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England Itinerary?

Hey Everyone.

Thanks in advance for all your help!

My wife, three children (7, 4, 4 at time of trip) and I will travel to UK for our first trip there from 4/7/2020->4/18/2020. I put together a draft itinerary, and was hoping some folks with more experience may be able to offer helpful suggestions (or possibly let me know that I'm way too ambitious!)
Thanks!!

Tuesday 4/7-Depart San Francisco
Wednesday 4/8-Arrive 1205 LHC, rent car, drive to Bath. Sleep in Bath
Thursdya 4/9-See Bath. Sleep in Bath
Friday 4/10-Good Friday-See Wells/Glastonbury. (Will the cathedral be open to the public this day??). Sleep in Bath
Saturday-4/11-Stonehenge, then drive to Chipping Campden and see the area. Sleep in Chipping Campden
Sunday-4/12-Easter-Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick Castle. Sleep in Chipping Campden
Monday-4/13-Blenheim Palace and Oxford, drive to London and return Car. Sleep in London
Tuesday-4/14-London
Wednesday-4/15-London
Thursday-4/16-London
Friday-4/17-London
Saturday-4/18-Plane leaves at 3PM.

Thanks!!!

Posted by
6948 posts

I’m past driving in UK but I’ll say in my opinion renting a car right off an international flight and driving a couple of hours is not a good idea. I’d take public transit to Bath then rent your vehicle there on the day you’re going to Wells/Glastonbury.

I’ll also ask if you have a huge interest in Glastonbury/King Arthur? This is how Rick’s Best of England tour starts and while it’s fine I’d only include it if it’s something you would find interesting. For me the abbey ruins were fine but the New Age shops were pretty tatty.

The kids might enjoy Avebury where you can actually walk among the stones.

Your Sunday looks pretty busy. I’ve not been to Warwick Castle but have heard it’s fun for kids. Might be too much to add in Stratford upon Avon.

Posted by
751 posts

What’s LHC? I assume you’re referring to Heathrow. I would never suggest renting a car on arrival day, you’ll be jet lagged and especially on the long haul from SFO. Have you driven on the left before? Remember, you’ll have 3 possibly jet lagged and cranky kids and that would make even driving a unfamiliar rental car in the USA unpleasant.

It seems you’re following a Rick Steves tour plan which is fine, but I’d invest in another guidebook as well for other ideas. There’s plenty of other places you can see besides his standard Bath/Cotswolds/London itinerary.

I would not expect most cathedrals to be open for tourism from Maundy Thursday until after Easter, but can not confirm this, it’s a really busy time in the life of any church.

There’s no need to go directly to Bath upon arrival even by using the coach (bus) from Heathrow. I know that works out well for his tours, but I’ve never thought it made sense for a self guided traveller.

Finally, there isn’t a lot there for the kids. I think they’d be bored on most of the trip.

Posted by
5247 posts

LHC is an airport in Peru. Hopefully that is not what is on your ticket.

An overnight flight then a 100 mile drive, driving on 'the other side' of the road with 3 little kids who likely will be a bit cranky because their body clock is all out of whack....... what could go wrong ????

Have you checked to see what sites will be open and what hours over the Holy Week -Easter time?

If you are using google maps to estimate driving times, it would be a good idea to add 20-30% to offset googles optimism and give yourself time to find parking etc.

Posted by
14509 posts

I think every one of Rick's suggested itineraries moves too fast through all but the tiniest places. You will have extra challenges that will probably slow you down: You have three very young children to corral and will probably run into some holiday closures.

Posted by
3350 posts

I've flown London to San Francisco and would never dream of renting a car straight off that flight and I've been driving in the US regularly for over a decade. If you insist on going straight to Bath then I recommend the National Express coach and then rent a car in Bath the following day.

Wells/Glastonbury is likely to be a disappointment. I agree with the advice to visit the stones at Avebury, your kids can run around and touch them, explore them close up as opposed to viewing them from a distance. I suspect your 4 year olds would be very bored with Stonehenge and would in no way appreciate their significance.

Warwick Castle will be open on Easter Sunday (Christmas Day is the only day it is closed) and your kids will definitely enjoy it. I haven't been to Stratford-Upon-Avon but again, I doubt there will be much to entertain the kids.

The Cotswolds......meh.

Not enough time in London in my opinion. With such young children there is so much more for them to see and do and interest them in London than any of the other places you're visiting. Your itnerary appears to be straight our of a Rick Steve's book with no consideration given to what else there is to see and do in England (my apologies if this is way off the mark) and in my opinion is geared, intentionally or not, towards adults with the exception of Warwick Castle. Whilst I appreciate the desire to see as much of England as possible there are more appropriate options than the cliched, tired routes well trodden by American tourists and with young children in tow you have to accept that there needs to be a lot of child friendly stuff to do.

Posted by
5402 posts

I’m sorry but what I am going to say is going to be a bit negative, but I’m only trying to help, honest!

As has been said, this looks like the usual Rick Steves itinerary. Whilst his books are good for some things they are in no way comprehensive and miss out huge areas of the country. If you haven’t already done so look at some other guide books for other options.

None of these sites will be of much interest to children that young. To be honest, I’m not sure some of them are “that” interesting to many adults either. I don’t think trips should all be about keeping children interested but with this itinerary you could have some really grumpy kids. What are you and your children interested in? If you let us know we can give some suggestions.

To fly from the west coast and then drive to Bath with 3 small jet lagged children is mad and potentially dangerous. If you do want to get to Bath on the first day look at using the coach (bus) service direct from the airport. You can also take the train from London Paddington which is easy to get to from Heathrow on the Heathrow Express, but again this would likely be more stressful with small children and luggage.

Where ever you drive it will take longer than you think. Definitely add 30% to any times route planners give you. Being the Easter week this will also be a very busy time on the roads. Seriously busy! People are travelling away for the week end. Roads can get really congested. Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Monday are particularly bad days for travel, sorry. Driving into London in a bank holiday Monday is notoriously bad, avoid!

All churches will have restricted opening hours for tourists over the Easter weekend. Lots of places, including shops and some restaurants , will be closed on Easter Sunday. Prepare in advance.

If you want to do this itinerary I would reverse it. Start in London and spend the Easter weekend there, then travel out of the city to explore the other sites.
This will allow you all to more easily recover from jet lag, settle in and be in a better shape to explore. If you do decide to do it this way round take the train to Bath to pick up a car. Don’t drive out of London. Also plan to arrive at Heathrow the night before you fly home to allow for possible delays.

Another option would be to use London as a base and take day trips out to sights you are interested in. Stay in a flat, Airbnb rather than a hotel to give you all space, the option to cook and the ability to close doors on sleeping children!

A final option is to split your trip into 2 locations. Spend half the time in London then take the train to spend a couple of days in York. (This is a Rick Steve “approved” thing to do if that concerns you! :-) ) There is lots to do in York including stuff suited to young children. It’s easy to get to in a couple of hours on the train which is a much more enjoyable and interesting way to travel for children than strapped into a car.

Posted by
3257 posts

We did all the places that you listed on a four week drive tour of Wales and England. It was great. Actually, we had done Stonehenge on an earlier trip.

Here is my detailed story of our trip with great choices for hotels or B&Bs. The Brooks Guesthouse in Bath is great. Also, dine at the Scallop Shell for the best Fish and Chips.

In Chipping Campden, the Volunteer Inn is great with the best pub in town and a great Indian restaurant.
https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=599139

Some have opined that driving right after an international flight is not advisable. I agree that you should consider your options on that. I have done that more than once on trips to Europe. I am usually so excited about our trip that I am not sleepy. The trip to Bath will take you about 2.5 hours. Be sure you have a GPS or Nav system on your rental car. Recommend renting an automatic.

It is a personal decision on driving after a flight. If you are concerned, take the train to Oxford, visit that city and then rent a car when you are ready to depart. Parking in Oxford is terrible and likely you would have to park in a satellite lot.

Also, you could do Blenheim from Oxford on your way to Chipping Campden.

Stratford Upon Avon is great, especially if you love Shakespeare. Go for the 5 site tickets at the Shakespeare center and use the HoHo bus which covers all the sites. Parking is in a large lot at the south end of the city.
https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=599139

We visited Wells (nice Cathedral there) and Glastonbury on our day trip from Bath. Wells was better than Glastonbury. What you see at Glastonbury are ruins. It should be open.

Warwick Castle is nice and you kids will enjoy that visit. We saw more children in Warwick Castle than anywhere in England or Wales.

Consider doing Stonehenge at the end of your Cotswolds trip and take in Windsor Castle as well.

Posted by
435 posts

First, I support the idea of taking children to historical sites but I think your overall itinerary is not realistic. I question whether children as young as yours are going to enjoy most of the places you plan to visit. Oxford and Blenheim seem pretty dull for little kids. Warwick sounds like a potential winner. Glastonbury is tacky shops, ruins that aren't particularly interesting, and possibly climbing the tor. I'd skip Stonehenge and opt for a stone circle the kids can actually explore and run around. Wells is an exceptionally beautiful cathedral but again, I question if that's a good choice for young kids. I'm suggesting you rethink your entire itinerary to make it more kid-friendly. Perhaps ask on the Forum for suggestions about what kids might like.

I understand that driving with four people is probably less expensive than using public transit and some of your destinations (Wells, for example) are more easily accessible by car. However, driving on the left (and shifting left-handed) takes some practice. Country roads in England tend to be narrow by US standards and the car will be useless in places like Oxford. Driving after your long flight is exceptionally dangerous. You might want to reconsider using public transit.

Posted by
21 posts

This is what I would recommend for you.

Arrive in London Heathrow and take the bus from the airport to Bath. It is a lot easier to do that, than messing around with car rentals at Heathrow and driving out from there -- especially if you have never been to the UK before and are not use to that style of driving.

Once you arrive in Bath via coach, you can then either decide to go to a car rental agency immediately (there are a handful in the Bath area not far from downtown), or just wait until the next day since you wouldn't be leaving the city the day you arrive.

Chipping Campden is a really nice Cotswold village, but I personally thought Stow-on-the-Wold had more to offer and just, if not more, charming. Plus from Stow with a car, you can travel not only to Chipping Campden, which is not far, but other villages as well. If you and your children are into nice nature walks, maybe try driving to Broadway (again, not far from Chipping and Stow-on-the-Wold), and take the walking path directly from that town. It takes you to the top of a hill, where Broadway tower stands and is a great view and perfect place for maybe a family picnic (great little market to pick up local cheeses, meats, breads and other produce just in town).

Posted by
474 posts

You could get as many opinions as there are people on the forum. :) For what mine’s worth, never having traveled in Europe with kids the ages of yours (although I have 4):

All of this is doable (except maybe driving right after the flight) if your kids are good travelers.
If you are headed out from Heathrow immediately, take the train. You will need your wife as navigator as you begin and she may already have her hands full.
All the sites you propose are fine, if that is what you want to see. For a first trip, it’s understandable to pick what we read about as the “must-sees” but only you (having researched) know if they are YOUR “must-sees”. And while three locations with 3 little ones is ambitious, you have not absolutely overpacked the itinerary.
I don’t think your kids will truly appreciate either Stonehenge or Avebury, but Avebury would definitely be easier to manage (plus they may see sheep and it’s free).
Driving (and parking) in Bath is not easy, I have read. I personally have only used the train.
I enjoyed Glastonbury (abbey only) and it would be easy with kids. And I loved Wells Cathedral but I am not sure I would spend a day on these two places. You might consider Salisbury Cathedral instead and pair it with stones.
It’s a lot of work to get to the Cotswolds for only 2 nights - and your only full day will be spend elsewhere. Not sure it would be worth it. As others have said, MANY areas are beautiful.
If you spent a day seeing Salisbury and your choice of stones, and you REALLY want to see the Cotswolds and Warwick Castle, dropping the day with Glastonbury and Wells would allow you to arrive in the Cotswolds with a little bit of time to stop and visit as you drive to Chipping Camden. Realistically, you don’t have that now.
I admit to including Oxford only for a half-day like you seem to be planning, and I absolutely shudder at visiting it with kids - so dropping that would be my only strong recommendation.

Hampton Court Palace might be fun for the kids, if you get there when the costumed guides are there. We got there late afternoon and they weren’t.

The real keys to a successful trip are leaving yourself the ability to be flexible with the little ones and how they are feeling, being prepared to adjust, knowing what you can leave out if necessary, and not over-scheduling so that you and your wife are frazzled.

Posted by
2 posts

I live in England so I probably look for different things when travelling around the country than a foreigner would, but personally I'm not that fussed at all about Glastonbury or Stratford. I think the nicest bits of the Cotswolds are the bits closer to Bath, such as the area around Slad that Laurie Lee described in Cider With Rosie and, while Warwick is a big castle, it's far from the only one in the country so it might be an idea to stay in the Bath area longer and go to somewhere like Berkeley Castle (where Edward II was murdered).

Your plan for Monday sounds ambitious and tiring - I don't think you'd have much time to really see anything much in Oxford by the time you've battled the traffic and parked, though the traffic back into London might not be too bad on a Bank Holiday.

My children are happy enough to go to historic places and will happily charge around a castle at warp speed, but they mostly just want to go to a decent adventure playground so maybe ask somewhere like Mumsnet for advice on where some good ones are near Bath. Wells Cathedral is lovely. The good thing about going to playgrounds is that they are a really good place to get talking to the usually reserved Brits and that might be nice for you as your itinerary is very much based on historic sights that give quite a skewed view of modern Britatin. In London there are lots of good little play areas tucked away that you might not notice - Google Maps is your friend. My children liked the one at Spa Fields at the top of Exmouth Market in Clerkenwell, which is a nice area to wander around. They also liked HMS Belfast.

Enjoy your trip

Posted by
386 posts

My first day driving in the UK was a bit stressful and you'll likely want your wife as a navigator for reminders that you're driving on the other side of the road,
especially when you get to intersections and traffic circles. If you do decide to take a train to Bath, Enterprise Rent a Car in Bath will allow you to drop off at another location like the airport. There will be a fee but I do agree with others that driving that first day will be tough, especially after a flight.

Some suggested going to London first, that's what we did Sept 2019 and then to Bath and the Cotswolds. It gave us time to to get used to the time difference and slow our pace for the first couple of days.

We stayed at Chipping Campden when we got to the Cotswolds and it's just ok. Not much to see and do, not many restaurants but it's fine for a place to sleep. If we go back we will likely stay in Stow on the Wold.

Warwick Castle will be great for kids. The 8 year old boy in me loved it. Honestly, I'd plan a full day.

Posted by
3350 posts

We stayed at Chipping Campden when we got to the Cotswolds and it's just ok. Not much to see and do, not many restaurants but it's fine for a place to sleep.

This is what I think of the entire Cotswolds area which is why there is a general bemusement among many British posters over why the area garners such interest and is seemingly on every American tourist's itinerary. It's simply a collection of old villages with an overabundance of tea rooms and antique shops. Attractive? Yes but not much to do.

Posted by
267 posts

I live near Greenfield Village a history museum consisting of old building acquired by Henry Ford. (Thinks like Edison’s lab and the Wright Brothers bicycle shop). And they have an old stone cottage brought over from the Cotswolds along with an old black smith shop. These are extreamly charming buildings and set in amongst all these interesting old buildings the look very nice.
At Christmas they sometimes decorate them inside and out (they did a WW2 the am a few years ago) and decorated for Christmas with reenactors in costume cooking inside at night they are magical.

It is my thinking that THIS is what most people think they will encounter in the Cotswolds.
Basically a time machine...

Posted by
3350 posts

And this is exactly what The Cotswolds has become. Tourists trespassing on people's property to peer through their windows as if they're in some sort of historic theme park.

Posted by
3257 posts

JC,
I find Brits posting similar posts about the Cotswolds, wondering why North Americans are so enthralled by going there. Also, I find posts wondering why we love to visit Stonehenge.

We have visited the British Isles several times and there is much to see in every corner of both islands (as well as smaller islands like the Shetlands). We spent six nights in Chipping Campden and loved it. We spent a full day plus most of another day visiting every village and town and found plenty to see and enjoy. Loved the many thatched homes and buildings. The tiny village of about 25 homes near Chipping Campden, Broad Campden was a joy in itself.

Also, we used Chipping Campden to visit Oxford, Blenheim Palace and Stratford Upon Avon. I am a Shakespeare fan and loved Stratford.

We found very scenic places all over Great Britain and especially loved South Wales, York and Yorkshire, Durham and Winchester. Loved Bath and the Roman Bath Museum.

Next year, we are coming back to see Cornwall and spend some time in London.

Yes, there are scenic places all over Britain, but the Cotswolds seem to have much to offer.

Posted by
983 posts

Here is a web site to check for kid friendly activities: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/touring-pass. There are family passes available for 7 days at 64 Pounds and 14 days at 81. There are other Passes available; but this is my favorite,and can lead you to several sites with special seasonal events that you would really want to go to. Check out the village of Lacock; a real place where Henry Potter was filmed. Bon Voyage

Posted by
10902 posts

Starting your trip in London gives two major advantages. The first, as everyone else has pointed out, is you avoid driving while jet lagged. The second is that you have no idea how your kids will adjust to jet lag and the time difference. If you're in London for a few days, that gives you much more of a cushion. If some or all of you don't feel like doing a certain activity, you can easily move it to another day or skip it in favor of something else. But if, for instance, on your Bath day, someone is tired or cranky (and it may be adult, child or both), then that day is shot, and you won't have another day to make it up.

I also agree with the importance of figuring out what your kids will like, and allowing a good chunk of time for that. If the kids aren't happy, no one will be happy.

Posted by
518 posts

There is a large and very popular children's playground at Victoria Park in Bath. It is farther along the Bristol Road near Brooks Guest House. I have not been there myself, but every time I have driven past it has been busy. It would be a good place for your children to play with others, and for you to talk with other parents.

Posted by
3350 posts

Yes, there are scenic places all over Britain, but the Cotswolds seem to have much to offer.

In what way? You mentioned a village aof about 25 homes which was wonderful to visit and I'm sure it was, particularly if you're not used to seeing such places but my point, and many others, is that there are so many villages all across the UK that are just the same, The Cotswolds is not unique in this respect. However, due to the fact that so many tourists now view people's homes as commodities that they can trespass across, look in through the windows and somtimes even try to enter as if they believe they're in some working historical museum then I'd rather not encourage such tourists to discover these other hidden gems.

Posted by
184 posts

As you plan, keep in mind that the parts of Oxford that tourists enjoy are not private car friendly. There is little parking there, so you typically have to park in a car park outside the central area. It’s a great place to walk around, but the central streets are difficult to drive through.

You might consider taking the bus/train from LHR to either Bath or Oxford on arrival, then renting a car the next day if you plan to drive in the countryside.

You could also consider staying near the airport, and visiting somewhere nearby (Windsor, Richmond) and walk around that first afternoon, or as others have suggested, stay in London for the first part. Coming from the West Coast, you will be pretty jet-lagged, and I suspect the kids will need to move around after long flights, so another 2 hours in a car may be tough.

All the best,

Raymond

Posted by
1958 posts

My husband did a short sabbatical in London when our daughter was 4. We did not do any day trips from London, but she enjoyed our weekend in Paris. The British Museum, Natural History Museum, and London Zoo are all great for 4 yr olds. I don't think they will be interested in Blenheim Palace.

Posted by
2 posts

First off I want to thank everyone for all the wonderful posts. The information has been extraordinarily helpful!

I wanted to comment/reply to a couple of the posters concerns.

--London vs. Bath first: Honestly, I think we are more excited to see London than the other parts of England (since this is our first trip) and therefore, would like to work out the jet lag some other place so we have full energy for the big city.

--Driving the same day: While I totally agree this is less than ideal, it works best for the itinerary. I'm a physician, and regularly used to pull 30 hour shifts. Won't be a fun drive, but wouldn't expect too much trouble either. Will just have to take it slow, and get a cup of coffee along the way. Also, my kids tend to fall asleep rather easily in a car-I imagine that after all the hassle of the plane, they will sleep most of the way to bath.

--Big picture for why we are choosing Bath/Cotswolds is convenience. We are in England long enough to do something outside of the city, but don't want to have to go too far. Seems like this is a reasonable drive, with enough "highlights" to keep up entertained for a couple of days. Not too particular about this vs. that sight. Just want to see something other than 1 city.

--Kids: The kids are usually fine to do what we want, so while they are a consideration, we're not going to plan the whole itinerary around them, and certainly aren't going to spend the days at attractions (like playgrounds, etc) that we have in the States.

--Bath Itinerary: Neither my wife nor I are huge museum fans, but enjoy casual viewing-this works great with young kids, because we are fine to leave when they get cranky. In terms of specifics for the itinerary, we're not really dedicated to any particular places. Glastonbury sounds ok, but would be more than happy just to drive around and see some random towns-all depending on the mood of the kids and weather, etc.. Any helpful suggestions for towns other than Glastonbury/Wells near bath? Exeter? Bristol?

--Cotswolds-Will plan to get an Air BNB here and again, really don't mind if it's in Stow on the Wold (as folks have suggested) vs. Chipping Campden vs. some other nice town. Just seems like a nice idea to get a little house in the country and take in the scenery for a day or two. After hearing from folks will most likely skip Stratford-upon-Avon and do Warwick. Should be enough for a day.

--Cotswolds back to London: Again-thank you so much for the helpful suggestions. Sounds like Blenheim Palace and Oxford is way too much for one day. Any suggestions as to which one is better for the short excursion we have time for? We recently did Hearst and the kids did just fine there (of course the 3 year old twins really have no idea what's going on). So I think Blenheim would be possible, but sounds like if we had to choose-would be better to spend the day in Oxford.

Again, I want to thank everyone for taking the time to write in comments. It really has been enormously helpful for planning this trip.

All the Best!

Posted by
14509 posts

Oxford has a superb ethnographic museum, the Pitt-Rivers, that has all kinds of cool stuff from Africa, Asia, Oceania, etc., including things like shrunken heads. It's not a kids' museum per se, but I saw a lot of family groups there. If you happen to hit a rainy day, I think that might be an option worth considering.

I imagine the kids will get a kick out of seeing thatched-roof cottages, but thinking back to my own childhood, a little of that (or scenery of any type) will probably go a long way.

Bath is extremely touristy. I'll bet there is at least one walking tour that tries to cater to families.

With a car I wouldn't head to Bristol. It's a worthwhile stop, but it's large enough that I think having a car would be an impediment. I'd take advantage of the car by focusing on smaller places during that part of your trip unless you have a specific reason for visiting a particular city.

Posted by
5402 posts

The SS Great Britain is worth a visit in Bristol but it’s not a great city to drive in.

I get your point about not visiting playgrounds as you have them in the US but I still think the Diana Memorial Playground is really worth a visit. It’s superbly done and what child wouldn’t want to climb all over a ‘full size’ pirate ship?

Posted by
435 posts

Burenmarc, so glad to read your reaction to all the posts. If you really aren't committed to any specific sites outside London, then I'd make these suggestions: limit your stops to two places because moving from place to place is time-consuming and young kids often require a bit of time to explore and settle into overnight accomodations. London and York or London and Canterbury would be my suggestions. Both York and Canterbury have limited traffic inside their historic areas and are largely walkable. Both have plenty to keep you busy, especially if you do day trips. For example, kids might enjoy Dover Castle near Canterbury. I would still suggest avoiding a rental car when you first arrive and both these cities are easily reached by public transit. My experience is that many American children rarely use public transit and this can become a big part of their travel experience in Europe.

Posted by
23 posts

Why go so far.?

I would suggest Portsmouth Harbour, Winchester, Salisbury,

Posted by
3350 posts

My experience is that many American children rarely use public transit and this can become a big part of their travel experience in Europe.

I can assure you that bus travel within Portsmouth is an experience. May I suggest the No. 23 from Leigh Park to Commercial Road, it might not be quite the experience some would be looking for!

Posted by
613 posts

If you aren’t sure that you want to go to Bath, I suggest that you look at Winchester as your first destination. It’s closer to London than Bath, most of the distance is by motorway which is easier driving, the town is very nice and great for walking around, wonderful cathedral. That’s where we went with our boys when we took them for their first European book. I don’t understand why RS does not include Winchester in his book.

From Winchester, easy day trip to Portsmouth or Salisbury.

Posted by
77 posts

For what it’s worth, here are some ideas from my family’s experiences.

We’ve taken two trips to Britain (and planning a 3rd visit for this upcoming summer before heading to Germany). Our first trip, the kids were 10, 8, 6 and the second trip 11, 9, 7.

We visited many of the places you mentioned. Here are what my kids loved - and our whole family:

I would recommend York as your ‘second city’ rather than Bath and Cotswolds, especially since it won’t be summertime. York has far more to do for kids. We loved the town! Also, you wouldn’t have to rent a car at all. Take the train 2 hours north, no transfers. My kids loved the York Castle Museum and the train museum.

If you want to continue north for another 2.5 hours, stay in Edinburgh for a few nights. My family loved Scotland. We stayed 3 nights but definitely could have stayed longer.

No car rental needed at all if you do this route.

My kids did love Warwick Castle.... but you could also do a day trip from London to Hever Castle (Anne Boleyn’s childhood home). We did that last spring break - the gardens were beautiful and there was quite a bit that my kids enjoyed.

I also would recommend Canterbury. Very fun town to walk around. My kids loved the punting boat ride. Easy train ride from London.

Take the train to Hampton Court Palace. My kids loved that day out!

So much to do! My kids definitely enjoyed the things mentioned above more than their 1 day in Bath and a couple days we spent in the Cotswolds.

Good luck!!

Posted by
435 posts

Just a comment on kids and Portsmouth. I just visited the old harbor area last month and thoroughly enjoyed it. It would be a great destination for a family but with the caution that the highpoints are exploring historic ships that may not be safe for little children. The steep steps and ladders in HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, the submarine, etc., might be more than a pair of four-year olds can manage.

Posted by
92 posts

Just had to add that my ten year old daughter's favorite part of our trip to London was riding the subway and riding on the trains to our various destinations like Salisbury, Oxford, and Wales.

Posted by
10 posts

Driving the same day: While I totally agree this is less than ideal, it works best for the itinerary. I'm a physician, and regularly used to pull 30 hour shifts.

Do you have an interest in A and E?

It's not less than ideal it's dangerous.

Posted by
22569 posts

The SS Great Britain is worth a visit in Bristol but it’s not a great city to drive in.

Emma qualifies for Understatement Award for October/November

Posted by
7 posts

Stonehenge is worth it. I was skeptical but was taken by it.

You can’t do justice to Bleinheim Palace and Oxford on the same day. Pick one. Oxford has more variety to offer than the Palace. But either works.

You could, of course, spend the entire time in London without getting bored. Beyond the A list sights, consider taking a tour of High Gate cemetery or spending a nice spring day at Kew Gardens. If you go to a big museum such as the V & A, just pick one or two exhibit halls and don’t try to see the whole thing.