Lets start with the Sites of London…
Most of these come with a price tag but it is possible to buy combination tickets and there are usually special group offers – funnily enough we usually can be categorized as some sort of group!!! Otherwise use your friend Google here again to prepare and plan.
A good first site is the London Eye. You really can see forever and it is a great way to orientate yourself with the city. We got there at opening time and went straight on into our own capsule.
The Tower of London is brilliant and well worth the entrance fee – forget about the treasure, while it is impressive it is a quick sweep through… its the history – real live history that you tour through… really fun and totally kid friendly (don’t forget your crayons and paper for rubbings).
This outing crosses the full board of activities: places to be quiet and look,, places to fiddle and discover, armor to try on, places to run, people dressed in costume… to this day my kids are convinced they have met Guy Fawkes in the flesh, if you don’t mind. They also have great printable family tours to help you find your way round.
And for our kids who had never seen a real live zoo, well London Zoo was a morning well spent… We got there at the opening and gather yourself, pack snacks as you will need lots of mini breaks and rewards for tired little legs… there is lots and lots to see. Some of the animals are presented better than others but there sure is a lot going on there! There website is great for visitor information and getting to know what animals you are going to see in advance. The penguins were lovely and the monkey-walk-through was great. We even found a little wild lion roaring around (hood #4 before his haircut!):
Now a day well spent was a trip down The River Thames, by ferry to Greenwich, looking at all the sites of London along the way – where there is so much to see… Firstly we went aboard the Cutty Sark, the world’s last tea clipper, which was lovely but is closed at the moment for repair…. but should you be going in the future hang on to this idea. Fabulous to clamber about on a real live vessel and they had crafts to join on while you were looking. All my guys made figureheads, which were carefully carried all the way home on the plane. My one regret is that we didn’t buy a ship’s rat, they were so cute!
And if you are spending the day in Greenwich (there are great printable trails at that link), well you have to stop for lunch in the beautiful park and head up the hill to the Royal Observatory. Your kids will surely get a kick out of standing in both the Eastern and Western Hemisphere at the same time. You can print a certificate that you were there, just next to the meridian. And you can explore the Observatory for free where there are plenty of people demonstrating amazing astronomical things.
Really, you can’t visit London without walking the streets and they are indeed a wonderful site! So this is the walk we took… We started with a snack in Trafalger Square and look around in St.Martin in Fields – got to see all sorts of interesting things… then we wandered through Leicester Square with all the statues, Soho and all the interesting China Town stuff and finally Covent Garden with all the most amazing street performers – it was brilliant, there was so much to look at that their eyes literally fell out of their heads! And we saw our first real live merry-go-round.
This probably isn’t seen as an official site, but when I asked my kids where they would most want to return to they all said Hamleys !!! You have to laugh, we never bought anything there – we hinted that this was a museum and so “just to look”. Se7en stories of toys, yup that’s seven whole floors of toys, not the best toys but a real eye opener to the current world view on what children need!!! Lots of lovely things to fiddle with and touch and poke… :
Basement: Interactive – Lego and gadgets
Ground floor: Soft toys
1st floor: Games
2nd floor: Preschool
3rd floor: Girls
4th floor: Hobbies
5th floor: Boys
Now if you really want to shop, without falling off the budget bus, all the museums have great shops with lovely things in them and they all have tables filled with pocket money items really nice and great for gifts for all the short friends waiting back home… There were other shops we popped into: The Disney Store, Baby Gap, Nike Town and ELC all of them were fun to look around and nothing like we have at home.
So those are the Sites we saw… lets talk about Museums next time.