The biggest challenge taking kids to London is the sheer volume of things to do and see that can reasonably be squeezed into a single family vacation. Instead of stressing out the family by hitting everything in sight while speeding a stroller (or pram, as they say) down Southbank, slow down. Pare down your choices and arrange a 72-hour itinerary that hits the highlights and leaves some room for flexibility.
Launched in 2000, the London Eye is currently the world’s largest cantilevered observation wheel and has won multiple awards for national and international tourism. Its some 85 awards may not mean much to your kids, but what will really impress them is its towering height of 443 feet over the city that takes a memorable half hour to travel one revolution. The London Eye is also conveniently situated opposite Big Ben and the River Thames for spectacular views and easy access to other attractions.
Kids with medieval history, or just Disney princesses on the brain will delight in the Tower of London’s 900-year-old castle and fortress. This notorious attraction is known for housing the crown jewels and, back in the day, ill-fated prisoners. Unless you’re a history aficionado, parents will likely learn volumes about the history of the area with the famous Beefeaters and historical exhibitions. There’s also an old zoo and the six ravens to explore before taking in spectacular views of London.
South Bank is a playground for kids and families looking to soak up the city and pick and choose activities as they go, or just take a stroll for free. You could spend all day wandering through Southbank and watch the street performers and buskers, rest at the Bernie Spain Gardens and look for children’s events at Gabriel’s Wharf, like seasonal Easter egg hunts and Halloween storytelling.
Westminster Abbey isn’t just a quintessential London attraction everyone should see, it’s also a captivating adventure for kids. Grab a Family Trail to help guide families and children through the Abbey and give them some historical context and meaning behind what they’re seeing and experiencing. For starters, animal statues and color abounds at Westminster Abbey. Free family events and educational programming is common, as well as free days for kids. Plan your visit around a choir performance and light a tea light with a special thought or intention for a loved one.
London is a wonderland of museums, culture and history, but can be exhausting for any traveler. Little ones with a short attention span are no exception. Plan a special stop to refresh at St. James’s Park to see the famous flower beds at the front of Buckingham Palace, feed the resident pelicans that have graced the grounds for 400 years and counting and take a break at St. James’s Cafe. After the kids are refreshed, see the ceremony of the Changing of the Guard at Horse Guards Parade.