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Hopefully something for everyone! Recommendations needed.

Hopefully something for everyone! Recommendations needed.

Old Mar 11th, 2013, 11:25 AM
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Hopefully something for everyone! Recommendations needed.

Family of four heading to London this Friday. Yes. A woman who normally would have had the i's dotted and the t's crossed basically has a flat rented in the Mayfair area and our flight booked. Suffice it to say, life has happened, and didn't allow for any planning. I have just spent a good portion of today going through posts and trip reports. It has been a while since I have been out here, but I am always grateful for all the wonderful information that fodorites share.

After reading all of these reports and creating my own file, I will need to digest and create an itinerary to get feedback from the experts. I do have a request; however, what day trip(s) would you say are musts? The we, DH is a self-imposed overworked architect who loves all things architecture, history, art and food; DD is coming from her first year of college at an art and design school as a fashion major, loves history, art, food, all things harry potter, and shopping; DS is a high school senior who has a bad case of senioritis, loves military history, will tolerate 15 minutes of art, will not tolerate any shopping, likes history in general, good food, harry potter fan and wifi so he can connect with his friends at night. Their interests cover mine (well I don't need to connect with my son's friends), but I do like gardens, I just don't know if this is a good time of year for them.

We arrive late Saturday morning, and leave the following Saturday, so basically 6 1/2 days in London. While my family would like to go to Stonehenge, I just don't know if it is really worth it. I would love to go somewhere for a day trip that would give us a different perspective from what we will have in the city. Any suggestions. I don't know if more than one day trip would work. My children are overall good travelers since they have been to so many places in the US, Rome, Berlin and Milan. They loved Rome. It's all about balance with the outdoors and museums/indoor activities.
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 11:36 AM
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Most people do Bath or Oxford, maybe Canterbury, but I'd suggest Brighton. The Pavilion is crazy, the Lanes are worth a wander, and it will give you a look at something a bit different from London.
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 11:44 AM
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Oxford--CSLewis, Tolkien, AND HP. Can bus there about as easy as train. Book a walk thru the TI for overview and/or see what special tours they might have available while you are there.

Dover--via train--for spectacular castle. And Cliffside walk if you have time and want.

Salisbury combined with Stonehenge is another great day trip.

These are my favorite 3, in that order.

In London--well, too much to suggest and put in any order for you, but here's my top 5:
the Tower, of course, takes half a day--be there at opening--then walk across the Tower Bridge and along the river--might see if want to go to Borough Market maybe this day--check for open times
the British Museum and the British Library--allow whatever time you want for this
Westminster Abbey--be there at opening--
then walk across the river and over to the Imperial War Museum
St. Paul's--climb the dome

Next time I have time (I'll be in London this June but won't have time) I am going to the Churchill War Rooms

There are of course all the art museums to add to your days.

Just remember it's a gi-normous city and it will take quite a while to get around. If you plan 2-3 sites per day, grouped fairly close together, you'll be able to see what you plan.

Greenwich as a half day at least is cool too.
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 11:46 AM
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I'd pick Bath by train. The architecture is interesting, there's a fashion museum, gardens. Don't know about satisfying your son. Maybe he'd like the Roman Baths. You can see hills in the countryside from central Bath.

However, the weather is not the greatest this time of year, and neither are the gardens yet. Bath offers enough indoor sights, Oxford even more. I wouldn't want to do Brighton unless you get a sunny day.
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 12:13 PM
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Are you willing to allow the kids to do some things on their own? Do they HAVE to do everything you do? I would not get too worked up about what to do and see...even a guidebook will give you some great ideas.

But for art and a mus
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 12:15 PM
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museum that might be off-beat for some, I recommend the Wallace Collection...small enough to be managed and some wonderful art.
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 12:45 PM
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With an architect and a fashion student in your party I would suggest that the Victoria and Albert Museum is a must see. It is situated right next door to the Natural History Museum and the two make a great twin visit. The Science Museum is also on Exhibition Road, just behind the Natural History Museum

The V&A is billed as the world's greatest museum of art and design.

Remember that entry to major museums in the UK is free.
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 01:12 PM
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For your DS, recommend the Churchill War Rooms, and all of you will be spellbound.

Hampton Court? Who could resist?
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 03:17 PM
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My goodness, thank you thursdaysd, texasbookworm, Mimar, Dukey1, Englishmaninfrance and rncheryl! You have all provided me with much to think about. I have my work cut out for me tonight. Fortunately, said overworked DH is out of town, DS is at rugby practice, and of course DD is at college, so I have a free evening to focus. I will be back to tomorrow with an itinerary. Again, thank you all.
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 05:23 PM
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With kids of college age who also are Harry Potter fans, and a husband into architecture and you all like history (and you gardens) - Oxford is definitely where you want to go. Very easy to get to. You take the "Oxford Tube" (http://www.oxfordtube.com/) - it's a bus - not to be confused with the London "Tube" which is the subway/metro. Be sure to walk out back behind the colleges - along the river, very bucolic. Lovely in March.

This is a good article on Harry Potter sites in London and Oxford. http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/desti...-locations.htm

Here are my photos of Oxford (in March) - http://www.pbase.com/annforcier/oxfo...ridge&page=all
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 05:37 PM
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I will be leaving WEDNESDAY for London with DD who is a senior in college - fashion major, DS 19 Beatles fan, niece - 19 and family friend - ALL Harry Potter fans. SOME HP places we are visiting are - Platform 9 3/4, Grimmual Place - few blocks away from Kings Cross - Boroughs Market there are two places from HP - Leadenhall Market.

have fun!!! we will be staying at a flat in Pimlico - leaving March 19 to come home!!
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 06:37 PM
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Just a quick endorsement of the Churchill War Rooms recommendation.

Also, the Imperial War Museum is currently closed for renovations.
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 07:52 PM
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I travel to London several times a month for work along with having two kids living over there so I may be bias to some things but here goes.
Make sure that you buy an Oyster Card for each of you to get around London on the tube and bus on a discounted fee-you can recharge them at any tube station and they are very worthwhile.
I would group certain"sites" together-

Churchill War Rooms which are wonderful(with a walk past 10 Downing Street and Big Ben) with a visit inside Westminster Cathedral(and all of the famous people buried there) will definitely make anyone into history have a great day.

Covent Garden is touristy but great fun with lots of restaurants , shops and the London Transport Museum which is celebrating 150 years of service this year.

The weather hasn't been great in the past couple weeks but I would definitely go up in the EYE for fantastic views and possibly the Thames River cruise down to Greenwich or at least halfway.

The British Museum is always a fav along with the special exhibits at the British Library. Try and get a WHERE magazine that are free at alot of hotels for what is going on this month. The Victoria and Albert Museum has a special starting this month on the treasures and artifacts of Pompeii for your history buffs.

I don't know if you can get to the library or bookstore in time but there is a wonderful book called
DAYTRIPS from London by E. Steinbacker(sp?). It has all of the cities within a day's journey from London and how you would get there,what to see and suggestions for hotel and restaurants. I have used this book with its revisions for over thirty years and definitely well worth getting for your trip.

Be aware that the train fares went up this past January so unless you have a pass the fares can sometimes be rather expensive for a daytrip unless you go off hours. Always try and get a family pass when traveling to save some money on fares.

If you are only doing one day trip-I would go to Stonehenge with Winchester and/or Salisbury because it is such a quaint town.Stonehenge has changed through the years I have visited with it being sectioned off and footpaths being put in,etc. but the stones are still amazing! Winchester is a cute Tudor and Roman town(with lots of history,king Arthur,etc.)It has a great cathedral,markets,cute restaurants and shopping cheaper than London,etc.

The trouble with Oxford is that is so congested as it is a college town with a main shopping area and then the various colleges spread out among the town. It is cute for the river when you have good weather but don't know at this time of the year if that would be worth it?

Plan on hitting Harrods for its food halls and how the other half lives along with the various stores on Oxford street.Notting Hill is always fun with its markets and eateries. Churchills Pub in Notting Hill is a combination oldest pub with a Thai restaurant attached and is very nice!

I would check out your guidebooks and have a Plan A and Plan B each day depending on weather and everyone's energy-you will never get tired of London. Have fun!
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 08:41 PM
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If I were doing only one day trip, it would be Bath for the architecture, Roman baths/ruins (a real 3* sight) and Abby, the costume museum and a free guided tour of the city for the history which is very interesting. Bath at times served almost as a second capital to London, both socially and politically. Take a long boat down the canal or hike the canal.
Stay overnight and take the short ride down to see Sallisbury Cathedral the next morning before heading back to London.. Any interest in the Jane Austen Connection?

Brighton would be exciting if you have a nice day.
Just thoughts:
The punting boats in Oxford if you go there.
A play at the Globe Theatre if you have an interest.
canal boat ride from Little Italy to Camden Market (if it is still there)
Tour Tower of London
Victoria and Albert Museum is great.
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Old Mar 12th, 2013, 04:43 AM
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My suggestion for your day trip would be the beautiful city of York.
Trains go regularly from Kings Cross, with the fastest taking an hour and three quarters. Once you are off the train you can be in the centre of the city in a few minutes.
Absolutely loads to see and do. Many people think York Minster is worth the journey alone. It's one of the most magnificent Cathedrals in the Western World.
You can 'walk the walls', go on a boat trip, visit museums including the excellent National Rail Museum or eat at Betty's which is a Yorkshire institution.
York is gorgeous and has 'the most photogenic street in the country', part of the Medieval Shambles.
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Old Mar 12th, 2013, 07:42 AM
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With a group of four you can take advantage of the 2-for-1 tickets. As I understand it, if you buy a Travelcard in a train station (for travel within greater London), you can get 2-for-1 tickets into various sights, like the Tower, the Eye, and Hampton Court Palace. Here are all the details: http://www.londontoolkit.com/whattod...ard_2for1.html. You must go to the website, print the 2-for-1 offers and present them with your Travelcard at the entrance. I understand you now need a passport-sized photo for the card.

London transport is so complicated: Oyster cards, Travelcards, the tube, the zones, buses, the DLR.
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Old Mar 12th, 2013, 08:37 AM
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So everyone gets to do what they want you might want to break up into pairs for a couple of days - boys doing one thing and girls another.'I think girls really need to see the V&A - boys not - let them do something military.

One thing I would reco for all is a day at Hampton court Palace - with the trip one way by boat if possible.
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Old Mar 12th, 2013, 09:20 AM
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Just now in southeast England there is snow and really unusual cold, and it's predicted to continue for at least the next few days; I'm planning a trip March 23, and normally I'd be packing a raincoat, but I'm thinking a parka might be needed! The daffodils are several weeks behind their usual time. I'd assume that gardens are not going to be very interesting this trip. I'd stick to places like Bath and Oxford that are relatively weather-independent.

(Not day trips, but I second the recommendation for the Victoria and Albert: your son will like the armor displays, your daughter will love the costume collection, and everyone will enjoy the historical displays. I have not yet been to the Sir John Soane museum, but I hope to make it this trip: it belonged to an architect with an amazing collection of art, architectural models, and everything else he liked.)
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Old Mar 12th, 2013, 10:02 AM
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Punting in Oxford . No don't do it, far too cold and the punts should not be there.
I'd recommend Salisbury for the Cathedral alone, easily the prettiest one in the country, but don't approach it from the town, go south and walk up through the water meadows if not too cold and wet.

Wallace collection is a good recommendation and the surf tower of london on this site if you have never been.
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Old Mar 12th, 2013, 03:17 PM
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Punting in Oxford and a play at the Globe are no go's . . . This is March and those are late Spring/summer things. And even a canal boat in London won't be much fun this time of year.

The suggestions to split up some and do what interests individuals is a good idea.
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