The Natural History Museum is not only one of the most famous museums in London, it’s also one of the best free things to do in London with kids. Located along Cromwell Road and Exhibition Road in South Kensington, it sits alongside the Science Museum and across the road from the V&A Museum.
You can easily spend the entire day at the Natural History Museum (you can even stay overnight at a museum sleepover in the Hintze Hall) but at some point you will want to refuel. The museum has a handful of cafes where you can get a quick bite or a full meal. The options are:
Central Cafe: Serves a selection of sandwiches, salads, pastries and cakes. The Central Cafe is located in the Blue Zone.
The Kitchen: Located in the red zone, this is another good option for a quick bite. Sandwiches, wraps and salads are on offer as well as children’s lunches and activity packs.
Darwin Centre Cafe: Located in the orange zone, this cafe serves light bites.
T. Rex Grill: The T. Rex Grill is currently closed.
If you want to bring your own food then there are picnic areas in the green zone on the lower ground floor.
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However, if you want something different then there are a lot of restaurant options nearby. For fast food there’s a Pret A Manger on Old Brompton Road near South Kensington tube station. A branch of Leon is inside Kensington Arcade shopping centre.
A branch of the ever popular Hummingbird Bakery is nearby too selling delicious American-style cupcakes, pies and other yummy treats. You’ll find this branch at 47 Old Brompton Road, very near to the tube station.
For something a little more substantial, here’s our pick of the best restaurants near the Natural History Museum. Don’t miss our pick of the best family-friendly restaurants in central London or our favourite places for a traditional afternoon tea for kids.
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Hard Rock Cafe
Although not immediately around the corner from the Natural History Museum, the Hard Rock Cafe is not far. You can get there in 20 minutes on the bus, 25 minutes on the Piccadilly Line from Gloucester Road station or, if you’re feeling energetic, with a 30 minute walk.
This branch of the ever popular American diner is located on the corner with Hyde Park (making it a good choice if you’re visiting the Winter Wonderland during London at Christmas too).
Come here for the legendary steak burgers, the fun rock n’ roll atmosphere and the children’s menu for kids under 10 years old.
Where: 150 Old Park Lane. Nearest tube Hyde Park Corner
Kids Menu: There’s a children’s menu for kids aged under 10 years old. The menu choices include cheeseburgers, chicken sticks, macaroni and cheese and other kid-friendly fare.
Located a 20 minute walk, or a 6 minute cab ride (traffic depending) is Benihana, one of the best restaurants for families who love Asian food. Come here for the fast-paced theatrics by the chefs who whip up your meal at your table. Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant showcases favourites including Hibachi steak, chicken and shrimp. It also serves sushi and sashimi.
Where: Benihana Chelsea, Atlantic Court, 77 King’s Rd, SW3 4NX
Kids Menu: The Ninja Kids Menu is for children aged 12 years and younger.
For Middle Eastern flavours head to CERU, located right around the corner from the Natural History Museum. The menu features a range of salads and vegetarian dishes (zucchini and feta fritters for example) as well as meat and seafood options. The light lunch platter options come with meat skewers, dips and freshly baked pita bread. The food gets great reviews and the prices are reasonable.
Where: 7–9 Bute Street, South Kensington, SW7 3EY
Kids Menu: There is no dedicated kids menu but families have reported back saying that their kids loved the food.
Where: 6 Glendower place, South Kensington, SW7 3DP
Kids Menu: There is no dedicated kids menu but you can’t go wrong with pizza and pasta, right?!
A branch of this popular burger chain can be found a quick walk from the main entrance of the Natural History Museum. Choose from beef, chicken or veggies burgers with a range of toppings accompanied by their excellent rosemary salted chips.
Where: 24 Thurloe St, South Kensington
Kids Menu: A kids’ menu is available with burgers starting at £4.
For Spanish tapas then Tapas Brindisa is a good place to stop for a bite to eat. There’s a large selection of tapas including favourites such as patatas bravas (fried potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce), king prawns with chilli garlic and oil, and ham croquettes. There’s also a large selection of cured meats and cheeses.
Where: 7-9 Exhibition Rd, South Kensington, W7 2HE
Kids Menu: There is no dedicated children’s menu but there are plenty of kid-friendly items on the menu, for example the croquettes.
Just next door to Tapas Brindisa is Comptoir Libanais, a Lebanese restaurant chain that serves great food. There are lots of delicious mezze to choose from as well as grills, Lebanese burgers and warm wrap platters.
Where: 1-5 Exhibition Road, South Kensington, W7 2HE
Kids Menu: There is a children’s menu available for kids aged under 10 years old.
For burgers with a French twist head to Big Fernand. There are eight burgers to chose from including three beef, one veal, one lamb, one chicken, and one portobello mushroom. The prices range from £9 – £12.
The chips are excellent but if you really want to spoil yourself choose the frites raclette that come with oodles of melted cheese. They also serve salads and deserts.
Where: 39 Thurloe Place, South Kensington, SW7 2HP
Kids Menu: There is no dedicated children’s menu but you can’t go wrong with burgers, right?!
For burgers from the other side of the pond there’s a branch of Five Guys nearby. This is the place to go if you want a delicious but fuss-free burger (or hot dog), excellent fries and milkshakes.
Where: 43 Thurloe Street, SW7 2LQ
Kids Menu: There is no dedicated kids menu.
Fernandez & Wells
For a great cup of coffee and delicious sandwiches stop by Fernandez & Wells. This branch of the popular cafe chain also served savoury-filled croissants and cakes, along with a selection of cured meat and cheeses. There’s not a lot of seating space – a rather cramped room in the back and a handful of pavement tables on the pedestrianised are in the front – but if the weather is nice you could always pick up some food and head for a picnic in Hyde Park.
Where: 8 Exhibition Road, SW7 2HF
Kids Menu: There is no dedicated kids menu.