come rain or shine, PLAY KX is open to children of all ages. The play hub is run by experienced playworkers and is always free of charge. Just bring your imagination!
The group usually meets in the Crossing in the winter and Lewis Cubitt Park in the summer months. But follow @playkx on Instagram for daily updates on what, where and when. Come join the gang Friday to Sunday 11 am – 5 ish. Children must be accompanied by a grown-up.
Get your game on with table tennis
If you’re a ping pong fan, then head to the wide-open area in the Granary Building known as The Crossing, and you’ll find four full-sized ping pong tables. Challenge the kids to a game – there is plenty of room to show off your moves, and it’s completely free to play with no booking required!
If there’s an event in The Crossing, the tables are moved outside. Head to the Visitor Centre on Stable Street for bats and balls and all you need to know.
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.
Be ‘incurably curious’ at The Wellcome Collection
If you fancy adding an educational spin to your day out at Kings Cross, you are 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, plus 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 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.
Have fun in the fountains at Granary Square
When the weather is good, hands down the most popular thing for kids to do at King’s Cross is to splash in the fountains at Granary Square. There are 1,080 choreographed jets – each individually controlled and lit, meaning they squirt and splash in great leaping patterns, providing hours of fun.
This is the perfect way to cool off on a warm day. Even a bit of cloud and a chill in the air usually isn’t enough to stop a kid’s urge to take their socks off and get wet. For those who’ve packed a picnic, there are benches and tables around the square, or head to the canalside steps and watch the birdlife. Toilets and changing facilities can be found outside Waitrose and at Coal Drops Yard. Don’t forget to bring a towel and a change of clothes, you’ll need it!
Granary Square fountains are open daily and are on during daylight hours, so more time for fun during the summer months. And just around the corner at Lewis Cubitt Park, you’ll find more fountains!
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 Kings Cross, too. Find the photo booth near Caravane in Coal Drops Yard.
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.