Kid-friendly finds in London

The Baltimore Sun

LONDON - Bringing kids to London? You can take them to the typical tourist attractions - if you can stand the crowds and the expense. But you can also sample some sites that Londoners prefer, which can provide their own quiet, satisfying and more affordable delights. Here are 10 favorites, many of which are gloriously free.

Benjamin Pollock's Toyshop This tiny, 300-square-foot world of enchantment on the first floor of Covent Garden Market was founded in the 1880s. It carries hundreds of toys, from small novelties to handmade collectibles.

Museum of Childhood Want to see a favorite destination for London school kids? About 40,000 annually visit the Museum of Childhood to marvel over its displays of how childhood toys and objects have changed over time. Among the approximately 4,500 objects on exhibit are puppets, children's costumes and dollhouses.

Unicorn Theatre Founded in 1947, with a postwar aim of steeping a new generation in tolerance and understanding for others, this children's theater's repertoire brims with material from around the world. More than 100,000 young people, families and teachers flock each year to the inviting building where a giant white unicorn can be seen through the glass walls.

Peter Pan statue Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie had a Peter Pan statue erected in Kensington Park in the night, so that children finding it the next day would think he had flown there as Peter did in Barrie's book The Little White Bird in 1902. Created by Sir George Frampton in 1912, this lovely statue by Long Water Lake shows Peter standing on a tree stump playing a flute while fairies, rabbits and squirrels play below.

Wimbledon Stadium tour The daily tours are a thrill for tennis lovers of any age. The 90-minute tours include the No. 1 Court and the pressroom, where you can be photographed while pretending to give interviews.

Theatre Royal Drury Lane tour Constructed in 1663 and known for a time as the "King's Playhouse," the original 700-seat wooden Theatre Royal has been rebuilt as a lavish 2,196-seat, four-level theater, complete with a colorful history of bankruptcy, fire and an attempted assassination of King George III.

Natural History Museum Hear the roaring of a life-size Tyrannosaurus rex (which might be a tad scary for the youngest kids) or feel the quaking from an earthquake room. And there's so much more for young minds: butterflies and bugs and a Web cam view of bees and ants.

Wembley Stadium If you really want to do the British thing, you can catch a British rugby or football game at Wembley Stadium. Just remember that British football is what Americans call soccer.

The O2 You can see the Tutankhamun exhibit at the O2 through Aug. 31. Or you can check out this year-old complex's 11-screen cinema, street-of-leisure attractions and the O2 arena, which has hosted such events as Disney's High School Musical on Ice.

Tower of London This is the most obvious and well-known of our 10 picks, but we couldn't resist because it's on every kid's wish list and it's not far from the Unicorn Theatre. There's something for everyone, from glamour to gore.

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