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Summer for us means a family vacation.  We love to explore new places and are bringing our kids along, too.  I’ve been meaning to share this Wanderlust Wednesday on London in 4 days for almost a year!  Last summer, we took the girls on a whirlwind tour of London and Paris.  With only 4 days in each city, we could only hit the highlights but did find a few special things I will  share with you, too.  I encourage you to travel with  your children, internationally or in the US.  Just go!  They will love it and you will make some great memories.

Before you go

I always purchase two guides for each city we visit.  This one is compact with great detailed maps and this one has lists of top sites to visit and detailed information on them.  I familiarize myself with the area around our hotel and make a list of the top 10-20 things we want to do and see.  I also review these again on the plane so the info is fresh and we can hit the ground running.  I keep a list in my phone and check it off as we go.

This itinerary and the one on Paris (coming soon!) reflects the top for London.

Itinerary for London in 4 Days

Day One

  • Arrive in London and check in to Ruebens at the Palace (more about this in Stay below).
  • Self-guided walking tour of area to get familiar with our location across from the Royal Muse at Buckingham Palace.  We walked to the London Eye passing Buckingham Palace, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, 5 Downing Street, The Royal Barracks, Big Ben and across the River Thames.
  • London Eye – An enormous Ferris Wheel giving you a bird’s eye view of London.  Must-do!
  • Jubilee Park – A great place to hang out and let the kids run.  Jet-lag was hitting us and we needed some down time.
  • Dinner at Niche  – A great restaurant that happens to be 100% gluten-free.  It features fresh, seasonal food and was one of the best meals we had on the entire trip! I highly recommend this restaurant to everyone not just gluten-free diners.  It is light, bright and very different from pubs on every corner.

Day Two

  • We had breakfast with friends who live in London and we met on our trip to Costa Rica the summer before.  They were amazing hosts and had a gorgeous flat off King’s Row.
  • Victoria and Albert Museum  – Beautiful museum and very doable with a family.  There are wonderful special exhibits that rotate so check their schedule.
  • Harrod’s: Their Food Emporium was amazing!  Such a gorgeous store.  We had lunch at Urban Retreat in the store.
  • Big Bus tour – This isn’t something we’d typically do but it was wonderful!  It began to rain when we left Harrod’s so we purchased tickets and rode around London for 3 1/2 hours in the rain.  It is a hop on, hop off bus tour that takes you all around London.  There are several routes and we changed busses once to see a few things we’d not seen and knew we’d not get a chance.  The guides are full of fabulous and entertaining information on history of London.  You can see their route here.  Highly recommend this!
  • Dinner at Bistro 51 around the corner from the hotel.  Good if you want a “nice dinner.”

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Day Three

  • Churchill War Rooms – It was amazing to be in the actual bunker where Churchill coordinated the British support of WWII.  The exhibit about his life in one section is interactive and great for all ages.  Truly a must-do.
  • Westminster Abby – This is so much more than were a church where British Royalty get married or have funerals.  It is full of history and each King or Queen has a section where their family story is told and their crypt.  The beauty is stunning.
  • Notting Hill  and Churchill Arms for lunch – We rode the tube to this charming area to have lunch at a popular pub friends had told me about.  The food is amazing and the atmosphere so charming.  Plants and flowers grow everywhere…I mean everywhere…including the restrooms!
  • Kensington Palace and Gardens – We did the self-guided tour so that we could go at our own pace.  It was fun to see the public rooms and museum where Prince William and Princess Kate live.  The retrospective of royal gowns and other designs, including many of Princess Diana’s, was beautiful. We didn’t happen to see them but many visitors do.  The gardens are also beautiful and the girls loved the merry go round.  There is also a fabulous playground for kids of all ages.
  • Lion King – We’d never seen this show and were entranced with the great costumes.  Great to be in the famous

Day Four

  • Tour of Shakespeare’s Globe – (check times and dates available before you go.)
  • Changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace – Here’s a tip for you…although the changing of the guard occurs at 11a, people begin lining up more than two hours prior.  We watched from the side and really thought this was a great location.  The Guards came right up to us!
  • Tower of London – Where it truly all began in London.  We did the walking tour with a hand-held audio guide so we could go at our own pace.  The Crown Jewels exhibit is here as well and like nothing you’ll ever see!
  •  Rosetta Stone at British Museum – Well, we would have liked to spend more time in the museum but were surprising the girl with another musical so we had just a few minutes.  When we asked what do you want to see with the 45 minutes we have to fill, our oldest said, “The Rosetta Stone!”  So we truly walked in, laid our eyes on it and had to leave.
  •  Tea at Fortnum and Mason – I cannot recommend highly enough Tea at Fortnum and Mason.  It was a gorgeous salon and had wonderful gluten-free and nut-free options for us.  Their service was amazing and we put it to the test for certain.  As we arrived at the theater, we realized the girls had left two shopping bags of souvenirs under the table.  I called the store  and they kindly shipped it to us at home (since we were on the way to Paris in the morning) for no charge.  Amazing!
  • Wicked – Always a great show and so fun to see and the girls all loved it!

We left early the next morning early for a flight to Paris with wonderful memories of London!

Stay

Ruebens at the Palace

Our girls were 14, 11 and 7 so a central location was very important to us for walking to our destinations as was connecting rooms or a family suite.  The Reubens had a great set up for this.  We were at the end of a hallway and had a door that closed to create a small hallway between our rooms.  It was an idea set up.  They also had a full breakfast each morning with something for everyone.

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Eat

Fortnum & Mason – Tea at the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon is a must!  It was opened by HM The Queen and is a stylish destination. They easily accommodated our food allergies and served us beautiful and tasty food.  The atmosphere is elegant but comfortable.  The store is filled with gorgeous treats in their Food Hall, as well.  I wish we had had the time to buy a “hamper” filled with everything we needed for a picnic.  Fun that they will ship to the US for about $25!  Hmmm, I think I need one!

Niche  – A great restaurant that happens to be 100% gluten-free.  It features fresh, seasonal food and was one of the best meals we had on the entire trip! I highly recommend this restaurant to everyone not just gluten-free diners.  It is light, bright and very different from pubs on every corner.

Churchill Arms – This popular pub in Knotting Hill serves amazing Thai food.  The atmosphere so charming we were mesmerized.  Plants and flowers grow everywhere…I mean everywhere…including the restrooms!  The staff were friendly and easily accommodated our food allergies.

Harrod’s Food Hall – This is a great place to pick up something for lunch and eat there or at a near by park.

 

A few other places you could fit in on the morning we saw friends:

Hyde Park – Paddle around the lake and head to Speaker’s Corner to see who is on their “soap box” that day.

Buckingham Palace – check the schedule.  Tours are available when the Queen is not in residence.

Shopping on King’s Road and Covent Garden

If we were headed on a city tour this summer, I’d be packing these – a few I had last year and I few I wish I’d had:

I know there are many more places in London to see but these were top of our list.  I’d love to know what is top of yours, too.

Happy Summer Travels!

xo

Alicia

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