I love the Horniman. I grew up living just a short bus ride away, and now my son is too. He’s been there umpteen times already but is showing no signs of getting bored of it. And we invariably head straight to the small aquarium and then our favourite two or three rooms and the cafe, so there is a lot more he has yet to discover.
The museum is just as good for babies as for toddlers – the aquarium is fascinating even for tiny babies, and on the lower ground floor there is a private feeding room with an armchair which feels like a gift from heaven when you have a wriggly, easily distractible baby who needs feeding.
Best bits: the small aquarium, perfect for toddlers, and the musical instrument room where you can press buttons to select and listen to recordings of different instruments. A small interactive room just off this one has some weird and wonderful instruments you can play with. (Only open when not in use by school groups.) There are also some giant musical instruments in the gardens you can play.
Cost: museum free, aquarium £3.00 per adult and £1.10 per child age 3+.
Travel: Forest Hill station (mainline and East London Line) has step free access and is 10-15 minutes walk away, but up a huge hill. Frequent busses go up the hill.
Where to eat: the food in the cafe is fine but not brilliant and it can be a bit hard to find a table at lunch time. But it’s the only option within easy walking distance unless you bring food with you – you can picnic in the gardens or the (unheated) glasshouse next to the museum. Otherwise walk or get a bus towards East Dulwich or Forest Hill for more options.
Note: some weekday mornings they run free and very popular story/craft sessions for toddlers – get there before 10.30 and queue up outside for a ticket. Or avoid those days altogether as the aquarium gets really busy. Check website for details.