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London and vicinity with children ages 10 and 12

This is my first post ever, anywhere! Such a Rookie, I am.

We will be entertaining our grandchildren for the summer (8 weeks) in London while their mother is working her Monday - Friday day job. We will be going to the normal tourist things, such as the Museums, the Eye, and W Abbey. We are game for day trips, as well, and will take them to see Stonehenge and Bath using public transportation. Eight weeks is a lot of time to fill with a ten year old boy and a twelve year old girl. I am interested in suggestions that are "off the beaten path" to visit or experience with them. I would like to know if anyone has gone places or had experiences that their teens or preteens really enjoyed.

Posted by
1686 posts

The many beautiful parks in London would be a good bet (Kensington, Hyde, Regent’s, Hampstead Heath, etc.). We were in London for a few weeks when I was nine, and I loved visiting Kew Gardens.

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Posted by
5 posts

Thanks so much. We are staying near Regent's Park. Do you know if one is allowed to ride bicycles in the many parks?

Posted by
21026 posts

What incredibly lucky grandchildren!

I don't have any kids, but I want to draw your attention to London Walks. The company does walks on a huge variety of topics, some of them overtly kid-friendly (e.g., Jack the Ripper--but see Emma's comment below) and others that I'd think would be appealing enough to engage them. A lot of the guides (who are licensed) seem to be actors, so their delivery is decidedly not dull. The walks require no reservations, so you can check the day's weather before committing. You just show up and pay the 10 pounds for adults (8 pounds for seniors). The kids are free (supposedly with parents but I can't believe they're going to split that particular hair). If you and your spouse are not yet seniors, you can buy a discount card after taking the first tour that will get you 2 pounds off each subsequent tour. That should pay off given the length of your stay in London. No later than May 1 you'll be able to download the entire summer schedule. In the meantime, you can explore via the calendar on the website. The guides will have a nice printed copy of the brochure to hand out at each walk.

A lot of museums have kid-friendly activities. Explore the websites.

Posted by
6333 posts

Mud Lark Farm
Ride the Tube
Ride up top on a double decker bus
Check lift times for the Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge Experience
Harry Potter Warner Brothers Tour
Camden Lock Market
Madam Tussaud’s
Hamely’s Toy Store
Museum of Water and Steam
Transport Museum
Postal Museum
Cutty Sark
Walk along Thames Path
Little Venice

To name a few...

Posted by
21026 posts

It wasn't a typo, but I admitted to not having kids. I just took the London Walks Jack the Ripper tour last August and thought it would be OK for a 10- and 12-year old. It didn't see particularly lurid to me.

Posted by
511 posts

If they like horses, the Changing of the Guard at Whitehall (not at Buckingham Palace).

If they like boats, Greenwich. If that goes well, a long day trip to Portsmouth. And you can take the Thames commuter boats between sights like Westminster and the Tower of London.

For a kid-friendly introduction to the history of London, the Museum of London has artifacts and displays that cover the Ice Age, Roman London, Medieval London, etc. It's not "off the beaten path" but you want to do it early in the adventure so they have some perspective for later sites.

We skipped Bath when mine were that age, but if they're into Romans then go for it.

If they like planes, the RAF museum in Colindale.

If they like animals, the British Wildlife Centre in Lingfield can be reached with a train to Lingfield and a taxi. My husband and I divided up the boys that day and I took mine to Lingfield Park Racecourse instead. Check with the parents first before you encourage the grandchildren to advise you on betting strategies.

I love what Emma said about involving them in the planning. Mine were daft for Legoland at ages 8 and 11 but yours may not be - show them the website and see what they think.

Hope this helps,

Posted by
1777 posts

hey hey daviska
how wonderful to be the entertainers or you guys will be entertained. so much to do. make sure you get the oyster card and london pass. other posters will let you know more about this. under things to do have kid friendly ideas. has things to do, kids under 10 free with an adult. an old cargo vessel boat cruises down regent's canal to camden market and back one of the largest candy stores in leicester square. the lego store is nearby. the big toy shop. things to do great for kids. check theatre matinee shows
city cruises 24 hourriver pass. HOHO boat down the thames getting off/on at any of the 4 piers.
tour the underground
windsor castle ( look for kid friendly activities
changing of the queen's lifeguard at whitehall like mentioned is much better, less crowded. they have a daily dismount parade at 4pm daily. been to buckingham palace and it was a total zoo, people pushing and shoving, guards not let people past ropes, can't see much with taller people in front of you, lots of waiting, your grandkids will not be happy campers. a list and map of the markets
trafalgar square, picadilly circus, and covent gardens roam thru the plazas and we saw lots of "free entertainment" maybe carry some coins for kids to throw in hat. search the unmissable central london pub crawl through the spectacular city of westminster, with a visit to 8 historical pubs. if you have a day away from kids, have lunch in the cafe in the crypt., they have the big red bus goes around london passing well known attractions.
spend the day at regent's park, ( rent a boat/pedalo, playgrounds, statues, fountains, zoo is like groupon here in the states. register online and you'll find things to do and see in london 2 for 1, discounts on items. thanks to emma, a london poster on this forum is a blog she writes about london, scroll down and read recent posts on right side of page. look for any fun festivals while you are there.
wear comfy shoes, lots of walking, uneven streets, cobblestones, stop for fish and chips somewhere, if feet tired a cab is somewhere. we loved london, did a gin tour with chaffeur driven to 5 or 6 pubs, history & tasting the house's gin cocktail at each pub with leon. it was a fun experience since i'm a gin drinker.
hope this helps you do some research along with grandkids input.

Posted by
2658 posts

Windsor would be good to take them to. You would leave from London Paddington going to Windsor & Eton Central, it’s a 30 minute train ride. When you get to Windsor as you exit the train, turn to your left walk up to High Street and the castle is right across the street. You could tour the castle, walk to Windsor Great Park (5 minute walk). You could also walk to Eton which is about an 8 minute walk

Posted by
5 posts

You folks are so helpful. Our grandkids will be helping us with a plan for visits, now that we have some guideline. Thanks so much.

Posted by
119 posts

Give them each a pocket map of the underground, then they will work out how to get to places.

I think they'd like the London Eye, it's not a Ferris wheel, you're inside a large observation capsule on the outside of a cantilever wheel.

A ride on the Docklands Railway, try to get in the front seats or the rear, these are automatic trains, no driver and are mainly on elevated track. The postal museum includes a ride on the Mail Rail.

Docklands Museum, near Westferry DLR/Canary Wharf, this covers how the London docks and trade evolved from the 1500s.
The glass walkway top of Tower Bridge.
St James's Park to see the wild fowl and lakes.
Sky Garden.

I agree with Emma about JtR tours, when my nephew was 10 there was no way I would
consider suitable a tour about someone who eviscerated 19th century women, in any case the locations would be substantially changed or unrecognisable because of the London blitz and/or 1960s town planners.