Trip Report: London

london-report

We recently returned from our summer vacation, and I’ll be sharing a couple of posts about traveling in Europe with children. First up: London.

Our London itinerary included a mix of visiting major sights, wandering around the city, and partaking in iconic British experiences – like riding backwards in taxis, eating fish and chips, and posing for pictures in red phone booths (which can still be found all over the city).

London is a great city to visit with children. The biggest surprise was that many of the major landmarks have playgrounds in close proximity. This offered the perfect way to burn off energy after standing in lines and being well-behaved in churches, museums and other crowded spaces. The playgrounds can be seen in more detail in our trip report video.

Here are the favs from our 48-hours in London:

The British Museum

British Museum with Google Street View

We visited the British Museum on the day we arrived in London, so we were jet lagged and exhausted but determined to make use of our limited time. We had explored the museum in advance using Google Street View, which allows you to move through the galleries and explore the installations via virtual imagery. This helped Jason and Jenna get familiar with some of the major pieces in the museum (like the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon sculptures) before we arrived.

St. James Park

map-stJamesPark2We nested St. James Park in-between touring Westminster Abbey and visiting Buckingham Palace. Walking (and, for Jason, running, and, for Jenna, cartwheeling) through the park was a welcome break from the crowded spaces of Westminster. The playground in the park is really nice, has an outdoor cafe with ice cream nearby, and is right on the path toward the palace. We arrived at the palace too late to see the changing of the guards, but we also missed the crowds and still managed to watch the guards pace back and forth in front of the palace.

Afternoon Tea and Other British Fare

London Food TourWe played up the local cuisine of each of our destinations well before travel time, so eating was a big part of our vacation. Afternoon tea was the highlight of our tour of British foods. We chose the St. Ermin’s hotel for afternoon tea, as they have a menu specifically for children. Other must-try items were Fish and Chips and Traditional English Breakfast, which features black pudding and baked beans. I even found a British pub that offers a vegetarian version of this meal.

The London Eye

View of Big Ben and Westminster from London Eye

The London Eye was on our ‘maybe’ list when we arrived. We ended up purchasing fast passes on the day of our visit, which allowed us to skip most of the line. The view is incredible and allowed us to spot another great park and playground and what looked to be an outdoor theatre just steps from the Eye. After a brief stay in the playground area, rain caused us to take cover, otherwise we would have definitely explored more.

London was a highlight of our visit to northern Europe and definitely a city we would like to visit again. I couldn’t post pics of our London trip without remembering our first attempt at a family selfie. Before we left, our neighbors convinced us we needed a selfie stick so that we could shoot family photos without handing phones and cameras to strangers. As it turns out, capturing selfies is not so easy. We diligently attempted to use it once during our entire 2-week stay in Europe. Here are a few of the outtakes:

London family selfies

Other cities on our summer vacation were: Bruges, Belgium; Oslo, Norway; Hamburg, Germany; Normandy beaches in France; and Windsor, England. So many great adventures to share!