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London with Kids - Itinerary Feedback/Suggestions

My wife and I are traveling to London Aug 17-24 with our two daughters, ages 6 & 10. Wife & I have both been to London before, kids have not. I tried to plan just one sight/activity for the morning and one for the afternoon, so we can take our time and/or make detours if we see other things that interest us. My kids are "stop and smell the roses" types so trying to keep it somewhat loose.

Day 1, Sat:
Arrive Heathrow at 7:00am. Tube to hotel near King's Cross & drop off bags.
Check out Granary Square/Coal Drops Yard, then walk along Regent's Canal to Camden Market. (I'm not married to this plan for our arrival day, it just seemed like a nice way to keep us outside and moving to get over the jet lag.)

Day 2, Sun:
10:00 "Hello London" walk with London Walks. (Or do it ourselves if we don't make it in time.)
Lunch near Trafalgar Square (any suggestions?)
Thames Cruise to Greenwich
Possibly see Cutty Sark if kids are interested

Day 3, Mon:
Tower of London
Lunch at Leadenhall Market
Museum of London

Day 4, Tues:
Buckingham Palace State Rooms (& maybe add Royal Mews if kids are interested)
Lunch (again, any suggestions?)
Princess Diana playground
Science Museum

Day 5, Wed (need suggestions for the morning of this day):
???
2:30pm British Museum tour with London Walks
7:30pm performance of School of Rock

Our last two days are already set.
Thurs - Check out of hotel, train to Windsor, check into hotel there. Windsor Castle in afternoon.
Fri - Legoland
Sat - Fly home

Any suggestions/feedback welcome, especially ideas for the Wed morning. I'm also not sure about going to Greenwich just for the afternoon. We're mainly in it for the boat cruise, not specifically for any of the attractions in Greenwich. Is this worth it, or should we just do a roundtrip boat between Westminster & Tower piers?

Posted by
93 posts

Looks like some fun activities! My kids enjoyed some of those same activities you mentioned and here are a few more places they enjoyed (ages 6, 8, 11):
-London Eye
-Princess Diana playground, but even better they liked the memorial fountain in Hyde Park (it was such a hot day!)
-LEGO store & M&M store in Leicester Square
-Hamley’s giant toy store
-Piccadilly Circus - there were really fun street performers when we were there
-riding in the front seat on the top section of a regular London double decker bus.
-Hampton Court Palace- lots of fun hands-on activities and great kid-friendly gardens and grounds
-Natural History Museum
-walking along the South Bank of the Thames - lots of fun action
-St James Park - they loved the playground there
-souvenir shopping- we found an enormous store (2 floors) near Piccadilly Circus. They liked picking out inexpensive souvenirs for friends back home.

Have fun! We can’t wait to return!

Posted by
327 posts

The London Transport Museum at Covent Garden might be an idea.

And don't forget to have a look at the Elfin Tree near the Princess Diana Playground.

Posted by
156 posts

Walking toward Victoria Station from Buckingham Palace is a Shake Shack.

For Wednesday, if you’re staying in King’s Cross, the British Library is over that way. Easy thing to do after breakfast for half a morning.

You could also visit Platform 9 3/4 but it’s WAY overblown frankly. Depends on if the kids are Harry Potter fans yet.

Posted by
6272 posts

Cafe in the Crypt at St Martins in The Fields right next to Trafalgar Square for lunch OR walk into Covent Garden, there’s a Nandos, or Wagamama, or Dishoom or TGI Friday’s.

Day 4 Pappa Roma Pizzeria is by the Science Museum or Urban Meadow Cafe on Bayswater is near the Diana Memorial Playground

Posted by
34 posts

@bugsycar, thank you for all the suggestions of things your kids enjoyed. I've been to London a few times but never with kids, so that's really helpful.

I asked for advice on TripAdvisor as well, and several people there said it's not really worth taking the boat all the way to Greenwich if we aren't going to spend the day there. I'm not sure we're interested in all the attractions in Greenwich so I need to do some more looking at that. If we decide not to do Greenwich, we'll do a Thames cruise just from Westminster to Tower Pier. Then maybe spend some time on the South Bank, since I realized we don't have any time planned there. If we do want to go to Greenwich, I may switch that to Wednesday and plan to spend most of the day there, just heading back for dinner and the show in the evening.

@Kevin, my kids aren't really Harry Potter fans. We may check out the store and Platform 9&3/4 since we'll be right near King's Cross, but it's not a priority and we probably wouldn't stand in a long line for it.

Posted by
5 posts

I took my boys, 10 & 12, in April. We really enjoyed cutty sark -- it is geared to kids, with lots of interactives. We used oyster card to take the boat -- was nice, but I wouldn't plan a big deal around it.

I heard mixed things about legoland (and we visited the one in Florida). We LOVED the harry potter studios -- one of the highlights of the trip, though I recognize with transportation, that is a big commitment.

We also enjoyed victoria and albert (for about an hour) -- appeals to many different interests.

You might also think about an outing to a classic british tea.

Have a great time!

Posted by
4660 posts

I’ve taken the British Museum Tour with London Walks. While I thought it was very good, I think a 6 and 10 year old would be very bored.

The British Museum has various ”activity trails” and ”activity backpacks” for kids. While I have no personal experience with this, I’ve seen kids in the museum that appeared to be taking part in these activities and they seemed to be enjoying themselves. You might see if this would be of interest

https://www.britishmuseum.org/visiting/family_visits/gallery_backpacks.aspx

https://www.britishmuseum.org/visiting/family_visits/activity_trails.aspx

Posted by
34 posts

@Laura, thanks for the info on the British Museum tour. We're mainly interested in the Egyptian artifacts so we could try that activity trail. Should keep me from getting us lost inside the museum, lol.

Posted by
34 posts

@emma, I appreciate the warning. I'm aware things will be busy due to it being school holidays, but our summer break is also July & August so we have to just make the best of it. At least we live in NYC so my kids are used to being in crowded places sometimes. And I'm open to scrapping a plan and doing something else if we get somewhere and the line is too long or its too busy to enjoy it.

Are there any less popular museums or sights you'd recommend as back up plans?

Posted by
244 posts

You are staying near Kings Cross railway station? You absolutely have to do this with your kids:

Platform 9 ¾.

When we visited many years ago with my young children (about the same age as yours)

We walked into Kings Cross and my kids were asking me "why are you taking us here?"

I said to them, "This is King's Cross station. What famous book that you have read starts at Kings Cross Railway station to get to their school?"

Of course my kids knew the book: "Harry Potter!" they said.

And then I said " and what train platform do they leave from?"
Platform 9 ¾ they said

OK, lets go find it.

"But Dad, it's fictional. It doesn't exist!" they insisted.

"I dare you to go up to that conductor and ask him where. Platform 9 ¾ is. I'll buy you an ice cream if you do it."

"He's going to laugh at me and think I'm crazy," the oldest one said. But she did it for the ice cream. "Excuse me sir, where is platform 9 ¾?"

"Over there, between platform 9 and 10" he said in all seriousness and then pointed.

we walked there and you and your kids should too......

Posted by
244 posts

Emma
I'm disappointed to hear that. When we went many years ago, there was no HP store and there was no waiting line to see it.
The expression on my kid's faces when they saw it in disbelief is one of my most cherished memories. Too bad

Well in that case, my kids also like playing in the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park.

At the royal observatory in Greenwich, they enjoyed getting their pictures taken straddling the Prime meridian. (I guess your kids would have to know what that is to enjoy it.)

And they enjoyed attending the Musical Spamalot. Is that still playing in London somewhere?

Enjoy your trip

Posted by
32 posts

The London Zoo is a short-ish taxi ride away from the British Museum. We spent a day in London doing this route, and it was an amazing day, with our 7 year old:

1- Start at Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station when it opens (line wasn't bad at all first thing)
2- London Zoo (walked from Kings Cross, it was about 30-40 minutes, we like walking, could have taken the Tube to get closer)
3- Lunch at Zoo
4- British Museum (took a taxi to get there)

Second the advice about the kids' backpacks at the museum, they are fun! The Roman one has a toga they can wear!

Also seconding lunch in the crypt at St Martin in the Fields in Trafalgar. I thought it would be crowded because it's recommended in Rick Steves' books, but it was not super crowded when we went at lunch, food is good, and how often can you have lunch in a crypt.

Posted by
20 posts

I would add to the recommendations for Hamley's. We took my kids last time (ages 6&7) we were in London and they are itching to get back on our next trip this fall. Really fun for kids young and old. That would be a good place to spend Wednesday morning before the British Museum.

Posted by
266 posts

If the girls are Girl Scouts, then the World Centre there in Hampstead can be a great place to connect, attend events, and take tours with them. At least you'll have very helpful friends there
https://www.wagggs.org/en/our-world/world-centres/pax-lodge/
and it's a safe place to stay, all are welcome there, even if you're not GS members, still a good option.

If you're staying near King's Cross and doing the platform 9 3/4 thing, just a couple of buildings over is the British Library with their Treasure Room, huge room with impressive displays but also with many benches for tired kids and parents, and all in the same room that makes watching kids easy.

The St Pancras Hotel is in between, it's gorgeous, and offers affordable lunch option (and the pub across the street from British Library had been really good too) as well as fancy tea times too.

If you're going to be in the huge Hyde Park to see the Princess Diana memorial, you may want to take a walk over to the Peter Pan statue too.

There are two different train stations in Windsor, so be careful to leave from the correct London station to be able to arrive in the correct Windsor station. I learned that from doing it wrong in 2015. sigh. Windsor Castle also is doing some changing of the guards too, so you may want to find out about that and consider being there in the mornings. I also overheard someone being told later in the afternoon that they could not go in after 3pm because they had bought their ticket from some other vendor. So you may want to be sure that it you're using a London pass or something, and not buying from Windsor's web site, that you're arriving early enough if you do go in the afternoon. Definitely do not miss the dollhouse :)

I've had some bad tourist lunch times near Trafalgar Square, but got lucky on a back street in April at the Sherlock Holmes pub 10 Northumberland St, Charing Cross, London WC2N 5DB. Good burgers, fries, gives away little British flags to customers. It's a stone's throw away from Ben Franklin's House, out their back door practically (and the waitress I asked knew nothing about it). The Ben Franklin house is closed on Tuesdays, I learned that the hard way too :( So that could be a good option.

Have fun!
-Alison

Posted by
158 posts

If you are going to be in Hyde Park, they have fun little boats on the Serpentine you can rent that are powered by foot pedals. We had fun on those for a half an hour. Except my girls kept arguing about who got to pedal the boat!