We'll be in London in May for 6 nights before taking the Eurostar to Paris with our two girls, 9 and 12. I know it's not long enough (it's never enough), but we know we will return. So we're focusing on the things the kids will be most drawn to. We've tried not to jam in too much. It's the girls' first time to London and my second. We're staying in an apartment near Gloucester Road Tube station.
Here's a list of what we think are our "must sees", followed by some other possibilities, and a list of the things we probably won't get to. Am I missing anything? Would you do something different? Any other suggestions?
Our "Must Sees"
--Natural History Museum... close to our apartment and probably one of the first places we visit after we get settled into the apartment.
--British Museum... we'll go here at least once, though possibly break it into 2 shorter visits (not to mention it's open late on friday nights). My 12 year old is learning all about Egypt in school... she's like the Teddy Ruxpin of Egypt facts these days... so this is a must see.
--London Eye...not sure what lines are like these days, but the kids want to do this. Should I splurge for the advance tickets that let you ride whenever you want (i.e. no line)... or just take my chances?
--Harry Potter Studio tour... absolutely not going to miss this. If we get a 10 am tour, we should be able to get back into London by early afternoon afternoon.
--Tower of London... we'll get there early.
--Walking through Hyde Park, Kensington Park, Green Park, St James Park
--Walk by Buckingham Palace... but we'll probably just walk by the Palace and not wait for hours in the crowd for a spot to watch the changing of the guards ceremony. Or, we might go to the Horse Guards ceremony if we're in the neighborhood.
--Walk through Harrods (food halls, toy dept, etc) OR Fortnum & Mason food halls OR Hamley's... depending on where we are any given day
Will probably do
--Hop on Hop off bus... I see lots of pros and cons online re: the HOHO bus, but generally feel like it could be a good thing for day 2 if jetlag sets in, and a great way to get an overview of the city and drive by some of the most notable London landmarks (Big Ben, Parliament, St Paul's, Trafalgar Square, etc) that we might not otherwise seek out on foot in such a short visit. And both of the big HOHO bus companies include a Thames tour, which would be nice to do once. But we're going to leave this up in the air until we're there and see how we feel, but I'm leaning towards doing this.
Other possibilities, still deciding
--Kensington Palace OR Hampton Court Palace... I was all set to put Kensington Palace on my must see list. (I especially thought the girls might enjoy the gown exhibit... but the reviews are quite underwhelming.) Even though we're only in London for 5 days, we are now wondering whether we should include a half day trip out to HCP. The girls *love* palaces and loved the Loire Valley chateaux... so this might be a lot of fun. And even if we skip HCP, we may still skip Kensington Palace.
--Evensong (St Paul's or Westminster Abbey). One of my favorite experiences on my last trip was listening to the glorious choral Evensong at St Paul's Cathedral (with the older child, then a toddler, cuddled in my lap). But now, I'm not so sure the kids would sit still for the entire service. And both churches now charge a very high fee for a visit, so we'll probably skip them otherwise.
--Victoria & Albert Museums... not sure the kids will be into another museum, but if we did one more museum on the trip it'd probably be the V&A.
Things we'll consciously skip this trip
--Live Theater... none of us are all that into live performances. If we really need to see Stomp or Matilda, we can do them this summer here in SF.
--Science Museum... we have already been to great science museums here in the US.
--British War Rooms
--Trafalgar Square & Covent Garden
What else am I missing?
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