Mudlarks is the Museum in Dockland’s permanent ‘gallery’ for children. I’m not sure why this is called a gallery (key exhibits are soft play and giant lego) but it definitely entertains a toddler on a rainy day.
It’s also a fun, contained and not-too-big space, for children and their carers only, so is high up my new list of good places to go with one marauding toddler and one breastfeeding baby.
Plus: it’s free, getting there is easy and fun on the DLR, and if you plan ahead you can take in one of the regular events for under-5s on the same trip. There are also under-5s events during school holidays and regular family activities in the main museum, check here for the latest…
Activities in Mudlarks include: a multi-storey soft play area with a slide; a battered but popular working docks play table (trains, cranes, ships and containers to load on and off them with magnetic cranes); giant lego construction complete with wheelbarrows and safety helmets; various ship-stacking and knot-tying stations; and a fun, running-water play area (that was closed on our last visit).
What: docklands-themed interactive stuff and soft play, apparently for 0-8 year olds. I’d say it’s really aimed at 1-5s (and brilliant for that age range): there’s nothing for pre-walkers and not much for older kids. Also, note there’s a strictly enforced 1m height restriction on the soft play area, which can be a bit of a disappointment for tall older siblings.
Where: in the Museum in Docklands, close to West India Quay DLR.
When: All day on weekends and holiday weekdays; weekday afternoons in term-time. You get a 40-minute slot.
How much: It’s free, but ticketed and it’s advisable to book in advance.
Facilities and access: Good. The buggy park gets rammed at busy times but there’s more space out in the cafe and reception. The museum is fully buggy and wheelchair accessible. There are lockers if you want to store stuff securely (£1). There’s baby changing in the disabled loo. The cafe has high chairs and does children’s meals (which I haven’t tried). If you’re coming by public transport, the DLR is accessible (and super entertaining for toddlers).