We usually spend a weekend in London every Summer, visiting our favourite 'old haunts' as a family and discovering new wonders to add to the list. This usually happens in June when I attend the Britmums blogging conference, but this year I went up solo and so we're consequently trying to find the time in the holidays to fit in a 'tourist' weekend in the capital.
- Our absolute 'must' place to visit every time is the London Eye. If you can get yourself organised enough to be there for opening hours, then the queue is relatively short and fast moving and within ninety minutes then it's possible to have had a 'flight' on the Eye and to have watched the 4D film inside the tourist centre. It's included in the price of the tickets and is in no way an afterthought or pointless addition. We really ducked out of the way of the flying seagulls, wispy clouds and gasped at the colourful carnival.
- For a cheaper (or free) alternative to the Eye, there are an abundance of museums and galleries which are a joy to explore. The Museum of Childhood, The National Portrait Gallery and the Natural History Museum are all wonderful and free museums to while away several hours, and explore the culture and history of our country.
- The Boy and Mr. TBaM have taken the Docklands Light Railway to the National Maritime Museum and the Cutty Sark before and really enjoyed 'driving' the train. Over the Summer there is an exhibition of 'Ships, Clocks & Stars' which explores the journey to understand latitude and longtitude.
- London Science Museum have the most amazing explosive family theatre for curious minds over part of the Summer holidays. The Energy Show will be on between the 22nd of July and the 3rd of August. The show is both educational and great fun this summer for kids aged 7+. Methane bubbles are set alight to make fireballs, liquid nitrogen freezes flowers, hydrogen balloons explode and rockets are fired into the audience. Stand well back and cover your ears – theatre just got dangerously exciting!
- We have two favourite restaurants to eat in, one is The Rainforest Cafe which offers a great children's menu with quick service and good quality cooking. It's wonderful setting, if not a little crowded and noisy, especially with the animatronic animals and thunderstorms in the canopies. The other restaurant which was a recent discovery was Vapiano, an Italian self-service fast food eatery which cooks food freshly and to order. The fact that everything is cooked to order means that meals can be tailored to a children's tastes and the novelty factor is highly entertaining.
- Of course, visiting London and fitting everything in is easiest done when staying overnight in a reasonable hotel suitable for a family. It can be quite tricky to find a suitable area for families. In the past we've stayed in the City (very quiet on weekends when the banks etc. are closed), and in Kensington close to the museums. The Holiday Inn London Kensington Forum is just a matter of minutes away from the Science and the Natural History Museums, while the Holiday Inn London Regents Park and the Holiday Inn London Bloomsbury are just a fifteen minute taxi ride away.
- Finally the wonderful parks are definitely worth a visit. Regents Park is home to London Zoo, Hyde Park houses the absolutely wonderful Kensington Gardens, home to the Diana Memorial Playground and Fountain; a must for cooling off on a hot Summer's day.
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