The Horniman Museum and Gardens in London is a fantastic destination for families looking to have an educational and enjoyable day out. The museum's collection includes a wide variety of cultural and natural artefacts from around the world, including everything from taxidermy animals and musical instruments to ethnographic objects and decorative arts. The gardens are also a lovely place to explore, with a beautiful lawn, a peaceful pond, and a variety of interesting plants and trees.
You won't find such an unusual and eclectic collection anywhere else in London! From baby dinosaur skeletons and taxidermied animals to baby sea urchins and aquariums, there are many things to explore at the Horniman Museum and Gardens.
So, shall we jump into the top attractions already?
Things to do
One of the best things to do at the Horniman Museum is to explore the Natural History Gallery. It's filled with fascinating specimens from animals, to plants, and mineral kingdoms. Children will love seeing the various animals on display, including a giant octopus, a giant squid, and a wide variety of birds and mammals. Some may be impressed with the taxidermy aspect of the exhibit. Each animal has been seamlessly created and gives the most realistic sense of the specimen in nature. The museum also has interactive displays which help children understand and appreciate the natural world around them.
Discover African Worlds - there are 4000 items from Africa at the museum. This collection of objects is a wonderful way to ease your kids into understanding the history, culture and art of the continent. From ceremonial items and sculptures to jewellery, there's lots to unpack.
Kick off your adventure on the 16 acres of grounds or treasure hunt for bronze items in the museum. Take a walk on the wild side on the animal trails. It's an immersive nature experience that you won't want to miss. Plus, you can all learn how to easily identify city wildlife, and the Animal Walk lets visitors walk through the centre of the new enclosures for close encounters with furry and feathery residents of the museum...
Ever had a picnic in a Dutch Barn? Summertime is great for exploring the extensive gardens and with an unmissable botanical garden centre onsite too, how could you resist this attraction? Download activity packs to help guide your green-fingered kids through the flowers and trees. There are lots of great educational display gardens which focus on materials, foods and dyes a special garden... You can also follow the trail of Sundials or catch a summer performance at the Bandstand.
Now you've explored animal walks and 16-acre gardens it's time to head beneath the surface... well the Museum's Aquarium, anyway! The aquarium has been designed from the ground up with children in mind. There are low-level viewing windows and engaging signs to ease kids into learning about these underwater wonderlands. 15 exhibits showcase aquatic environments from around the globe, ranging from the British coastline to Fijian coral reefs!
In addition to the above, the Horniman Museum also offers a wide range of activities and events for families throughout the year. These include craft workshops, where children can learn new skills and make their own creations to take home; storytelling sessions, where visitors can listen to traditional tales from around the world; and animal encounters, where visitors can meet some of the museum's live animals up close. The Museum also hosts regular free events, such as their famous farmers' market which happens every Sunday, featuring artisan producers and food sellers as well as live music and other entertainment.
Travel & Parking for Visitors
176, 185, 197, 356, P4 - stop outside the Museum and Gardens on London Road.
122 - stops on Dartmouth Road.
P13 - stops on Underhill Road.
363 - stops on Sydenham Hill Road.
See the route from Forest Hill Station by bus.
Parking is severely limited in the local area, so we recommend using public transport to come to Horniman.
A pay-and-display car park is available locally behind Sainsbury’s, and there are two pay-and-display car parks at Forest Hill station (one at the front, one at the back). Please avoid parking on private roads. For coaches, there is a drop-off point outside the Museum near the Clock Tower.
The Horniman is a five to ten-minute walk from Forest Hill station and is signposted from the platform 1 exit (towards London Road, not Perry Vale).
Forest Hill is on the London Overground line between Highbury and Islington and West Croydon / Crystal Palace line which offers a high-frequency service from North, East and South London.
The station is also well-served by trains from Central London, Croydon and Surrey. Direct train services run from London Bridge (approx every ten minutes, journey time 15 minutes) linking with the Northern and Jubilee Underground lines, and London Victoria linking with the Victoria, Circle and District Underground lines, East Croydon, West Croydon, Sutton, Purley and Caterham. Please use the Journey Planner to the right or visit TFL Journey Planner
or National Rail Enquiries
Food & Drink
You've spent the day ruminating around the beautiful grounds and reading brass plaques at the Anthropology exhibitions and in the Butterfly House, and now you've got that rumble in your tummy. Head over to the Horniman Museum Cafe for some tasty treats, hot food, drinks (including fair trade teas), and light bites.
There are menus for adults and children, with vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free food options available too.
Café opening times:
9am – 5.30pm daily.
- 5pm: last order for drinks
- 4pm: last order from the kitchen
If you're roaming the beautiful gardens and feeling peckish make sure you check out the Bandstand Cafe Kiosk - they also sell a wide range of hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, snacks and ice cream. They do not sell hot food.
Open daily from 9am – 4pm.
- There are three wheelchairs that you can borrow, free of charge. The wheelchairs will be sanitised after use. Please ask at the Ticket Desk for a wheelchair if you require one.
- Buggy parking is available in Gallery Square and next to the Butterfly House. Please note that all items are left at their owner’s risk.
- Dogs are allowed in our Gardens, but must be kept on leads. Dogs can be released from their leads in the Meadow Field but please be mindful of other visitors. Assistance dogs are welcome in the Museum.
- Baby changing facilities are available in both of the toilets in Gallery Square.
- Breastfeeding is welcome everywhere at the Horniman, but if you would prefer a private space, feel free to use the Breastfeeding Room located off Gallery Square.
- Toilets are located off Gallery Square downstairs, which is also wheelchair accessible. Baby changing facilities are available in these toilets.
- The Museum and Gardens are both wheelchair friendly with accessible toilets.
- A lift gives access to all the exhibition areas, for those with access needs.
- The ground on the Nature Trail is uneven and can be muddy in rainy weather, so is not suitable for wheelchair users or anyone unstable on their feet.
- There is limited on-site car parking and there are limited accessible parking spaces too.