London Family Vacations

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Families Will Love

  • A fairytale trip full of palaces and royalty
  • An easy-to-use subway and bus system
  • Historic and art-filled museums

London Family Vacations Overview

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For families, there's no better introduction to the history, culture and distinct charm of Europe than to take a trip to London. The flight from the East Coast is only seven hours. Once outside the airport, the kids will immediately notice that they're in a different country. The taxi driver is riding on the right, not the left side of the car and driving on the left, not the right side of the road. Thankfully, he speaks English, though with one of those funny British accents. Being able to communicate effectively is the reason I believe London should be the first stop on any European itinerary.

Once you drop off your bags, there are a slew of activities to savor. There's the morning Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, a ride on the London Eye, a cruise down the Thames under the famous Tower Bridge, feeding the birds at one of London's glorious parks, a visit to a former castle of King Henry VIII, Hampton Court Palace, or the unfortunate site where two of his wives were beheaded, the Tower of London. The London Underground is the finest subway system in the world, easy to get from place to place, or you can always hop on a double-decker bus or taxi as an alternative.
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For families, there's no better introduction to the history, culture and distinct charm of Europe than to take a trip to London. The flight from the East Coast is only seven hours. Once outside the airport, the kids will immediately notice that they're in a different country. The taxi driver is riding on the right, not the left side of the car and driving on the left, not the right side of the road. Thankfully, he speaks English, though with one of those funny British accents. Being able to communicate effectively is the reason I believe London should be the first stop on any European itinerary.

Once you drop off your bags, there are a slew of activities to savor. There's the morning Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, a ride on the London Eye, a cruise down the Thames under the famous Tower Bridge, feeding the birds at one of London's glorious parks, a visit to a former castle of King Henry VIII, Hampton Court Palace, or the unfortunate site where two of his wives were beheaded, the Tower of London. The London Underground is the finest subway system in the world, easy to get from place to place, or you can always hop on a double-decker bus or taxi as an alternative.

For dining, the city no longer serves only fish and chips or steak and kidney pies. You can sample some of the best Indian, Middle Eastern and Italian food on the continent with many affordable and family-friendly options. Then there's the theater scene in the West End that easily rivals Broadway as one of the finest. Like Manhattan, there's so much going on in London that you'll need time to slow down and rejuvenate or you'll quickly be exhausted. Take time to relax at your hotel and reenergize. Read Less

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Latest London Family Vacation Reviews

mes98nd

05/17/2010

How to visit London with a Toddler and have fun!

My husband and I have both been to London multiple times so we thought it was a good choice for our first true vacation with our 17-month-old son. ... My husband and I have both been to London multiple times so we thought it was a good choice for our first true vacation with our 17-month-old son. Hotel: After considerable research, we chose to stay at the Rubens at the Palace. It was a very nice hotel, in a good location. It was fun walking past Buckingham Palace several times during our stay. We were able to get a crib (a pack-n-play) and a small refrigerator for storing our son's milk in our room. The hotel was quiet â�" we never heard other guests, which means that hopefully other guests didn't hear our crying boy in the middle of the night! Attractions: The London Eye wasn't worth the money since our capsule was crowded and it was difficult to control our toddler in the confined space. We made sure to spend a lot of time enjoying outdoor spaces. The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens was a lot of fun. Our son also enjoyed chasing pigeons in Trafalgar Square. We also took the tube to Kew Gardens. It had a wonderful playground in addition to all of the beautiful plants. Museums were a bit trickier, depending on our son's mood. (Luckily, most museums are free which made short trips easier.) Our son didn't have a lot of patience at the Victoria & Albert museum so one parent would stroll around while the other enjoyed the art and then we'd switch. At the Tate Modern, our son had no interest in the exhibits so I took him down to the Turbine Hall (which was empty at the time but sometimes has special exhibits) and let him run around. He loved it! Tate Modern also has a family-friendly restaurant. The London Transport Museum (in Covent Garden, itself is a fun location to explore) was a lot of fun for all of us. They have old busses and trains, some of which you can climb inside and even a children's play area. Restaurants: As I previously mentioned, the Tate Modern's restaurant was family-friendly (affordable, good kids' menu). Giraffe (a chain) is another good choice for family dining. They have dinner specials earlier in the evening, which fit well with our dining schedule and saved us money. My favorite restaurant in London is Wagamama (another chain) â�" a Japanese noodle bar. Food is served quickly and what kid doesn't love noodles? There are several locations around London, some busier than others. We dined at one near Victoria Station and another in the basement of Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge. We also made picnics by getting sandwiches to-go from Prêt A Manger (another chain) and from a lovely pastry shop we found down the street from the V&A. Transportation: We flew in/out of Heathrow. We befriended the gate agents at JFK and were moved to a bulkhead row, giving us a little more room on the plane. It's possible to take the tube to central London (or the Heathrow Express â�" a train into Paddington), but with all of our luggage, plus a toddler in a stroller and his car seat, we opted to splurge on a private car. It cost about $100 â�" so definitely more than the train or tube but also a lot more convenient. We had someone to help carry our luggage, a short walk to the car, and were taken straight to hotel's front door. Around London, we walked a lot and relied on public transportation. The bus is way easier if your child is in a stroller, as many Underground stations don't have elevators. You can get a bus map that shows the routes that go past the major tourist attractions. Definitely get an Oyster card â�" it's very easy and also cheaper than paying per trip. You can use the Oyster card on both the tube and the bus. Our son enjoyed riding the tube, especially the Circle/District line since it's not completely underground. He loved watching the train go! Pay attention to the Underground map that shows stops with a wheelchair sign. These are stops that are "step-free" from street to platform â�" useful information when traveling with a stroller. We had a wonderful week in London. It was very different than our previous visits, but with a little extra planning, we were able to have a fun week â�" even with a toddler! Read More Read Less

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