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London- what to do with the dcs (10,7,3) for 4 days?

(37 Posts)
bramblina Tue 12-Jan-16 14:03:01

Any advice most welcome, I just booked flights last night for Easter hols, we plan Legoland (tell me, 1 day or 2?) and friends in Oxford but for the other days I think London city.

So far my thoughts are;
Natural History Museum
Science Museum
Tower of London
London Eye
Hop-on-hop-off bus to see Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus etc.

We live in the far north of Scotland, rurally, so it's a great culture experience for the kids!

We also need accommodation, and are thinking of Prenier Inn, simply for £ and we know what we'll get but would love an apartment of anyone knows of any for a similar price?

We think we'll use train/tube for the the first half then hire a car for Legoland/Oxford- any advice on car hire would be great too.


bramblina Tue 12-Jan-16 22:19:04

Tigresswoods Tue 12-Jan-16 22:24:04

I reckon 2 days for LL.

London- the less obvious things are:

Greenwich. Lovely part of London. There's the maritime museum & the Cutty Sark.

I'd also say just go & "be" at Borough Market. It's beautiful & there's so much interesting food on offer.

The Peter Pan themed playground in Kensington Gardens is brilliant. Let your older 2 look after each other & keep an eye on your little one. Bliss.


bramblina Tue 12-Jan-16 23:35:18

Ah, thank you! These are things I did not know about!

Artandco Wed 13-Jan-16 07:07:39

It would be cheaper to stay in Windsor the night you are in legoland.

The science and history museums will be very busy. Doing both in one day is probably too much. They open 10-6pm, it's best to go in either 10-11am or after 4pm during holidays. Same with the park in Kensington gardens, they have security and a maximum number so need to get there around 10am when it opens or later as you may have to que and wait otherwise

DoodleCat Wed 13-Jan-16 07:12:32

British Museum too, Family Desk in the Great Court has free trails and backpacks. The Egyptian mummies are the most popular exhibits but there's lots of other interesting, less busy, galleries.

If you go to Natural History Museum and use Twitter they have a separate feed that has visitor info which lists queue times. If you wanted to see the dinosaurs I think you can buy ticket in advance and jump the queue.

FunkyPeacock Wed 13-Jan-16 07:18:18

I would say 1 day is plenty for Legoland - it's great but I can't imagine spending 2 days there!

The open top bus tour is a good idea as if you get a hop on hop off ticket you can use this as a way to see lots of the big sights without walking for miles and miles

My kids enjoyed a boat tour on the Thames

If you have the money then Matilda the musical is amazing

IfItsGoodEnough4ShirleyBassey Wed 13-Jan-16 07:18:34

I'd stay in Windsor the night before you go to Legoland, definitely, and probably the night after as well. The key to a good Legoland experience is to be banging on the door before they open to get the most popular rides out of the way ASAP. If you have the budget for it the Legoland hotel makes for a more enjoyable experience all round - if you don't then just pick a cheap local hotel with a Legoland deal. I personally would do two days but my family are all Lego obsessives.

IfItsGoodEnough4ShirleyBassey Wed 13-Jan-16 07:26:39

I agree that a Clipper up the river is cheapish and essential. Greenwich is lovely but would take a full day which you might want to prioritise elsewhere.
Try booking a trip up the Skygarden for a fantastic free view (you'll need a prebooked slot, they go fast, and photo ID)

The Monument, the Skygarden, a tour of the Tower of London, across Tower Bridge, and back along the South Bank past HMS Belfast into Borough Market for a snack and carrying on West looking at stuff until your feet fall off would be an excellent day.

MNWestminsterCityEd Wed 20-Jan-16 11:01:37

Try our MN Local site for Westminster & City, which has thousands of listings including attractions, restaurants and a What's On guide that covers Easter activities/events in central London:

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Wed 20-Jan-16 12:01:04

Book the Nat His Mus and get there early. Even with the booking you will need to queue to get in, and queue again inside for the dinos. So I would recommend an early ticket.

If you can, bring an umbrella style stroller for the 3yo. Mine can walk for miles but they get very tired and with London crowds etc it can be a bit overwhelming. It's handy to have somewhere to dump coats etc anyway and most of the big museums have a pram park too if the 3yo is perky. People will always give you a hand on the underground so don't worry about that. It's faster to help someone than leave them standing at the top of stairs creating a roadblock.

London is expensive, even if you have plenty of cash it can add up to a hefty figure by the end of a week. I think a family ticket for the Tower is almost £60 so keep your eyes peeled for deals.

Queues for places like Madame Tussauds and the Aquarium are horrible. The former is over-rated and expensive, the latter is quite good but very dark and claustrophobic when it's packed so again it's worth being there very early on a timed ticket.

Clipper boat down the Thames to Greenwich always goes down well with kids, it's also a useful route back if you want to get there early via the train and give them a break on the way back. Probably 30 mins I think back to Waterloo. The Maritime museum is free unless you go to a special exhibition but they are usually excellent. There is a large childrens gallery and usually special events in the museum and the Cutty Sark over half terms and holidays. The Cutty Sark and the Observatory are pricier so it is worth looking at a combined family ticket that does all three and make a full day of it. Nice children's playground in the park too. Greenwich market is Tues-Sun but the main shopping days are Thu-Sun with more of an antiques collectables Tue-Thu though that's worth checking. Some nice shops around the market if you can wangle 30 mins to yourself.

One other option is to take the DLR train [driverless usually so kids can sit in the front seat] back into the City via Canary Wharf. Museum of Docklands and Museum of Childhood are both free and on the way back with a small walk so if you wanted to keep the day free of £££ you could just do the Maritime Museum, v early lunch, then MoD or MoC on the way home.

Trick is to avoid rush hour 4-6 where you can on some of the key lines particularly if you have a pram, but watch for where the doors will open and just wait for the next train if you do. Central [Red], Northern [Black] and Jubilee [grey] tend to be the worst. Either end of the train - so end of platforms tend to be the emptiest carriages. Plan to get some food if you run late and with kids it's easier not to pack out their day too much. London tends to leave them wide eyed and dragging their feet while they look around so you will only drive yourself nuts if you are desperate to keep to a packed schedule.

ThruUlikeAshortcut Wed 20-Jan-16 12:56:02

Hop on Hop off bus brilliant idea

Science museum is more fun than the NHM - they have lots of interatctive experimental things for children so I would go there first, then see how much time you have left, pop in to the NHM to see the dinosaurs. There is a side entrance to the NHM next to the science museum so pop in there as the queue is shorter!

Second the Diana Playground in Hyde park - All your children will enjoy it and you get to sit and watch them while sipping a cappuccino grin

If the weather is warm look at the Serpentine or Diana fountains in Hyde Park.

Has anyone mentioned the London Transport museum in Covent Garden?

From Covent Garden you can walk down the Strand, over Waterloo Bridge for amazing views, then onto the Southbank which has a playground and lots of acts performing along the river. Just walking along the river bank is fun, especially if the tide is out!

If you are coming in to Paddington there are loads of good hotels, from budget chains to exclusive boutiques, just do a search on hotels in the W2 area.

mamaslatts Wed 20-Jan-16 13:06:59

You could do Legoland in 1 or 2 days - if you did 1 day could you afford Q-bots? You won't have to waste time waiting around then.

Premier inn or travel lodge would be a good plan - think there's one at kings x, not greatest location but really central.

My main piece of advice as a local is don't try and do too much! The science museum and natural history and next to each other and some people try and do both but this is far too much. Whatever museum you go to, buy food beforehand/pack lunch as all the cafes are now massively expensive (think £5 for one sandwich).

Transport museum is great and you can mooch around Covent Garden also. The only thing to remember is adults to have to pay to get in (can't remember cost about £13) but there are lots of buses/trains etc for them to explore.

I probably wouldn't do British museum, it is fab but I don't think it is particularly child friendly and I reckon the 3 yo would be really bored.

It might also be worth looking into a show, there's often stuff like Gruffolo, stick man, aliens love underpants on which would be suitable for the younger two and maybe if there are two adults the other could take the 10 yo to cinema in Leicester square.

Also the London eye is quite good for all ages. Other options are the Zoo (lovely) or one of the big parks -Regents, Hyde or St James if you fancy a picnic. have a great time!

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Wed 20-Jan-16 13:22:01

Worth also checking the contents of the Ashmolean in Oxford? If they have a good display of X then try not to duplicate it in London.

Yes - def the side entrance to the NHM. You have to use it if you have prebooked anyway. Downstairs in the Science Museum is v good for small kids.

It might be worth looking at the Premier Inn type places in the City / other business district hotels as loads of people take time off in school holidays and you can often get cheaper rates. Obv no business travellers on weekends either.

SchnitzelVonKrumm Wed 20-Jan-16 13:56:32

Tricky spread of ages for museums - basement at the Science Museum is fab for tinies if you have two adults and can split up. Diana memorial playground ace. Greenwich is fab and they would all like the children's gallery at the maritime museum - could fill a whole day there easily with parks, Cutty Sark, pub lunch on the river, Observatory etc. and Thames Clipper journey is cool. The Golden Hinde at Bankside is great interactive fun (pretend to be a pirate) and you can mooch down the Southbank and have lunch at Borough Market. Tower of London not that interesting for younger kids IME and it's a long tour. Transport Museum is great (drive a tube train) and there's always free street entertainment in Covent Garden. Dinosaurs at NHM hugely overrated and it will be packed so go early if you're going. Tussauds rubbish, aquarium pricey and tatty. My children love the London Eye but pay the extra for fast-track. National Gallery has really good audio headsets with trails for children and they are very good value - maybe not for the three year old but they do have storytelling sessions for little ones on Sundays if you can split up

SchnitzelVonKrumm Wed 20-Jan-16 14:02:45

Wouldn't do the zoo (Whipsnade, out of town, is much better) but Kew Gardens is wonderful if the weather's good - children love the Treetop Walk and good indoor and outdoor play areas.

SchnitzelVonKrumm Wed 20-Jan-16 14:04:00

The Duck Tour on the river always goes down well with our small visitors too.

bramblina Wed 20-Jan-16 22:30:53

Thank you all ever so much, this is wonderful.

I think the eye is £75 for us, I think if so this is quite pricey. Ds and I did this when he was 1 (he is now 10), not sure it's worth the £75. Am I right?

hadn't considered DLR and Greenwich so will now look in to that, thank you. My family and I had 2 weeks in London when I was 10 (think the DLR was quite new!) and we went on this, really enjoyed it.

Interesting to hear about the over-rated-ness of the dinos. With the varied ages of the dcs I thought this would be a must and would impress them all...I hope I'm right! Can't believe it will be queued out.....sad

I'm getting so excited. Really need to begin with an itinerary.....thank you all for your help!!!

SchnitzelVonKrumm Wed 20-Jan-16 22:58:50

Maybe overrated is unfair grin. Kids do love to see them but you can queue for an hour or more to get in, it's very crowded, and unless they are old enough read all the labels, you'll be in and out in half an hour. But maybe it's one of those things you just have to do.

Jojay Wed 20-Jan-16 23:06:56

I've taken mine to London a couple of times and the things that they remembered and talked about the most were the street performers in Covent Garden, and the M&M shop on Leicester Square😁

BrieAndChilli Wed 20-Jan-16 23:18:09

With 3 children we found it cheaper to hire an apartment then to have 2 travel lodge rooms (as they will only allow 4 per room so you will need to book 2) we rented an apartment and so had kitchen etc so saved money on food etc and could store packed lunch stuff etc.

bramblina Wed 20-Jan-16 23:27:25

Thank you- shock hope we're not disappointed with the NHM but i really think we should see the dinos. M&M shop....?! None of us are particular fans of M&Ms but it sounds like it's worth a look!!

Brie, I find that now too but PremierInn will allow 3 children- 2 single beds plus a cot. Cot is meant for 2yo or under so I just say nothing, age is not asked on booking form so not really a problem. Ds doesn't mind in the slightest! FYI that's handy if your wee one is still wee.

ThruUlikeAshortcut Wed 20-Jan-16 23:32:13

Use the side entrance to the NHM - it's right next to the science museum's entrance and hardly any queues.

ThruUlikeAshortcut Wed 20-Jan-16 23:33:45

This is a good website

cheval Thu 21-Jan-16 00:04:46

If I had a short time in capital with young ones, I would jump on to buses to see Big Ben, Buck palace etc, a river trip to see it all sitting down, London eye if you fancy seeing it from another dimension.
Science museum is fab, as is natural history museum, but you can't do it all. Choose one, and aim to see just one bit of it properly.
One day at legoland is more than enough. Oh and things like borough market are not for little ones. Over rated for older ones too. But a stroll past there and down the Thames, past the globe and wacky street artists is always entertaining.

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