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The UK’s best family day out is this ‘brilliant little museum’ in London

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This museum in south east London is the best for family days out (Picture: Emma Clarke)

There are so many options when it comes to a family day out in London, but you could be overlooking one of the capital’s top spots.

The Horniman Museum and Gardens has been crowned London’s best family attraction, reigning above the likes of The Young V&A, the Science Museum and The London Transport Museum, among others.

The quirky South London tourist attraction, famous for its giant Walrus, has been welcoming visitors since 1901, and there’s plenty to keep both kids and parents entertained.

And while it may not have the reputation of some of the city’s other offerings, it often gets rave reviews, with the Telegraph calling it a ‘brilliant little museum’.

The Horniman was bestowed the grand title of best family day out in an annual survey by Muddy Stilettos. A staggering 515,000 votes were cast to crown the winner.

So, if you’re planning a trip, here’s everything you need to know.

The Horniman Museum opened in 1901 (Picture: Emma Clarke)

What is the Horniman Museum?

The Horniman Museum and Gardens is an anthropological museum which opened in 1901.

It began as a huge collection of objects and specimens that Frederick John Horniman amassed on his travels to far flung destinations including Egypt, Sri Lanka, Burma, China, Japan, Canada. His hoard of artifacts grew so big that wife, Rebekah, insisted they move to an adjoining house.

Since then, the collection has grown tenfold. There’s an array of taxidermy animals, the largest display of musical instruments in the UK (you can’t miss the huge tuba) and even a female mummy.

And you can even get up close and personal with some of the exhibits, with opportunities to pick them up and inspect them more closely.

There’s also the World Gallery, which has more than 3,000 objects from cultures around the world, such as Tuareg metalwork to aromatic herbs.

For animal lovers, there’s an aquarium with 15 exhibits that showcase aquatic environments, from British ponds to Fijian coral reefs. Child tickets are only £3 and adults can get them for just £6. 

The butterfly house is also worth a visit. Be warned, the beautiful creatures aren’t shy, and will happily take residence on your shoulder. Entry is by timed ticket, as there is limited capacity inside. It’s £6 for children, and £9 for adults.

However, the vast majority of exhibits at the Horniman – which are aimed at all ages – are free to enter. The museum is set on 6.5 hectares of gardens with great views of London – a great spot for a picnic.

What have visitors said about the Horniman Museum? 

The museum is hugely popular with visitors, many of whom make return visits and judging by their reviews of the place, we’re not surprised.

On Tripadvisor the museum has an impressive 4.5 rating. Website commenter Rachel R said: ‘ Very popular soft play if you have children, ditto small crazy golf for kids outside. On a sunny day it’s a glorious place to have a picnic.’

Meanwhile, John W wrote: ‘Had not been here for about 30 years and was pleased to find that the museum is still an exceptional place to visit.

‘It cannot be fully appreciated in one go as there are so many great areas to investigate. The gardens are extensive and butterfly house are also worth seeing.’

How to get to the Horniman Museum

The museum is free to enter (Picture: PA)

The museum is located on London Road in the Forest Hill district of Lewisham. It’s about a five- to 10-minute walk from Forest Hill Overground station.

You can also hop on either one of the 176, 185, 196 or 356 bus routes for two stops. 

The Overground station is served by trains from Central London, Croydon and Surrey, with direct train services running from London Bridge roughly every 10 minutes, and the journey should take about 20 minutes.

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