Keeping the kids app-y: London’s best family-friendly visitor apps

Hotel Apps

At some time or another, your children will discover the entity that’s the smartphone and, like it or not, they’ll doubtless become hooked. Yet, don’t worry; when this happens there will be hope, not least when you and yours travel to, well, somewhere like London for a break away and some serious family time. Indeed, far from isolating your little ones, a smartphone – thanks to the myriad number of apps out there; specifically those catering to family-friendly urban travel and sightseeing – may do far, far more than you might think in pulling your kids into the holiday and spending quality time with their parents…

Hoop

Designed to bring under one umbrella all the different possible activities and venues ideal for kids in the capital, Hoop certainly has the right name given its ambitions. And it’s a very useful little app too, enabling users to browse for things going on via location, distance (in terms of travel) and date. It also allows you to discover what’s effectively the ‘top picks’ of others who’ve downloaded and used, it thanks to its ‘Most Popular Lucky Dip’ feature.

Tower Bridge

Endearing kids to the city’s masterpiece that proudly straddles the Thames as an elegant monument to brilliant Victorian construction, this app’s especially suitable for the 5-11 age range, offering as it does features like the opportunity to (virtual reality-like) tighten bolts on a shaky engine with the smartphone as a wrench or doing the same to shovel coal in the boiler room – or even guiding a make-believe vessel along the river by moving the phone and tipping it one way or the other as necessary. The fun doesn’t stop there, though, because it also makes available interactive, educational stories about the bridge’s history, as well as helping children to spot landmarks and more when standing on either of the high-level walkways and looking out on the fantastic panorama of the city around them.

Riverside London

Dedicating itself to a quartet of tourist-friendly areas on the banks of the Thames, this application enables you to discover all you’ll ever need to know – and this entice you to visit – the South Bank, Bankside, London Bridge and Vauxhall village. For each of these little districts you’ll find details on specific retail outlets, eateries and places to stay, in addition to the always useful maps. Special mention should go to the South Bank section, though, because given this part of the app’s drawn from and connected to the area’s official website, the detail is particularly good and comprehensive.

Citymapper

An excellent app for working out how to get from ‘A’ to ‘B’ wherever you are (not just in London), Citymapper’s actually great for kids as well as adults enjoying a short-break away, as its ease-of-use and appealing visuals enable young ’uns to get involved in the actual planning of a day out along with their parents. An added bonus – and something kids are likely to be tickled by too – is its ‘rain safe’ option. Be sure to download this application then; it’s one that goes together with a quality luxury hotel app very well, indeed.

London Transport Museum

Are you – or your little one – a Tube enthusiast, a fan of trams or a lover of those classic red double-decker buses? If so, the Covent Garden-located Transport Museum, with all its public transport-themed vehicular exhibits of lore, is somewhere you simply have check out during your visit. And the venue’s app is all about getting the most possible out of the place; not only does it identify particular highlights, but also showcases events taking place throughout the year ahead, offers digital content not available anywhere else and throws users’ way marvellous deals and offers; such as the chance to request free posters – imagine your wee tyke’s face light up when they get their mitts on one of them!

National Portrait Gallery

As far as this blogger’s concerned, this very venue – which brings to life the last 400-plus years of English/ British history via the means of portraiture – is absolutely one of the capital’s very best. But how much will it genuinely appeal to children; not least yours? Well, not only will it give them an idea of the place via imagery, video and audio content (and so the chance to discover one or two of its remarkable and vividly unforgettable images and their interactive add-ons, which they then may want to check out when they get to the venue for real), but it also helps parents plan a trip before arriving or catch up on what they weren’t quite able to squeeze into an hour or two’s visit; there’s simply so much to see at the National Portrait Gallery that sometimes it’s hard to tear yourself away.

Stray Boots

What 12-year-old doesn’t enjoy the idea of a scavenger hunt? That’s this app’s raison d’être, for sure; offering, as it does, opportunity to kick-off a route up to two miles in length that challenges users with tasks as they progress away from an iconic landmark, such as questions based on local trivia and irresistible riddles. The available ‘hunts’ through Central London are particularly good; fun but unquestionably informative and educational.

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