November 26, 2012 in Inspiration
People have been asking lately what we recommend in various places for kids and families. So we’re going to peck away at a series of articles that are mini-guides with our particular recommendations for specific destination cities. Of course these won’t be comprehensive, nor should they be treated like a check list, they’re just the things we did and enjoyed in a particular place. By all means, do your own research, leave your guidebook in your hotel room, and go out and let adventure find you!!
Let’s start with London
Why? Because that’s where our journey of full time travel started.
We flew our bicycles to London and spent a glorious sun filled week in the city before we struck out, north, on our wheels and it rained on us for pretty much the entire month.
Who in their right mind starts a cycling journey on an island known for rain, in April?
Who indeed? But, I digress.
London is a fantastic place to explore with kids.
We started there for the following reasons:
- Very little jet lag (it’s only a 6 hr. difference off of EST)
- Very little culture shock (they speak English!)
- Loads of culture
- Loads of history (since the Brits colonized widely their museums are well endowed)
- A great place to get our feet on the ground in a new lifestyle with minimal trauma.
Places we would not miss and we urge you not to miss either:
- The Tower of London: uber touristy, but still fantastic
- The Victoria & Albert: seriously, one of the best museums we’ve ever been to
- The Imperial War Museums: fantastic overview of the military conflicts in Europe, especially for kids.
- Westminster Abbey: don’t just wander through on a tour, attend a service there, the history absolutely hangs in the air while the boys choir sings. Beyond fantastic.
- Pack a Picnic: It sounds weird, but London is a great place to picnic. We lunched in a courtyard within the British Museum, with a lovely fountain for the kids to wade in. There are numerous green spaces and (if it’s not raining!) it might be just the downtime your kids need before they explore another museum!
Many of the museums in London are free, or free for children, which makes it an exceptionally great place to go as a family!
Where to stay in London is a bit of a conundrum, especially since most European hotels are set up for only two people to a room and “family” is defined by the addition of one small cot to an already overstuffed room to add your singleton in. We have four kids, you might have noticed.
We were lucky and stayed with friends who generously redecorated their floor space to accommodate our oversized herd. We’ve since discovered fully furnished apartment rentals if we’re going to be staying a while. But if you’re going for a week, like we did, and you need someplace that is family friendly AND centrally located, you might check out Travelodge’s Euston Hotel. It’s right across the street from the Euston underground station, and “family room” by their definition, sleeps four, which means our family would only need two, instead of three rooms. They also don’t supply toiletries… sounds weird, right, but I actually think it’s great. If you forget something, they’ll give it to you free, but they don’t slam chemically laden, packaging heavy toiletries that no one likes anyway in every room by course of habit. That’s an environmental win in my book.
Public transit in London is easy with kids. The underground is fantastic and economical. It goes almost everywhere you want to be.
Don’t miss out on riding one of the famous double decker busses, for an experience the kids will talk about forever.
Walk. London’s downtown area is very walkable. If your kids are particularly little, you might not be up for the long walk along the Thames, but to me, a city is best seen from it’s sidewalks and slowing down enough to really feel, with your feet, where you are is a great way to learn.
What to Eat:
- Fish and Chips, that’s obvious.
- Kippers for breakfast: they’re like “bacon fish” according to our boys
- Bangers and Mash: sausage and potatoes
- A Doner: find a street vendor and buy one; eat it for us. They’re not “British” but they are to die for
- Proper Tea: It won’t be hard to find a tea room serving scones, clotted cream and the whole bit. Watching our boys try to manage the decorum was kinda funny.
- Penguins: Ezra says to have a Penguin for him, they’re a chocolate bar. 🙂