12 days England/Scotland with kids

Any advice on what to see or not to bother with? We will spend three nights in London then another 9 days between either england or scotland. Popular advice has been to skip the car in favor of a britrail pass. We depart from edinburgh but are happy to go further north in scotland as well. we are just having a very hard time narrowing down where we should spend our time with so many wonderful choices. Help! Thanks.
P.S. my kids, both girls, will be 5 and 6 when we travel.

Posted by Marcella
Hendersonville, TN
91 posts

Meg,
I am sure you will have a great time. If you can tell us how old the kids are that will help. I'll give my tips based on traveling with a preschooler and a middle schooler.

London -
Tower of London
British Museum - mummies are populare with boys!
Natural History Museum
Princess Di Playground at Kensington Gardens

If you are taking the train you may want to stop in York for a couple of nights (don't really need more than 2).

Viking Museum
Ghost Tour
Walk the wall

I would spend no less than 3-4 nights in Edinburgh. Too much moving around and you will be exhausted and may not remember much.

There is really a lot to research and a map of Great Britain will help. You can download a rail map from the Britrail website to see where the trains go.

Then start Googling away. Check out the websites for each city you may want to visit. You may also want to check out other travel forums like Fodors. Their sites have much better destination information. Once you have done some more research come back here and the wonderful folks on this board will help you sort it all out.

Posted by Tonya
The Hill Country of Texas
39 posts

I suggest staying for a day or two in Bath, it's an hour and a half by train from London. It's a good place to take a day trip to Stonehenge from. You can usually reserve a day tour there for the following day at the tourist office right by the Abbey. I like the Mad Max tour myself. http://www.madmax.abel.co.uk/ So much, I've been on it twice. Small group too.

The Roman Baths are pretty cool IMHO. I don't know if they'd be old enough to appreciate all this though.

I give a thumbs up to the britrail pass (don't forget they have a family pass, one child travels free with each adult pass). We used the pass when we went in 2007 and they're excellent.

In London, you should definitely go to the British Museum and the Tower of London. Any kid would like that I would think.

Posted by Darryl
Wheaton, IL
52 posts

Just two suggestions Meg...my children were roughly the same age as yours when we took them to London and Scotland. In London, the London Eye is a giant ferris-wheel type thing that is has closed glass-sided pods. It is located on the bank of the Thames opposite Big Ben and my kids loved it. They can stand up and walk around and see all of London. It really helps orient you, too. It travels very slowly, so it's not frightening. Like I said, my kids loved it, and right next door (in the same complex actually) is a game room and a children's museum.

If your little girls like penguins, the Edinburgh zoo has a great collection, and every day at 1 pm, the Penguin Parade lets some of these interesting chaps make the trip from one end of the zoo to the other...through the crowd! It's cool.

Have fun!

Posted by Helen
Vancouver, BC, Canada
21 posts

I took my daughter to England last July for two weeks and this is what she (7 yrs old) enjoyed.

Edinburgh: Edinburgh Castle - started our day below in the Princes Street gardens at the west end where there is a really fun playground. We then walked all the way up this winding path that ran along the base of the castle to the entrance itself. My daughter loved seeing the Crown Jewels of Scotland. We spent about three hours at the castle including a kid friendly lunch (mac & cheese). We then walked all the way down the Royal Mile to the Palace of Holyrood House which was open because the Queen was away. This palace has some really interesting features including the tower where Mary Queen of Scots lived. My daughter loved seeing her little bed! Following this we found ice cream and called it a day. We only spent one full day in Edinburgh but there is so much else to see.

We really enjoyed a day trip to Bath including the Roman Baths (about 90 minutes)& a City Bus Tour (hop on hop off). We discovered a great playground on the bus route (good for an hour while I sat in the sun).

Day trip to Hampton Court Palace was fun. Beautiful gardens, great rooms (the ceilings are breathtaking) and a fun maze.

Our time in London was amazing. Riding on the top deck of the red double deckers was great fun. The British Museum was actually quite interesting for her. So was the National Gallery (about 90 minutes each). The Museum of Natural History was great (2 hours plus we returned) but the Science Museum less so (we have a Science Centre at home). We also walked and walked but were never tired.

We skipped the Tower of London (too scary) but took the elevators up to the top of Tower Bridge and walked across. Skipped the Eye (too slow).

Enjoyed the playgrounds in the great parks. Diana Memorial Garden was great for an hour.

Kept energy levels up with icecream, biscuits, fresh fruit and deli items from Sainsbury's and Tesco's.

Have fun!

Posted by Jill
Austin, TX, USA
532 posts

Meg, If you make it to Edinburgh make sure to take your kids to the museum of childhood. It's on the Royal Mile on the down side of the main drag. Rick mentions it in the GB book. It's a 4 story museum of toys. We found it really fascinating, and it was free. A few of the toy displays are interactive, and they have an entire floor of dolls. Your girls will love it.

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1520 posts

Those of us with older children know that kids this age will not remember a whole lot of this trip. Sorry, but it's true. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. To make those memories a little more vivid, you might consider not moving around a lot. Stay several days in Edinburgh, York for a few days, then London. (They might remember the train ride the most.)

Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh are at the base of the Castle, and it's really cool to look up at it. If the heather is in bloom, go into the highlands so they can see purple hills. Let them try a different treat-cookies, candy, or ice cream, every day. That's what's important at that age! See the memorial to Greyfriar's Bobby. Find the book before you go and read it to them. Also read Robert Louis Stevenson's "A Child's Garden of Verses" because he's from Edinburgh. I think the Museum of Childhood has something to do with him? Just walking the streets in the Old Town is cool because there are little alleys called closes that you can explore, and each one has a name.

In London, my teen girls loved the markets in Borough Market. Lots of food and flowers. The Eye was cool. The maze at Hampton Court was big enough to be cool but not scary.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3313 posts

In Edinburgh you might want to check out Dynamic Earth. I would look for castles with lots of gardens to run around in. You'll want to watch them carefully as there are not as many fences and barriers as there are in the US. Of course if you go up to Inverness there is all the lovely Loch Ness Monster things. Check out this website. http://www.travelforkids.com/Funtodo/Scotland/scotland.htm It has info on things to do with kids in Scotland. Here's another site. http://families.visitscotland.com/infoPage/things-to-do-more-info/. And look at this one. http://www.ivillage.co.uk/parenting/school/schfun/articles/0,,186624_501064,00.html

I hope you have a wonderful trip.

Pam

Posted by John
Whitesboro, NY, USA
115 posts

Shows in London are usually less expensive than Broadway and some are approipriate for children.