3 Months in London

2 weeks back, I had a bit of a revelation.  As we were discussing our plans for the next few days, Katherine said “we only have 2 more weeks in London, so we need to make every day count!”

I realized that we haven’t been ANYWHERE ELSE for longer than 2 weeks, and most everywhere we have visited has been less than 1 week.  How can we feel like we have seen so little (and yet also have seen so much) in London.

 

Anyway, here are my top things to do in London (with kids):  Notice there are no mentions of the zoo.

 

  1. visit the local markets.  My favourites have been the
    1. Borough market (for veggies and nice quick meals)
      1. Lots of neat vendors.  I got excellent smoothies with the girls on one of our walking days.
    2. Oval Farmers market:
      1. its right around the corner from our place, and there are great veggies, meats and breads (and coffees and prepared food too!)  Probably every neighborhood farmer’s market will be similar
    3. Portobello Market
      1. held on Saturdays.  A 1 mile walk of stalls that mostly cater to tourists – but still fun to look through.  Don’t miss the ‘brick and mortar’ stores along the route.  We scored some great re-sale clothes, used books – and had a great raw-gluten free lunch at Nama (ok that was a 5 minute walk OFF the market – but well worth it.
    4. Camden Market
      1. so many nooks and crannies under the train tracks, and in old buildings.
      2. This one was my least favourite with kids.  Crowded, and lots of inappropriate t-shirt shops.
  2. Monuments, Historical Buildings, Local Places
    1. Monument:
      1. The great fire in the 1600s.  They built this monument in memory of the fire, and it has a great view form the top (350ish stairs inside the column.  At the Monument tube stop (natch)
    2. Tower of London
      1. Started in 1066.  Some of the oldest parts are built on Roman walls.  So many people lived or were imprisoned here.  Crown Jewels are here.  Great armour museum in the White Tower.  The tours by the Beefeaters are very funny – but perhaps a bit grisly for younger ears.. Lots of torture, beheadings, evicserations and the like.20151207_104801.jpg
    3. Tower Bridge
      1. Beautiful to photograph.  walking across it is fun – but take the tour. They have a glass floor in the top walkways.  They also have the engine room with the old steam engines on display (they raised and lowered the bridge).  Very cool.
    4. St Paul’s  Grace and I went.  Don’t be daunted by the cost to enter.. the views form the top of the tower are incredible.. the church inside is also beautiful.  But again – so many memorials for people who died in battle.IMG_20160226_124726303_HDRIMG_20160226_124730630
    5. Emirates Air Line
      1. The family did this and had a great time.. Over the Thames – built for the olympics in 2012.
    6. London Eye – the views are really cool.  in the offseason – we had a 0 minute wait.  But it is pricy.  and only 30 minutes long.   if the wait is longer than the adventure, I’d skip it 🙂IMG_20160223_150232606-PANO
    7. River Cruises
      1. Dont pay the big bucks.. For £6.50 adult (£4 for kids) you can take the London Transport boats.  In our expereince – they seemed less crowded.. Perhaps harder to get a good seat by the window.. but We took these 3 times to start (or end) a day’s adventure.20151213_130752
      2. IMG_20160227_170000068_HDR
  3. Stores:
    1. Hamley’s – 5 (or 6) floors of toys.  Not a huge fan of the pink floor, but they have really neat stuff, and employees doing demonstrations.  Fun for a walkthrough.
    2. Selfridges – we just started watching Mr. Selfridge on Netflix.  We stopped here for lunch after visiting the embassy.  Got stuck in the bookstore in the basement for hours – great selection of kids books 🙂
    3. Harrods – we stopped for tea, and the Egyptian escalators.  the food hall was fun, but other than that – no need to stop – unless you know what you need.20160119_171842-EFFECTS
  4. Window Shopping: great shops.. fun restaurants. If you like window shopping – you cant go wrong.
    1. Carnaby area – Carnaby Burger has Gluten free buns 🙂
    2. Seven Dials: cobblestone and brick buildings.
    3. Islington – 2 GF bakeries, and lots of fun shops. I got some jeans here.
    4. Kensington – We had pancakes (twice) at My Old Dutch.  Also lots of bigger stores you’ll recognise form the US, Banana Republic, Urban Outfitters, etc.
  5. Walks
    1. Thames South side (and North Side) – views of all the classic buildings – boats on the water.  Just fun to stroll. We also rented bikes and rode along the water!20160118_142442
    2. Wibbly Wobbly Bridge (Millenium Bridge)
    3. Hyde Park:  We rented bikes here, and rode around (on the paths that allow cycles).  We had so much fun!  Also – the Diana playground, and the Round pool to feed the swans.
    4. 20160202_154504_004-ANIMATION
    5. Victoria Park – fun playgrounds.. miles of trails- rent bikes!!
      1. Regent’s Canal towpath – this was a fun ride SOLO – not for the kids. the towpath is VERY narrow under the bridges.
  6. Museums.  London can do museums.  So many wonderful exhibits – all well suited for kids.  and best of all – All of them here (except the Belfast and the Transport Museum) they are FREE!
    1. Imperial War Museum – WWI exhibit is not to be missed.  Our son went twice – once with each parent.20160105_151820
    2. Science Museum – we have been 3 times… ad still have not seen every hall.  Apollo 10 command module.. Original crystal structures of proteins, Babbage’s difference machine, Stephenson’s Rocket steam train.  So much history.20160115_16510420160115_173632
    3. Natural History Museum – the family did this while I was sick. I hope we get to go back.  The dinosaur hall was closed.
    4. British Museum – Rosetta Stone, Easter Island statue. We loved the clock hall.  The atrium is really cool, and a great place to grab lunch. This coin is from Athens 400 BC.  Cool hands on presentations in the galleries 🙂
    5. Grant Museum of Zoology – I took the kids here while Katherine got her hair cut. A perfect 45 minute diversion.  One large room with so many skeletons and creatures suspended in oils/formaldehyde.  They pride themselves on their bisected head collection.20160123_144213
    6. HMS Belfast – WWII cruiser docked in the Thames.  The access is incredible.. walking through the engine room on little catwalks… Climbing into the shell magasine. Also – they have an enigma machine on display!
    7. Transport Museum – buses and trains.  Great history.  After riding the Tube for so long – it is amazing how long it has all been here.IMG_20160216_160057195
    8. Docklands Museum – Lots of deep discussions.. Slavery, plantations, colonies.. Then, as you move through the years, inevitably – the Blitz and WWII.  Very interesting museum in an old 1802 cane sugar and rum warehouse
  7. Playgrounds
    1. Diana Memorial Playground – plan a long stay.  Huge playground, with different areas of activity.  If you budget an hour – expect the kids to want to stay longer.IMG_20160216_133924748_HDR
    2. Adventure Parks – every neighborhood has one.  Very cool fun playsets that bring out imagination. The one near our house has a giant yellow submarine. 20160116_141339 There is another great one in the shadow of the London Eye.
  8. Harry Potter Studio Tour
    1. This gets its own bullet point.  It needs its own blog entry (we’ll see if I get there. Anyone who has read the books OR seen the movies will love this place. Even A – our 6 year old (who has not read the books, or seen the movies) loved this place!
    2. 20160126_170056

We certainly have seen a lot of London. It is now a part of us, and leaving is very sad.  But – no doubt – we will be back!

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