My two sons – aged four and two as I write this – love most kinds of vehicles. They like pretending to drive my car, watching bulldozers on building sites and waiting to see the train at the crossing. Planes fascinate them too – but they’ve not yet been on one as we’ve stayed in the UK to go on holiday. So keen to see some we decided to venture further afield to the RAF Museum in Hendon, London. We don’t normally go that far for a day out, but knowing this was free, and with a friend keen to go too, we made an on the spur of the moment decision to go. Watch our video below and then scroll down for more information.
What is the RAF Museum in Hendon, where is it and how much does it cost?
The RAF Museum is a big collection of aircraft, aviation artefacts and memorabilia. There’s loads to see and there’s a really good interactive area which is great for children. The address is RAF Museum London, Grahame Park Way, London NW9 5LL. It was about an hour from Milton Keynes – most of the journey is down the M1 before coming off at junction 4. It’s FREE admission, but you do pay to park. When we visited in early 2018 it was £3-£4 depending on how long you parked for.
What is the RAF Museum like?
Once we parked the car in the main car park for the museum, it was then just a short walk to the main entrance to the building. The aircraft hangar is huge and houses lots of big planes. There are several which have platforms which you can climb to get a closer look. We only found one where you could actually sit in the cockpit which my boys loved. The thing is because it was the only one there was always a queue for it, so the children really only had about 30 seconds in it which was just about enough time to have a quick play and take a photo of them. It was really fascinating to get up close to a lot of the aircraft – the children especially loved the helicopters as they rarely get to see them up close. As with most of the places we visit, the area they enjoyed most was the one with hands-on activities which in this case was the aeronauts area where they got to try out low level hang-gliding, sit in pretend planes and press various buttons in different experiments. We could have easily spent longer playing there. Plus, what is also brilliant is that they have an indoor picnic area in this bit so the kids can eat as well as play.
Anything we’d change about the RAF Museum, Hendon and is it worth going?
I know it’s a fine balance between preserving aircraft and allowing people to enjoy them but it would be brilliant if there were more that people could have a go in. There was one plane there where could you pay to sit in it, but we were reluctant as it was £10 and I didn’t really think it was worth it for the children. Overall though I’d say it’s an excellent day out. We didn’t get to explore the other building which I believe at the time we visited housed a First World War in the air gallery. We were there a couple of hours – but could have easily stayed for much longer.
We liked the RAF Museum, what other museums are also free?
We’ve also been to Stockwood Discovery Centre in Luton. It has galleries full of wagons as well as very pretty gardens and a play area. The Natural History Museum in Tring has 4000 dead animals ranging from polar bears, to tigers, to zebras to insects.
I'm Laura, mum of two boys - aged six and four. I started this website at the end of Sept 2015 whilst on maternity leave. I now work four days a week and do this blog late at night once the little boys are sleeping. It's won several awards over the last four years and I continue to run it for free and mostly focus on free, cheap, and good value days out. Do drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to contact me. Don't forget to follow all of our latest adventures on facebook, instagram and twitter and have a look at all of the videos of the places we visit on the Milton Keynes Kids YouTube Channel - subscribe to it for notifications every time I add a new place. And remember... you may been reading this post months after we visited, do check with the destination you're visiting for up to date opening times and prices. If you find this blog useful then please do comment on my posts and leave me a Facebook review - it makes doing this all the more worthwhile.