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Once in a lifetime trip for my son and I. Advice Please

Seagrove
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Once in a lifetime trip for my son and I. Advice Please

My 7 year old son and I are accompanying my husband on a business trip. He will be working the entire time so I am planning for my son and I to take in as much as possible on this once in a lifetime trip for us. I don’t care for a lot of shopping; prefer to keep things simple and efficient. There are so many amazing things to do here that I am afraid we will miss something spectacular or waste time at something we should skip. We have a few small tours planned already and an appointment time at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour.

Day 1 –

We arrive at Heathrow around 10 AM and we are staying near the Tower of London.

I am hoping that we can get to the hotel and then head out about 1 or 2 and visit:

Grant Museum of Zoology

St. Paul’s Cathedral

Millennium Bridge

Day 2 –

Natural History Museum

Tower of London

Tower Bridge

Warner Brothers Studio Tour

Day 3 –

Royal Walking Tour – Buckingham Palace, St James' Palace, Changing of Guard

Albert Memorial - Walk by

Kensington Palace - May just walk by

Diana Memorial Playground – Let my son play a few minutes

Windsor Castle

Day 4 –

British Museum

Muggle Tours - Harry Potter London Tour

Day 5 – ??? Have nothing set in stone for this day. Would like to get out of town a little, maybe see additional castles and or the beautiful countryside.

Stonehenge ?

Leeds Castle ?

Other Interests

London Eye - just plan to view

West Minster Abby

Big Ben

Freemasons’ Hall

Hamleys Toy Store

Am I planning to much or not enough? Am I missing something that I shouldn’t skip? As I said earlier I doubt that I will ever get the opportunity to come back here so want to make the most of it. Don't mind navigating myself, prefer not to spend a lot more money than I have to, but at the same time don't want to miss something spectacular. Suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

U.S. expats
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for Windsor, London, Dry Tortugas National Park
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1. Re: Once in a lifetime trip for my son and I. Advice Please

You are planning too much.

Generally speaking, you should plan on 2 major attractions a day, with third, smaller thing as a bonus if you can make it.

Some things on your list are just totally undoable because of opening/closing times and the amount of time it takes to see each attraction. St. Paul's, for example, has a last entry of 4:00, and if you wanted your little boy to have the chance to scurry up the Dome, you'd need to arrive with time to do it--probably no later than 2:30.

Several things on your list you put down as "just walk by." That's fine, but you can "just walk by" them until 9:00 at night in the summer months, but in Late October, early November it will be dark at 4:00. What time of year is this trip?

Seagrove
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2. Re: Once in a lifetime trip for my son and I. Advice Please

We will be there the second week in November. Dark by 4 PM, yes that does change things a bit. Can you suggest any items to drop/switch/add? Thank you for your reply.

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: Once in a lifetime trip for my son and I. Advice Please

At what time have you booked the HP tour? Travel from the Tower to Euston may take longer than the rail journey to Watford Junction, but let us know the time of day and day of the week you'll make your way there.

The Guard change at Buckingham Palace involves a great deal of standing around for a small payoff; young Master AndMore may not see the appeal of the Change after waiting 45 minutes for something he might not be able to see.

You may wish to consider adding a bus journey from Trafalgar Square to Marble Arch then back again for a very good view of the Christmas lights in Regent and Oxford Streets. Take the 6, 23 or 159 from Trafalgar Square to Marble Arch: tfl.gov.uk/gettingaround/maps/buses/pdf/traf… plus or minus that pause at Hamleys. From Marble Arch make the return journey to Trafalgar Square or on to Fleet Street (on the 23) en route to Tower Hill: tfl.gov.uk/gettingaround/…marblearch-a4.pdf

You and your son might enjoy the Museum of Childhood; the 254 from Aldgate will take you to a stop about a minute from the museum: tfl.gov.uk/gettingaround/maps/buses/pdf/aldg… and tfl.gov.uk/gettingaround/maps/buses/pdf/beth… (stop G is nearer the museum entrance)

Where have you booked to stay near the Tower?

U.S. expats
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4. Re: Once in a lifetime trip for my son and I. Advice Please

Skip the Changing of the Guard in London, but check and see if you can see it at Windsor Castle the day you visit. I would go early in the day...you have a lot of parks and playgrounds before Windsor Castle. The thing is, those don't close, and Windsor does.

Changing of the Guard at Windsor is on odd days in November. You won't have to queue long, or jostle for a good place. It is much more up close and personal there, and far more enjoyable for a 7.

Budapest, Hungary
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5. Re: Once in a lifetime trip for my son and I. Advice Please

Be prepared for exhaustion to set in on the afternoon of your first day. Seen too many people have grandiose plans for the day of their arrival, only for the lure of their bed to prove too much.

Illinois
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6. Re: Once in a lifetime trip for my son and I. Advice Please

I agree that you are planning too much.

Day 1 - You could probably do St Paul's on this day. I'd plan to get there by 2 or 2:30 at the latest. I usually allow 3 hours for the crypt, main floor, and dome. However, I don't know how interested a 7 year old would be. I think the dome would be the most interesting part - climbing it is really cool. You could probably get through in about 2 hours if you don't spend a lot of time looking at the things in the crypt and the main floor. The Millenium Bridge isn't far from there, and if you cross you will see the Globe Theatre. I'd only look from the outside.

Day 2 - What time is the HP tour? I would allow a minimum of 3 hours for the Tower. We spent 5 on our first trip when my daughter was 10. Do you just want to see Tower Bridge, walk across it, or do the experience?

Day 3 - Move NH museum to this day. Skip CoG. If you want to see a CoG, do the Horse Guards or go to Windsor on a day with CoG. Both are less crowded. Is that a guided walking tour or self guided? When I've been on guided tours with kids your son's age they mostly weren't very interested.

Day 4 - I don't know anything about the Muggle Tours tour - how long is it and what time? Where does it leave from?

Day 5 - I'd move Windsor Castle to this day. It takes a long half day. I'd allow 3h plus transport plus CoG if you decide to do the Windsor one. If weather's good you might want to feed the swans by the river. (LauraRW has good info on Windsor - I've never fed the swans.)

It's probably a 45-60 min walk (with a 7 year old - I'd say 30 for an adult without stopping to look at anything) from London Eye past Parliament (Big Ben) then past Westminster Abbey (allow 2h ish if you want to go in - at 10 my daughter liked the kids trail - she got a free chocolate coin at the gift shop for finishing, but that was in 2008). From there you can walk up Whitehall past Downing St, past the Horse Guards, through St James's Park (there's a playground there at the BP end on the left if you're facing the palace, and kids seem to like the pelicans), to Buckingham Palace. It's a really nice walk, easy to do, and covers a lot. It's better during daylight, though. Not sure where you'd fit it in though.

I'd guess you could do Hamley's one evening when other places are closed and it's dark. Freemason's Hall is sort of near the British Museum, but I've never been there.

You might think about the Treasures at the British Library. It's free and has historic documents, everything from the Magna Carta to original Beatles lyrics. I'd allow an hour for that. It's free. It's relatively near the British Museum but in the other direction from Freemason's Hall.

I've never been to the Grant Museum, so can't comment on whether it's a must see. My daughter has never wanted to got to the Natural History Museum either, so apparently we don't think it's a must see either. Kids reportedly like the dinosaurs, but she's seen dinosaurs here.

Winchelsea, United...
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7. Re: Once in a lifetime trip for my son and I. Advice Please

If you can make your free day a weekend, consider Battle Abbey english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/… It's easy to get to by train from London Bridge.

Mike

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8. Re: Once in a lifetime trip for my son and I. Advice Please

On day two, since Tower of London and Warner Brothers Studio Tour are each best part of a day it's not advisable to combine both on the same day and self evidently putting extra sights on that day is far too much. Don't forget the travel for Warner adds a fair chunk of time.

london
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9. Re: Once in a lifetime trip for my son and I. Advice Please

Speaking from experience when my young nephews visit me in London don't underestimate how tired and bored a 7 year old can get when sightseeing! They also seem to enjoy the oddest thing and find traditional sites pretty boring pretty quickly.

Obviously I have no idea what your son is like/into but things that I found were a hit were:

Just traveling on a double decker bus, sitting on the top deck at the front so it feels like you are driving.

Travelling on the tube and being allowed to stand up whilst holding onto a pole. This NEVER got boring, although they were only allowed to do this when it was quiet:-). Actually just using some of the longer escalators was apparently pretty cool and they loved changing trains at Westminster tube station which is an impressive space"like where spies live"

They loved Hamleys, although a strict spend quota had to be set and also Harrods food hall, as one 7 year old is very much into cooking.

Walking along the southbank and just watching the boats on the river.

They loved the dinosaurs at the natural history museum but found the rest of it kind of dull. They really enjoyed playing with the machines in the science museum and still talk about the mummies at the British museum

Finally at some point each day they just want/need to run!! When you are 7 standing in queues and "just looking at things" can be pretty boring. Try and find somewhere your son can just stretch his legs. The south bank and Hyde park are good for this. The Diana memorial playground is superb so please allow more than a few minutes for your son to play there, if the weather allows.

My nephews love London, but they never seem to like the things you think they will/should like!

Scottsdale, Arizona
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10. Re: Once in a lifetime trip for my son and I. Advice Please

I would recommend the Museum of London and the London Transport Museum for a kid that age. But maybe not in the same day. :-)