Salisbury & Stonehenge from London

Mar 15th, 2019, 03:46 PM
  #1  
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Salisbury & Stonehenge from London

I'm traveling to London in a few weeks with my family. My 7 year old announced today that he really wants to visit Stonehenge, as he's been reading about it in school. This was really not on my radar for this trip as both DH and I have been, so now I'm rethinking my plans. I did warn him that he wouldn't be able to actually go into the circle, but he doesn't care. He's intrigued by the mystery.

All that to say...I think we'd be giving up Hampton Court Palace to accommodate this request, and I'm curious if it's realistic to combine Salisbury/Stonehenge with another destination or is it a full day commitment? We would plan on taking the train to Salisbury and then the Stonehenge tour bus from there, as one of the full day bus tours just isn't feasible with 3 kids under 8.
Danielle811 is offline  
Mar 15th, 2019, 03:59 PM
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>> or is it a full day commitment? <<

Pretty much a full day. IF you got an early start from London and were able to take an early afternoon train back yo the city you possibly could fit in another site in London late that afternoon.

The train takes 1:20 to 1:35 each way
janisj is online now  
Mar 15th, 2019, 04:05 PM
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Meant to add . . . how long are you in London and what else are you seeing? You definitely should fit in Stonehenge, but it would be hard to eliminate Hampton Court. It and the Tower are probably the top 2 sites for kids in London.
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Mar 15th, 2019, 04:12 PM
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Thanks janisj. I thought it might be a full day, but was thrown by the bus tours that also loop in Windsor, etc with it. I wasn't sure if that was quite as doable by train.

Quite honestly, I'm still not 100% committed to changing the plans, but it's also hard to say no to one of the only specific requests DS has made for this trip.
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Mar 15th, 2019, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Meant to add . . . how long are you in London and what else are you seeing? You definitely should fit in Stonehenge, but it would be hard to eliminate Hampton Court. It and the Tower are probably the top 2 sites for kids in London.
We'll be there 6 days, including our arrival day. A rough list of our plans include the Tower, British Museum, Science Museum, Natural History Museum, Transport Museum, Gardens/Hyde Park, Trafalgar Square/National Gallery, St James Park and Buckingham Palace, possibly St Paul's, walk-by of Parliament and potentially a tour of Westminster Abbey. The Museum of London was also recommended. Hampton Court Palace was meant to be our day trip, but not sure if two are feasible in the amount of time we have.
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Mar 15th, 2019, 04:26 PM
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And obviously that list is completely out of order/stream of consciousness. I do have things grouped into days based on time and location, but clearly it looks like a disorganized mess when presented like that.
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Mar 15th, 2019, 04:36 PM
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>>We'll be there 6 days, including our arrival day.<<

So really only 5 full days. Don't plan on much on your arrival day - even if you land super early in the AM. So you will have a hard time fitting in everything as it is.

Tower
British Museum
Science Museum
Natural History Museum
Transport Museum
Gardens/Hyde Park
National Gallery
St Paul's
Westminster Abbey
The Museum of London
not to mention Hampton Court Palace or Stonehenge

That is without all your 'walk-by's (Trafalgar Sq, Parliament - Just an FYI but Big Ben is under scaffolding, the parks, Buckingham Palace, etc)

Your plans are very ambitious and I honestly don't think you can fit everything in unless you run at a full tilt every day. I'd re-think which sites are most important to you -- if your son really wants to visit Stonehenge you'll have to cut several of your other sites. Even without Stonehenge or HCP, you'll probably have to cut a few.
janisj is online now  
Mar 16th, 2019, 12:22 AM
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Am I correct in understanding that you'll be travelling with three kids under 8?

If so, I'm not sure some of the places listed in your plans will be of interest/suitable for kids so young, most notably Trafalgar Square/National Gallery, St Paul's, walk-by of Parliament and potentially a tour of Westminster Abbey. The Science and Natural History Museums are definitely ideal for that age group. I would suggest opting for the day trip to Stonehenge if you drop some of the more adult orientated sights, if you go by train it will make it more of an exciting trip for the kids and they'll get to be out in the English countryside which makes for a nice contrast from the congestion of London.
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Mar 16th, 2019, 05:58 AM
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I hope your kids really like museums.
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Mar 16th, 2019, 06:33 AM
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With 3 kids under 8, I would definitely cutback on museum time. Your itinerary is rushed even for an adult and I can't imagine young kids to be too thrilled with it either. You don't seem to be adding in the time it takes to get from one place to the next. Not only will rhis eat up a lot of time, it can be very tiring.
historytraveler is online now  
Mar 16th, 2019, 08:26 AM
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Absolutely agree that my list is overly ambitious and museum heavy. There are certainly things that need to be pruned, others that were tentative, and still others that we will not all visit together.

Traveling with me are my husband, 7.5 year old, 5 year old, and recently turned 1 year old. My oldest is fascinated by history, and will likely get the most out of this trip. My 5 year old is our wild card, is most looking forward to the Transport and Science Museums (and riding trains and buses). The two oldest really do enjoy museums; however, we're also realistic and are planning on following their lead. Our youngest is fortunately very easy going, and is generally content to hang out in either a stroller or baby carrier.

With that background in mind, and with the addition of Stonehenge, I've been trying to think critically about our itinerary. For reference, we're staying near Paddington. Here is what I've come up with so far.

Day 1-Arrival Day (Friday)
AM-Land at 9:10 AM, spend rest of morning getting from airport to hotel.
PM-fight jet lag exploring Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, stock up on necessities (is snacks), early dinner and bedtime

Day 2-Saturday
AM-Tower of London/Tower Bridge (walk across)
Leadenhall Market (Diagon Alley)
PM-Walk from Westminster to Trafalgar Square (or vice versa), VERY abbreviated tour to National Gallery as time allows

Day 3-Sunday
Hampton Court Palace
MUST be back by 4:30 as DH wants to find a pub where he can watch Liverpool vs Chelsea. The kids and I will have some down time at either a park or the hotel.

Day 4-Monday
AM-London Transport Museum
PM-British Museum

Day 5-Tuesday
Stonehenge

Day 6-Wednesday
AM-St James's Park and MAYBE Changing of the Guard (another option is watching the Horse Guards change at 10:30), otherwise just a walk by of Buckingham Palace
PM-Science Museum/Natural History Museum/V&A (think we will probably split up and check things out based on interests)

Day 7-Thursday
Eurostar to Paris

Obviously our schedule is still very full, and I'm still debating about keeping Hampton Court Palace. If we eliminated that, I may just shuffle the existing plans to slow our pace a bit more.

Does this look like a better plan? Have I dropped anything that should be included? Thanks for everyone's feedback!
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Mar 16th, 2019, 09:10 AM
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random comments (and I didn't even notice in the OP there are THREE young children -- merely focused on the 7yo wanting to visit Stonehenge):

>>AM-St James's Park and MAYBE Changing of the Guard (another option is watching the Horse Guards change at 10:30), otherwise just a walk by of Buckingham Palace<<

and MAYBE Changing of the Guard . . . Absolutely 100% not. The Guard Change will eat up the entire morning because you must get there very early to get a decent viewpoint. That means standing . . . just standing . . . in one place for nearly 3 hours. Otherwise you will be far back and only the children sitting on your shoulders will see even the top of the bear skin hats let alone the march in. Horse Guards is better but even it has become more popular. Better for little ones for sure.

If you just want to see the outside of the Palace- then combine it with a walk up the Mall and Trafalgar Sq/National Gallery instead. Arrive at the Palace after the Guard change is well over, see the palace, walk up the Mall through St James's Park (see the ponds, birds, etc) ending up at Admiralty Arch. Trafalgar Sq fountains/Lions and brief visit to the Nat'l Gallery. This would free up your Saturday afternoon plans.

On Saturday -- The Tower will take until at least lunch time. You don't need to walk across the bridge but maybe just a few yards on it and back. However . . . Saturday and Sunday are the busiest/most crowded days at the Tower so I might move the Tower to a different day.

>>Day 4-Monday AM-London Transport Museum PM-British Museum<<

I'd consider reversing the order -- do the British Museum first then in the afternoon head to Covent Garden -- have lunch in one of the outdoor cafes. Watch some of the street performers -- they always try to include the kids, then visit the Transport Museum. OR if you have lunch at the British Museum -- head next to the Transport Museum, then watch the buskers and eat an early dinner in Covent Garden.
janisj is online now  
Mar 16th, 2019, 09:36 AM
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Hi Danielle811, My DH and I took a tour to England some years ago. Our tour took us to Salisbury Cathedral and Stonehenge in the a.m. and to Bath in the afternoon, Did you not mention seeing a tour for Hampton Court and Stonehenge? It might be do-able. Just check the actual itinerary, yes?
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Mar 16th, 2019, 09:55 AM
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>>Did you not mention seeing a tour for Hampton Court and Stonehenge? It might be do-able.<<

There is one very pricey tour that combines the two. But most tours lump Windsor with Stonehenge. However none of the commercial coach tours are appropriate for 1 and 5 yo's and would be iffy for a 7yo.
janisj is online now  
Mar 16th, 2019, 12:59 PM
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Your latest itinerary along with janisj’s additions ( such as “don’t attempt Changing of the Guards” for reasons stated ) should be fine. I agree that tours are not a good combo with very young children and they also do exactly what you are trying to avoid which is attempting too much in a day with youngsters in tow.
historytraveler is online now  
Mar 16th, 2019, 03:24 PM
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Thanks janisj for all of your insights. Everything is duly noted, and I'll be factoring everything into our final plans. We'll definitely swap the order of our British Museum/Transport Museum day in order to include Covent Garden.My 5 year old is quite a performer, and would LOVE it!

​​​​​Changing of the Guard, at least at Buckingham Palace, seems like a unanimous no, especially with our added day out.

Thanks again to everyone who provided feedback. I'll report back after the trip!
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Mar 16th, 2019, 04:57 PM
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I have to say my kids really enjoyed seeing Stonehenge and we were fortunate to be able to get after hours tickets and get inside to touch and walk amongst the stones. It was one of the few sights they had seen in their history books which made it more special for them. I have to say my husband and I loved being there, as well. You might check this website for availability:
https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stonehenge/plan-your-visit/stone-circle-access-visits.
We did have a rental car which enabled us to not worry about making train or bus timetables.
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