Feedback pls: 3 Days London with Kids

Old Sep 19th, 2022, 01:00 PM
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Feedback pls: 3 Days London with Kids

Hi. Traveling to London with two kids 5 and 9, and looking for feedback on the below itinerary based on our interests. I will not have jet lag after having been in London for nearly a week, but the husband and kids will be joining me on 11/19 after landing at 11am. I think they will be fine but open to suggestions as to if we rejigger this plan, as we will likely need to book tickets tomorrow/this week since some of these activities are selling out. Also, open to suggestions if we should add on nearby attractions/walks. I was trying to focus on what we should buy tickets for and our top priorities

Saturday (they land at 11am) 11/19
Igloo late lunch?
London Eye and walk to West End to see Mary Poppins/explore surrounding areas as time allows

Sunday 11/20
Hop on/Hop Off Bus
Tower of London
Christmas at Kew Gardens

Monday 11/21
Hogwarts - earliest AM tickets
Couple of Gardens
River Thames cruise (but maybe it's too cold)

Leave Tuesday morning/midday for Paris
open to add on ideas that become must-dos
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Old Sep 19th, 2022, 02:29 PM
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Hi HeatherH, you might want to rethink that first afternoon - I would not depend on a 5 yr old being awake for Mary Poppins, you might be carrying a sleeping child out of the theatre. In fact I would just factor in 'quiet play time' in the hotel / apartment for the afternoon. Perhaps Mary Poppins might take the place of the Thames cruise on day 3?

Generally you are optimistic about how much you will get done, and just how big London is and how long it can take to get around, especially with little feet. If you figure on two big activities a day that I think would be a good achievement.

Lavandula
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Old Sep 19th, 2022, 02:56 PM
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My kids were exactly the age of yours when we went to London. Of course interests change, but a lot is still the same.
Seeing Mary Poppins is pretty special and while they might be OK when they arrive, they may be dragging by afternoon, so I would save that for another day.
HOHO bus. Some people love them, but personally, I find them pretty useless, slow, lots of sitting in traffic, not really seeing much, just driving by. If you are outside on top, you are breathing fumes. My kids liked it on top for about twenty minutes. They could not hear the speaker outside and it got cold. Inside, they couldn’t see much. Consider doing something else.
They loved the Tower of London. They had read a lot of stories and one of the beef eaters chatted with them, explaining his purpose.
They loved the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Surprisingly, they liked Westminster.
They liked walking across Tower Bridge, they had read stories about the bridge.
They loved going to plays.
Hogwarts and London Eye sound great!
I guess gauge Thames cruise when you are there. I did not find it very exciting.
Would they enjoy a shorter cruise on a long boat on the canal between little Venice and Camden Market? You are close to the banks and see such a variety of houseboats with pets and plants living on them. People may be biking along the tow path.
Have you considered Hampton Court rather than the Thames cruise and the HOHO? It is more doing, less sitting.

Last edited by Sassafrass; Sep 19th, 2022 at 02:58 PM. Reason: Spelling
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Old Sep 19th, 2022, 04:13 PM
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Thank you. Will take your advice and move Mary Poppins to a different day!
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Old Sep 19th, 2022, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Sassafrass View Post
My kids were exactly the age of yours when we went to London. Of course interests change, but a lot is still the same.
Seeing Mary Poppins is pretty special and while they might be OK when they arrive, they may be dragging by afternoon, so I would save that for another day.
HOHO bus. Some people love them, but personally, I find them pretty useless, slow, lots of sitting in traffic, not really seeing much, just driving by. If you are outside on top, you are breathing fumes. My kids liked it on top for about twenty minutes. They could not hear the speaker outside and it got cold. Inside, they couldn’t see much. Consider doing something else.
They loved the Tower of London. They had read a lot of stories and one of the beef eaters chatted with them, explaining his purpose.
They loved the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Surprisingly, they liked Westminster.
They liked walking across Tower Bridge, they had read stories about the bridge.
They loved going to plays.
Hogwarts and London Eye sound great!
I guess gauge Thames cruise when you are there. I did not find it very exciting.
Would they enjoy a shorter cruise on a long boat on the canal between little Venice and Camden Market? You are close to the banks and see such a variety of houseboats with pets and plants living on them. People may be biking along the tow path.
Have you considered Hampton Court rather than the Thames cruise and the HOHO? It is more doing, less sitting.
Thank you for these thoughts! I was debating on adding in a museum - maybe on the Tuesday. If we only pick one museum, is V&A the one you would pick? I don't know that they will like the British Museum, and they have been to their fair share of Natural History Museums.

If we skip HOHO, what are the key sights that we can hit in a taxi and jump out and do? (I know taxis are insanely expensive so no worries there). Maybe instead of HOHO, we just hit up Buckingham Palace for changing of the guards and walk around Westminster Abbey/Big Ben? I have never been to Hampton Court Palace myself - do you recommend it?

Will add Tower Bridge walk to the Tower of London visit.

Can skip the Thames River Cruise - I remember liking it on one of my first trips to London when I was young, but it was also delightful weather in June or July.

Appreciate all your thoughts and open to any others. Thanks again!
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Old Sep 19th, 2022, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by lavandula View Post
Hi HeatherH, you might want to rethink that first afternoon - I would not depend on a 5 yr old being awake for Mary Poppins, you might be carrying a sleeping child out of the theatre. In fact I would just factor in 'quiet play time' in the hotel / apartment for the afternoon. Perhaps Mary Poppins might take the place of the Thames cruise on day 3?

Generally you are optimistic about how much you will get done, and just how big London is and how long it can take to get around, especially with little feet. If you figure on two big activities a day that I think would be a good achievement.

Lavandula
Thank you. Will take your advice and move Mary Poppins to a different day!
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Old Sep 19th, 2022, 05:17 PM
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Caveat: I've only read the OP and none of the responses so some of these ideas may already be covered. I'll have time to read more later this evening . . .

"Saturday (they land at 11am) 11/19
Igloo late lunch?
London Eye and walk to West End to see Mary Poppins/explore surrounding areas as time allows
"

Which Igloos were you considering?? But in any case, ff it was me I'd bag the plans for the 19th -- not just Mary Poppins, but the igloos too. They land at 11 -- even IF they land on time which is not guaranteed in the current situation - w/ an 11AM arrival and the issues at LHR they will be lucky to get to the hotel/flat by 2:30 and later is very likely. You won't have jet lag but chances are good at least one of them will. If any of us were jet lagged being in a confined igloo might not be the best idea.

"Sunday 11/20
Hop on/Hop Off Bus
Tower of London
Christmas at Kew Gardens
"

I wouldn't 1) plan the Tower on a Sunday -- by far the most crowded day there. And 2) I definitely wouldn't do the Tower on the same day as the H-o-H-o. One wants to arrive at the Tower at or just before opening time. Later in the day it will be much more crowded -- H-o-H-o's are slow. Also -- I'd never pre-plan the H-o-H-o. They are very weather dependent - you want to ride on the open upstairs deck and that is NOT fun on a wet/freezing day. You can't really see much from inside downstairs. Do it on a decent day or not at all. Christmas at Kew is GREAT.

"
Monday 11/21
Hogwarts - earliest AM tickets
Couple of Gardens
River Thames cruise (but maybe it's too cold
)"

Highly unlikely -- the WB tour will fill most of your day. At least 4 hours for the attraction plus total transit time of nearly 90 minutes - maybe more. The train takes 20 mins each way, WB the shuttle from the train station = 15 mins but it only run every 30 mins so here will likely be some wait time . . . PLUS however long it takes to get to/from Euston station from your hotel. Plus not sure what you expect from gardens in November (Xmas at Kew is a different thing)


I'd consider including one of these (depending on your kids interests) -- The Natural History Museum (Dinosaurs, bugs, animals, etc) , V&A (decorative arts), British Museum (Mummies - even cats plus they have an "Explorer Trail" for families . . .

I'll try to get back to read th eother posts later . . .

Last edited by janisj; Sep 19th, 2022 at 05:20 PM.
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Old Sep 19th, 2022, 08:39 PM
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OK -- had time to read more . . .

"If we skip HOHO, what are the key sights that we can hit in a taxi and jump out and do? (I know taxis are insanely expensive so no worries there). Maybe instead of HOHO, we just hit up Buckingham Palace for changing of the guards and walk around Westminster Abbey/Big Ben? I have never been to Hampton Court Palace myself - do you recommend it?"

Sorry but IMO/IME neither the H-o-H-o or a taxi tour are good uses of time. Years ago hailing a taxi and just tell him to 'surprise us' was terrific -- some great tours. I've done exactly that 3 or 4 times when traveling with first timers on our last night in London. London taxi drivers are the best. But that really hasn't made sense in more than a decade. London traffic is pretty much insane except in the wee small hours. Even buses with lots of dedicated bus lanes can take FOREVER to move a few blocks.

You have next to no time in London so don't try to squeeze a lot of stuff. Plan on 2 major sites a day - one before lunch and one after then do theatre in the evening. For the Harry Potter Day -- make that the only major site that day and maybe you can squeeze in something in the late afternoon.

When I've traveled with young kids here are some of the things they loved (but all children are different). Look over the list and pick a handful that seem interesting and don't try to cram in too much:

• Tower of London
• Hampton Court Palace
• Theatre
• London Transport Museum
• Paddle boats in Hyde Park but that isn't doable in November
• Riding upstairs on a regular TFL bus
• Afternoon tea like the Potion Room at Cutter & Squidge or the Charlie & the Chocolate Factory tea at One Aldwych,

• Riding in a pedi car jitney - If Mary Poppins is still at the Prince Edward Theatre -- jumping on a pedi cab in Covent Garden to go to the theatre would work.
• Watching the buskers in Covent Garden
• British or Natural History or Science museums -- but warning - the Natura History can get insanely crowded.

Your really only have two full days plus a partial day on their arrival and you just won't know what condition they'll be in after an overnight flight -- Harry Potter will eat up 2/3 a day or more so you really need to decide how important it is. It IS a terrific experience -- but it is big time investment.
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Old Sep 20th, 2022, 12:19 AM
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My kids loved the British Museum when they were 8 and 11, but I'm not sure about a 5-year-old. It's huge, so a lot of walking.

My granddaughter loved the Victoria & Albert when she was 8. They were having a fashion-through-the-ages exhibit. I would look into what special events they're having, which might influence your decision. There was a section where kids could dress up in various costumes; I don't know if that's always on or if it was part of the exhibit.

Instead of a Thames River cruise, I would suggest taking a boat to Greenwich, where they could tour the Cutty Sark (sailing vessel) and stand on the Meridian Line. The museum at the National Observatory is interesting. You could take the train back to London.

Hampton Court has some interesting things for kids. You could take the train there and a boat back.
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Old Sep 20th, 2022, 04:31 AM
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You could slip in a short ride on the top deck of an ordinary scheduled bus (if that of itself has novelty value) that's going near something you want to see,:

key-bus-routes-in-central-london.pdf

​​​​
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Old Sep 20th, 2022, 06:04 AM
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We took our kids to London in 2019, and my oldest two were similar ages to yours. On our first day there, we ended up just spending most of our time in Kensington Gardens at the Diana playground. They'll be exhausted and fresh air helps.

My kids also really enjoyed the London Transport Museum & Covent Garden, the Tower, and a day to trip to Stonehenge. Truly though, one of the things my kiddo who was 5 at the time remembers most is chasing birds in the parks and riding the Tube.

Your 9 year old would probably appreciate the British Museum more than the 5 year old. We have photos of my then 5 year old laying on a bench near the Elgin Marbles because he was so over it. You know what your kids will handle though!

Have a great time. London is a great city to take a family!

Last edited by Danielle811; Sep 20th, 2022 at 06:08 AM.
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Old Sep 20th, 2022, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Danielle811 View Post
We took our kids to London in 2019, and my oldest two were similar ages to yours. On our first day there, we ended up just spending most of our time in Kensington Gardens at the Diana playground. They'll be exhausted and fresh air helps.

My kids also really enjoyed the London Transport Museum & Covent Garden, the Tower, and a day to trip to Stonehenge. Truly though, one of the things my kiddo who was 5 at the time remembers most is chasing birds in the parks and riding the Tube.

Your 9 year old would probably appreciate the British Museum more than the 5 year old. We have photos of my then 5 year old laying on a bench near the Elgin Marbles because he was so over it. You know what your kids will handle though!

Have a great time. London is a great city to take a family!
Lots of good ideas/personal experience there -- just that parks and chasing birds . . . maybe not so much in November.
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Old Sep 20th, 2022, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Lots of good ideas/personal experience there -- just that parks and chasing birds . . . maybe not so much in November.
Fair point, but we were there in April and our first few days were COLD and damp (low 50s as highs). Kids don't care if there is a good playground around 😉.
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Old Sep 20th, 2022, 10:03 AM
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Perhaps it would be better to think that you realistically have only two full days to plan. Make those your days to see things.

The first day is only an afternoon after hours of sitting on a plane (good play time).
The last day is getting up and preparing to head for Paris. Depending on what time you are departing, you might fit in one activity of an hour or two.
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Old Sep 20th, 2022, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Danielle811 View Post
Fair point, but we were there in April and our first few days were COLD and damp (low 50s as highs). Kids don't care if there is a good playground around 😉.
Not only is Nov likely to be colder and possibly wetter -- the days are much shorter and almost nothing will be in bloom. Having said that my last two December trips I had lovely weather -- relatively speaking. No rain/wind and cool to cold temps. Still wasn't chasing birds in parks weather
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Old Sep 21st, 2022, 08:23 AM
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Thank you all for your input and help. I have modified our plans to incorporate your very helpful feedback. If any last minute thoughts, please feel free to share.

Saturday (they land at 11am) 11/19
Princess Diana playground/Kensington Gardens
London Eye

Sunday 11/20
Hogwarts - earliest AM tickets
Igloo dinner - any suggestions of a location that might make sense that is near Kew Gardens?
Christmas at Kew Gardens 7pm

Monday 11/21
Tower of London, Walk around Westminster Abbey, Big Ben
Mary Poppins show 7:30 (any suggestions for an early dinner before?)

Leave Tuesday midday for Paris via Eurostar
Buckingham Palace Changing of the Guards or British Museum



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Old Sep 21st, 2022, 09:29 AM
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Just re the WB/Kew day -- I'd really skip the igloo dinner. Not that big a deal -- just a regular dinners in a private pod. Plus there are masses of things to eat at Kew. The entire park is full of kiosks, and food offerings. Think of it as Christmas Market food spread throughout the walking route. AFAIK there are no igloo venues near Kew (though more seem to be added every year. The closest I personally know of is next to the river in Fulham and is not at all convenient to Kew. If you are doing the WB tour that morning/early afternoon -- have lunch there then head into central London and visit one of the Museums -- V&A would be good. Eat a late afternoon tea or very early dinner at the museum then head out on the District Line to Kew.

OR . . . It may be too late to get a booking at the on-site Botanical restaurant, but if you can get in maybe book an early dinner - maybe at 5-ish because once you finish eating you can go straight into the Christmas festival without having to wait for your 7PM timed ticket.

(It's a bit unfortunate you booked so late at Kew -- it will be a long and tiring evening - with little kids I would have booked close to opening like 4:30 or 5PM. Sunset is around 4PM so it would have been dark already - but if you can eat at the Botanical you van achieve sort of the same thing)
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Old Sep 21st, 2022, 09:32 AM
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Your Sunday is a likely a LOT of transit time if you are doing both Hogwarts and Kew Gardens. If you want to include a Christmas activity you might check closer to the time at Time Out London online magazine. They will have current event information and they have a special kids section.

Instead of BP version of changing of guards consider the Horse Guard version which occurs just before. You can then follow the change through the arch and into the park. Pretty spectacular and doesn't attract quite the same crowds as the BP version. https://www.householddivision.org.uk...een-life-guard

And if you do decide for any museum, the VA and the British Museum are free. And they have have kids "kits" to make the visit more enjoyable for them. You might look at each museum on line in advance as to any special events for kids too.
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Old Sep 21st, 2022, 09:54 AM
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OK -- now for Monday and Tuesday.

Monday: There are literally hundreds of restaurants in Soho/Leicester Square/Seven Dials/Covent Garden area convenient to the Prince Edward Theatre -- most offering pre-theatre menus. What sort of food/budget? Chinatown is practically on the doorstep of the theatre so that would be good if you like Chinese meals . . .

Tuesday: There is no way you can do either the Buckingham Palace or Horse Guards guard change. In your OP you say you are leaving morning/midday on the Eurostar -- One needs to be at St Pancras 45 mins prior to the departure time (there is security and passport control similar but quicker than at airports). So you'll have to leave your hotel and travel to St Pancras before the Guards change. I really wouldn't plan on much if anything that day. OR . . . if you haven't booked the Eurostar yet -- book much later in the afternoon/early evening.
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Old Sep 21st, 2022, 10:10 AM
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Janisj, Please be my travel planner when we can finally go to London with GD.
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