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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

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

poynders' post reminds me do try to get along to Millbank (where some spies live) and look over the river to the lego like Vauxhall Cross (where most spies live and featured in James Bond - it's where M lives).

If you then need culture, walk on to Tate Britain but it is only pictures of things.

Fredericksburg, VA
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12. Re: Once in a lifetime trip for my son and I. Advice Please

My son really enjoyed the HMS Belfast when he was 9. You could scramble up and down ladders, etc., so there was a lot more "doing" than "looking".

I agree with the other posters that you've put in too much. I don't know your child, but my son wasn't that thrilled with museums. They were ok in short doses (and thankfully most in London are free, so you can just dart in and out when boredom sets in). He loved running around in Hyde Park, feeding the various waterfowl and meeting Londoner's dogs.

We were there in summer, and stayed near the park, so we planned time in the evenings where he could just go unwind on playground equipment or just running around and blowing off steam.

Another favorite activity was the Tower of London. I expected us to spend about 2-3 hours there, but we spent more like 5 hours. That was one of his favorite places. He also enjoyed the Tower Bridge exhibit. We had read a book about the ravens at the ToL before we came to London, and he spent quite awhile just watching the birds. He also enjoyed riding around on the double decker buses, much more than the tube. And Hamley's was a definite hit.

As poynders says, it will surprise you what your son enjoys, so be flexible!

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

You mention having a day out of town. A seven year old will probably enjoy the atmosphere of a big railway terminus to see the trains, and have a short ride out - lots of interesting places to go. Brighton might suit as he could see the sea and beach

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

At what time have you booked the HP tour? Our Warner Brothers Studio Tour is at 6:00 PM and it is on a Sunday.

The Guard change at Buckingham Palace involves a great deal of standing around for a small payoff; Sounds like we should skip this sight.

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. Great suggestion, love the Christmas decorations

Where have you booked to stay near the Tower? DoubleTree by Hilton hotel London - Tower of London

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

Thank you everyone for the thorough answers and the time you spent helping me. I will certainly be making some adjustments to my plans. I think it will really help our trip as well.

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

If your son is into Harry Potter - then Kings Cross railway station for platform 9 3/4 of course - and do a bit of trainspotting too. Get the tube there, of course, for the experience.

United Kingdom
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17. Re: Once in a lifetime trip for my son and I. Advice Please

Post 9 poynders is right, for a 7 year old boy unexpected small things will be what makes this trip memorable for him, all the things suggested (and to drop) I would agree with.

For your son to keep interested also consider doing the following:

You are staying near the Tower, take a ride on a DLR driverless train and sit right at the front; it will be as if he is the driver.

Give him a ticket (yours) to put through the slot to open the gates at tube stations.

Climb the Monument which is not far from Tower Hill (opposite Monument station) 311 steps to the top climb on to the ledge and walk around. You get a certificate to say you’ve climbed the steps.

Take a ride on the London Eye (if good visibility) don’t just walk past it.

Ride an Emirates cable car across the Thames.

Walk right under the River Thames through the foot tunnel at Island Gardens/Cutty Sark

Riding Jubilee line escalators at large cavern- like stations such as Canary Wharf and Westminster, and (at these stations) seeing platforms that have sliding doors as well as the trains.

Agree about riding the top of a normal bus as well.

United Kingdom
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18. Re: Once in a lifetime trip for my son and I. Advice Please

And something involving food should keep his interest, he might enjoy noisy, brassiere type places or fish and chips served on a wooden board or seeing proper cakes and sandwiches on tiered plate stands.

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

I think it's terrific you have the Grant Museum of Zoology on your list because most people don't know or even think about it. It's the only place in London I've ever reviewed for this reason. Even though it says "museum", it is really only the size of a small flat. However, super interesting specimens and great for budding zoologists. Also good advice about opening/closing times - need to check ahead of time as its hours are limited because grad students still conduct their work there. It's also close to the British Museum so you might want to combine those two for logistics.

At 7, I would also consider going to the Science Museum because the interactive floor which also features demos/shows are great for kids that age. It's right by the Natural History Museum so you can head on over once your child has had his fill at NHM.

Most kids do love getting on the London Eye so that's something else to consider. Many great castles out of town to consider. Friends went recently and enjoyed Leeds Castle, but did say it's a little too theme park atmosphere. Bodiam is another favourite.

Edited: 19 October 2013, 20:25
Israel
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20. Re: Once in a lifetime trip for my son and I. Advice Please

Maybe it's just me, but I wouldn't dream of taking a child to Hamleys. Unless you have absolutely unlimited amounts of money to spend, how are you going to cope with "Oh, I want that!" with just about everything he sees?

As already said, it's often the little things (and things that cost little or nothing) that children like best: riding in the front of a Docklands Light Railway train, and upstairs on a double-decker bus (if you don't have them where you live), and so on.

Skip Stonehenge. It is a long way out of London, and unless you (and the child) are really interested in Neolithic remains, it's totally underwhelming.

I took my nephew to see HMS Belfast when he was eight. He was a bright child, above average for his age, but he had absolutely no interest in it because he was really too young. Much cheaper than the London Eye is the Emirates Air Line (cable car across the river). I did it last week and it was wonderful.

Lauren, I went to the Grant Museum of Zoology when I was in London last week. I had no idea it existed until I saw it mentioned on this forum (presumably by you), and I loved it. (I'm originally a Londoner.)