London in April w/Kids

Old Jan 10th, 2019, 11:09 AM
  #1  
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London in April w/Kids

Hi All,

I'm traveling to London and Paris with my husband and 3 young children (7, 5, and 1) in April, and am looking for some feedback regarding the London portion of our trip. We fly into LCY on 4/12 at 9 AM and will depart for Paris on the Eurostar the morning of 4/18. We're staying in Paddington at the Hilton London Metropole.

I'm going into this trip with relatively low expectations, honestly. My kids are good travelers, they like experiencing new things, history, and are great at museums, but we've never had to deal with major jet lag, so I'm approaching this with the attitude that we're going to accommodate their needs and interests, and hopefully have some fun experiences along the way. Additionally, my husband and I are not opposed to each taking kids on our own to accommodate interests, naptimes, and general grumpiness.

All that to say, I've sketched out a really rough list of things we'd like to do, and am looking for some feedback. I've grouped things together based on proximity, but know that we may not accomplish everything.

Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens (thinking this would be a good arrival day activity to keep everyone awake and active)

Trafalgar Square/National Gallery
Walk past Houses of Parliament
London Eye (is this worth it?)
Westminster Abbey

Tower of London/Tower Bridge
St. Paul's Cathedral

Day trip to Windsor

British Museum
Coram's Fields

Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
Hamley'sLondon Transport Museum

Science Museum
Natural History museum
V&A

My oldest likes Harry Potter (not enough to do the studio tour), so I'm going to try to fit in Leadenhall Market, and we'll point out platform 9 3/4s at King's Cross.

My husband is a huge Liverpool FC fan, and while the idea of attending a match is definitely appealing, they play Chelsea while we're there, so there is zero chance of getting tickets. Can anyone recommend an LFC supporters' pub, or really any fun place for him to watch the match? We've talked about taking a day trip to Liverpool to do a stadium tour, but he's also expressed interest in attending a lower division match (of any club), so suggestions in that area would also be much appreciated.

Sorry for the long post, but thanks in advance for your suggestions!



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Old Jan 10th, 2019, 11:26 AM
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>>We're staying in Paddington at the Hilton London Metropole.<<

Prebooked - non-refundable? If not, I'd maybe look for something a bit more central. That hotel is not at all that convenient for LCY, though OK for St Pancras.

Dashing out so more later but some quick thoughts:

You may not have time for a day trip but if you do -- IMO/IME Hampton Court Palace would be better than Windsor.

I would NOT attempt the changing of the Guard. It will eat up an entire morning and the poor kids will have to stand there not moving really - the whole time.

With kids that age my 'musts' would include the Tower of London, Natural History Museum, a small does of the British Museum - especially the mummies, London Transport Museum, a boat ride (maybe from the Tower to Westminster pier), the Princess Diana playground in Kensington Gardens, and Hampton Court. That could be a tall order to fit them all in with less than 5.5 full days.

I like the Eye - been several times. Some don't. I'd play that by ear on the day.
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Old Jan 10th, 2019, 11:40 AM
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Unfortunately, yes, the hotel is non-refundable. I realized after we booked how much of a pain it will be to get from the airport to the hotel.
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Old Jan 10th, 2019, 11:51 AM
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Concur that the changing of the guards might be super boring for young kids. As for London Eye, I'd say that it may or may not be worth it for adults, but kids might get a kick out of the bird's eye view.
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Old Jan 10th, 2019, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Danielle811 View Post
Unfortunately, yes, the hotel is non-refundable. I realized after we booked how much of a pain it will be to get from the airport to the hotel.
Then I would 100% pre-book a car service like justairports.com. Otherwise it will be a total slog w/ 3 children and luggage. It would be the DLR from LCY to the Jubilee line, then the Bakerloo line, then a 6-10 minute walk. A car service won't be faster but will be a heck of a LOT easier.

Now I really am out of here . . .

more later
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Old Jan 10th, 2019, 02:32 PM
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On our way out of our last trip to London, I saw a short film of the Museum of London that made me sorry that I had not been there. I would go, and I would take kids, based on what we saw on television.
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Old Jan 10th, 2019, 03:41 PM
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The Museum of London is an excellent place for kids to visit,
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Old Jan 10th, 2019, 03:45 PM
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If you visit St Paul's - the Museum of London is a good two-fer since they are walking distance from each other.
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Old Jan 10th, 2019, 04:32 PM
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Adding the Museum of London to the list, thanks! It wasn't even on my radar. Also will be taking the changing of the guard into consideration. I've seen it a couple times, so missing it is definitely not a sacrifice for the grown ups.

Regarding Hampton Court Palace vs Windsor, is HCP more appealing to kids, an easier trip, both? We would like to do a day out of London, but aren't committed to any particular destination. I had earmarked Windsor because the boys (5 and 7) watched the 2018 royal weddings with me and had seen parts of it on TV.

Last edited by Danielle811; Jan 10th, 2019 at 04:45 PM.
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Old Jan 10th, 2019, 04:40 PM
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They are both easy trips, the kids might enjoy the Magic Garden at Hampton Court Palace, it should reopen in March but double check that. Also kids might enjoy Bushy Park which is very close by, it’s full of deer roaming around.
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Old Jan 10th, 2019, 04:59 PM
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HCP is better fir kids. Just the tudor kitchens alone make it worrh the trip. Padfington is more convenient for getting to windsor, but other than that, HCP would be more fum.
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Old Jan 10th, 2019, 11:03 PM
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Make Hampton Court Palace number 1.
Rather than plan for a specific day for each thing, plan days, but then play the days by ear, and go to Hampton Court on a pretty day. Have a stroller or backpack carrier for the baby.

There are some good children's books with stories about the Tower of London, the beefeaters, etc.
They will enjoy Regent's park and perhaps a boat trip, on the Regent's canal.

Have your kids read the Paddington books or the Madeline stories? If so, buy them each a bear or a doll in London, first thing, and let them take pictures of the doll or bear in different places. There are some wonderful cameras (not cheap) for children. If they do not have some, get each of them one for this trip. I know it is extra stuff to tote around, but they are seriously great to keep them interested in, and interacting with, what they are seeing. My daughter's Paddington Bear is well over 40 years old and flat, but still treasured.
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Old Jan 11th, 2019, 06:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Sassafrass View Post
Have your kids read the Paddington books or the Madeline stories? If so, buy them each a bear or a doll in London, first thing, and let them take pictures of the doll or bear in different places.
I LOVE this idea, especially for my youngest, as she won't have any personal memories of this trip. My older two have liked the Paddington movies, but I think a trip to the library may be in order!

In regards to other kids' books, my 7 year old has "What was the Tower of London," and I believe there is one about Henry VIII from the same series. We're also reading one together called "Off with Their Heads: All the Cool Bits in British History," and my 5 year old loves the Dodsworth books. Are there other fun books or series for elementary aged kids that we could use for background for either London or Paris?

I think we've agreed to swap Windsor for Hampton Court Palace. By adding that, I think we'll wind up purchasing a family membership for the Historic Royal Palaces, which, if I'm understanding it correctly, includes admission to the Tower of London, Kensington Palace, as well as a few others. I may add Kensington Palace to my own personal itinerary, since it's included in the membership.

Thanks so much everyone, this is so helpful. I'm open to more suggestions!
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Old Jan 11th, 2019, 07:05 AM
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Just my compliments to the OP. Danielle811, I commend you for asking for and then actually hearing the suggestions. Good on you. Have a marvelous time.
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Old Jan 11th, 2019, 08:37 AM
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Re Kensington Palace -- it would be a bit of a bore for the kids but would be a great opportunity for your husband to take the kids to the nearby Princess Diana playground (it is brilliant and the ages of your kids is right in the wheelhouse) while you tour the Palace and see all the gowns and such. Then afterwards have an casual afternoon tea in the Orangerie.
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Old Jan 11th, 2019, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by tuscanlifeedit View Post
Just my compliments to the OP. Danielle811, I commend you for asking for and then actually hearing the suggestions. Good on you. Have a marvelous time.
That's very kind of you, tuscanlifeedit. I really do appreciate all the feedback from everyone!
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Old Jan 11th, 2019, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Re Kensington Palace -- it would be a bit of a bore for the kids but would be a great opportunity for your husband to take the kids to the nearby Princess Diana playground (it is brilliant and the ages of your kids is right in the wheelhouse) while you tour the Palace and see all the gowns and such. Then afterwards have an casual afternoon tea in the Orangerie.
That was my thought as well. I'm sure they (kids and husband) wouldn't be too upset to have time to run around. I'm disappointed that I'll miss the Diana exhibit though, as it closes in February.
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Old Jan 11th, 2019, 11:58 AM
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Rather than Changing of the Guards, just make a stop by Horseguards Parade/Household Cavalry on Whitehall to see soldiers in the crazy bearskin hats plus horses. They’re there all the time (you’ll see the crowds with selfie sticks) so you wouldn’t have to stand around waiting for something to happen.
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