I’m not sure why, but London was not ever on the top of my list of places I wanted to go. Not that I didn’t want to see London, but I was just kind of indifferent about going. On our family’s multi city European trip, London ended up being a favorite of mine and the whole family! We were only there a quick two days and hope to go back again, but our London itinerary worked out great for us!
First~Where we stayed:
We love using AirBnB for places to stay when we travel, but for London it worked out best for us to do a hotel. We were arriving and departing by train from two different train stations, so Kings Cross Inn Hotel in between both stations was perfect. They have rooms for families that are definitely tight but big enough so we didn’t have to get two hotel rooms for our family of 6. The biggest reason we chose this, however, might seem silly but was because they would hold our luggage for us before check-in and after check-out. When you are using public transportation, you are stuck with all your stuff, and those luggage storage places are SO expensive!
Our London Itinerary – Day 1
For Day 1 our plan was to first watch the changing of the guards. This website has great advice on how to plan for it, especially with kids, but unfortunately we arrived into London a bit later than I had anticipated and missed seeing it. It was okay though because we still got to see lots of guards at their posts as well as doing their marches. Our 3 year old was fascinated with the guards! He called them “guardeners” and marched around just like they did.
-Green Park/Buckingham Palace
We started off taking a stroll through The Green Park, which was peaceful and beautiful, on the way to Buckingham Palace. The kids loved Buckingham Palace and were excited that the Royal Standard Flag was flying. We were in London in early October, so crowds were not crazy and the weather was great!
-St. James Park
After Buckingham palace we spent some time in St. James Park, which I loved! We homeschool our kids, and our nature study focus had recently been about birds. St. James Park was the perfect place to see and talk about some of the things we had learned with lots of different species of birds close by.
-Houses of Parliament/Big Ben/Westminster Abbey
After our little “worldschool” lesson in St. James, we went to see the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben (under construction unfortunately, so you can’t really see it; supposed to be completed in 2021), and Westminster Abbey. We didn’t spend quite as much time in this area as we had planned because the “Extinction Rebellion” protest was going on there. There were tons of people and several of those protesters were dressed up in … well … interesting ways. The kids had lots of questions about this, and I think were a little scared by it, understandably so … it was pretty intense, especially for kids. We had some good conversations about it with them, but they didn’t want to be around it long, and neither did Josh or I.
So we started walking toward Covent Garden, which ended up being our favorite area! We have a really cool story about our Covent Garden experience where a local older gentleman showed us around to some of his favorite spots for 2 hours! He said that he likes “to take nice people to see beautiful things.” It was amazing. I wrote specifically about that story here. Covent Garden is full of beautiful little shops, gardens, cafes, and performers … and I’m talking legit musicians! Music education is my degree, and we saw both an incredible string quartet and an amazing tenor singing opera. We also found a new favorite shop called Gandys which is a travel inspired store that also gives back. There is a really cool story of how the brand started, and I’d love to read the book about it called Tsunami Kids.
-Afternoon Tea at St. Ermin’s Hotel
This was one of our more expensive experiences but also one of the favorites of the trip (not necessarily Josh’s personal favorite, but it was okay because he knew how much his girls loved it!). The girls and I absolutely loved our grown-up tea party where everyone had their own teapot and teacups, cute yummy sandwiches, tons of pretty and delicious sweets, and of course scones and jam. The boys loved it because it was basically a meal of desserts! We made reservations for this afternoon tea for one of the latest time slots so that it actually was our meal for the night. There was plenty to fill us up!
Our London Itinerary – Day 2
-Tower of London / London Bridge
We got discounted tickets from Expedia for a beefeater guided tour at the Tower of London. Our guide was funny and gave a great history lesson. We also got to see the crown jewels here, along with more “guardeners.” There are perfect views of the London Bridge here too!
For our family trips we pick and choose what we want to pay to experience (read more about our money saving tips for travel here). For example, we decided that it would not be worth it to pay to ride the London Eye, but the Tower of London was definitely worth it!
-Lunch at the Mayfair Chippy
I only mention food places on this blog if they were amazing, and the Mayfair Chippy had the best fish and chips we’ve ever had! It was also where our Mia discovered that she loves mushy peas!
We didn’t stay in this area too long … just a quick walk through and a little souvenir shopping.
-Natural History Museum
I love when museums are free! And this museum was great! Beautiful on both the outside and inside and filled to the brim, including a stunning 25.2 meter long (or for us in the States, almost 83 foot long) blue whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling!
London was vibrant, full of life, beauty, art, and kind people. The kids commented several times on how nice the people are there. I love that they notice things like that, and hopefully that inspires them to show kindness to others. When we go again we would love to take the kids to see a musical. For this trip I didn’t figure taking a three year old would be a very good idea, but I love the hope of going again. Maybe when Big Ben is done!