Why the RAF Museum London is Great For A Family Day Out

A visit to the RAF Museum London offers a really fun and educational family day out. Incredibly, it is free to visit, although we always encourage people to leave a donation to help with the running costs of this fantastic facility. It’s one of the many free things to do in London with kids and is definitely one of the best family-friendly attractions in the UK in terms of suitability for the whole family.

We visited in November 2019 on a cold and blustery day and were very glad to be able to spend almost the entire visit inside in the warmth. Despite being inside, there was plenty of room in the enormous hangers for the kids to run around. It’s an excellent choice for a rainy day activity in London, learning the complete history of the RAF from the early days of flight to the formation of the RAF in 1918 and through to the present day.

This post covers everything you need to know about visiting the RAF Museum London with kids and grandparents. Just one thing to bear in mind if you are visiting with elderly relatives is that there is a lot of walking around the exhibits and between the hangers and they may not be able to access the tighter spots in the Sunderland flying boat.

RAF Museum London entrance

RAF Museum London is free entrance but a donation is encouraged

Where is the RAF Museum?

The Royal Air Force Museum London is located on the site of the former Hendon Aerodrome in Hendon. It’s about 10 miles from the centre of London.

How to get to the Royal Air Force Museum

By Car

If you’re coming to the RAF Hendon museum by car, take Junction 4 off the M1. It’s about 15 minutes from the M1.

RAF Museum Parking

There is an enormous car park at the Royal Air Force museum but it can get very busy during the school holidays and sometimes there are large queues to get in. If you are visiting by car, go as early as you can.

RAF Museum Hendon parking charges:

0-3 Hours – £4.50 per vehicle
3-6 Hours – £6.00 per vehicle
Up to 9 Hours – £9.00 per vehicle

You will need to pay at the end of your visit. There are machines in the main entrance where you enter your car registration and they will tell you how much you owe.

By Tube

The closest tube station is Colindale on the Northern Line (black line). Colindale station is about 1 km from the RAF Museum so if you don’t want to walk, you can take the bus (303) or a taxi.

By Train

Mill Hill Broadway is the nearest train station and this is on the Thameslink line. The main line runs from Brighton on the south coast through the centre of London (London St Pancras International) and up to Bedford. From London St Pancras, the journey should take you about 30 minutes.

By Bus

Bus route 303 passes the entrance to the RAF Museum. If this route doesn’t suit you, you can check on TFL Journey Planner for other ways to get there by bus.

RAF Museum Opening Hours

The Royal Air Force Museum opening times are:

10 am to 5 pm November to February

10 am to 6 pm March to October

Last entry is 30 minutes before closing time.

Eating at the RAF Museum London

RAF Museum London Cafés

There are 3 cafés at the museum. The Sunderland Café and the Wessex Café offer lighter fare while Claude’s has a range of cooked meals. We chose to eat at Claude’s because we wanted a nice, warming meal. It was also a lot quieter in here.

Café at the RAF Museum London

Café at the RAF Museum London

RAF Museum Playgrounds

There’s a main outdoor play area for kids and then inside there are a few small model aeroplanes dotted around the museum for them to explore. Smaller kids will love these as they are very good replicas of the real ones you see around the museum.

REF Museum London playgrounds

Indoor and Outdoor play equipment at the RAF Museum London

Extra activities for kids (and big kids)

There are a few extra activities that you can try around the museum. Some of them are payable.

Flight simulator – the minimum height for this is 1.5m and it costs £6

4D Red Arrow experience – the minimum age for this is 4 and it costs £6

Red Arrow Ride at the RAF Museum London

Red Arrow Ride at the RAF Museum London

There are also fun and educational games for kids in the different hangers. You need to look out for the booklets on the walls as you enter the hangers.

Educational games for kids at the RAF Museum London

Educational games for kids at the RAF Museum London

The kids (and grandpa) also enjoyed the mission control section where you get to experience some of the innovative technologies of the RAF and take tests. There’s also a console where you get to  ‘control’ a drone and drop bombs.

Interactive fun at Mission Control at the RAF Museum London

Interactive fun at Mission Control at the RAF Museum London

RAF Museum Shop

The museum gift shop is located in the main entrance hall next to the enormous Sunderland flying boat. It has a load of RAF and Red Arrow branded gifts that make lovely souvenirs of your visit.

The Gift Shop at the RAF Museum London

The Gift Shop at the RAF Museum London

Our tips for your visit to the RAF Museum

  • Arrive early so you can get parking
  • Wear comfortable shoes because there’s a lot of walking
  • Bring pens to complete the kids’ activity sheets
  • Hit the café early as it can get busy

We really enjoyed our visit. We were so impressed not only with the sheer number of planes on display but by the size of some of them. How on earth they ever got up into the air is mind-boggling! All the staff were friendly and willing to answer any questions.

Some of the planes on display at the RAF Museum London

Some of the planes on display at the RAF Museum London

Are there any other RAF Museums?

If London is too far for you, there’s also the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford which is closer to Birmingham.

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