4 days in London for marathon with 9 year old!

I will be traveling to London with my nine-year-old daughter for the marathon next month. Unfortunately, my husband has to work and is not able to come along, so I am going to be the lone parent. We are flying out on a red-eye from Chicago and arriving Thursday morning. We have Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The marathon is Sunday and will take up most of the day (I'm not going for a personal record and plan to enjoy the race at a jog). My daughter will be with a sitter during the marathon, but the sitter will have her out to see the race and possibly sites. I plan on needing the evening post-race to recover! We fly home on Monday morning. Questions: What are reasonable must-see attractions with a nine-year-old in this 3-day time span? She is a bright, well-behaved girl in good physical shape, so we plan to do a lot of walking and take in museums (which ones?). Has anyone been to London during marathon week and how does that impact crowding, sites, public transport, etc.? And, need the best tips on combating jet-lag for kids/moms. Thanks!

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2899 posts

I've been in London twice during the marathon and except for the crowds along the route and some congestion at tube stations near the route, there is little difference between marathon day and a normal day. London is crowded all the time. I don't have kids, but I would think that kids would like the London Eye, a Thames boat ride, and the Tower of London. If the weather is bad, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum have some great exhibits for children.

Posted by Tom
Suffolk, UK (formerly St. Louis, MO, USA)
166 posts

Jenni - London is crowded all the time, so other than the marathon route, it wont be too much different than normal. Sites - in addition to what was mentioned above, the London Transport museum might also be a hit, as well as watching some of the street performers in Covent Garden. Also, check out whats on at theaters in London. Live theater in London is fantastic. Since you plan on doing some walking, check out the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. You could also spend days in the the British Museum. Jet lag - I've done the flight you are taking before. It wont be too bad. While everybody is different, what I liked to do was go from the airport to the hotel. You usually cannot check in until 1400 or so, but you can leave your bags with the concierge. Once you do that, explore the town until check-in time. Once checked in, I'd shower and have a SHORT nap (no more than a couple hours), then get up and power through until about 9pm. Always seems to work for me. Enjoy London - its a great town!

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

We too have been in London during Marathon Week and it did not feel any more crowded than usual. It is a beautiful,time to be there, with the daffodils in the parks in full bloom. We like to combat jet lag with a long walk in the sunshine on our arrival day, after checking in to our hotel. Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens would be nice for that- look for the statue of Peter Pan which your daughter will enjoy. Another walk we like is across Westminster Bridge for views of Big Ben and the Parlaiment buildings, then along the Thames south bank past the London Eye to the Millenium Bridge to cross back. For museums, our daughters enjoyed the Tate Modern for modern ( and quirky) art, the British Museum for ancient Egyptian and Greek art and sculptures, and the Natural History museum for the dinosaurs. Remember that most museums are free so you can pop in for a look,mot see if it is interesting, without making a $$ commitment. We prefer the Changing of the Guard at the Horse Guards Parade over the crowded ( and impossible to see for short people) spectacle at Buckingham Palace. If you wish to see the Tower of London, I suggest you buy tickets in advance, or plan to arrive before they open and standing the queue. For dinner try Wagamama for fast and tasty pan- Asian food.

Posted by Jenni
Wausau, Wisconsin, United States
2 posts

Helpful information! Thank you for responding. If you think of anythings else, please post!