I traveled to London with my twin boys, age nine, and my mom for Spring Break this year and while I was super excited to take them, I had reservations that they might be too young to fully appreciate it. I was picturing a lot of whining, boredom, pestering, and just general kid behavior that would have bummed me out after traveling 4000 miles.

I am happy to report that although there was some in each category (i.e. whining and I’m bored), they thoroughly enjoyed the trip — including the two days that we went on four hour tours of the sights.

I underestimated how thrilled they would be with the culture shock: British accents and the general cool-ness of London – the taxis, the historical buildings, the parks – they both really loved the experience.

All that aside I am convinced that what made the trip for both the kids and adults was the “Blue Badge Guide” who led our tours. A lovely young man named Danny was our guide for our two full days of seeing the sights. He explained to us that there are only 800 or so total Blue Badge guides in London and to earn this prestigious badge awarded by the Institute of Tourist Guiding, you must undergo approximately two years of training and exams to qualify.

Both boys said that our guide was by far the best part of our trip. Danny was great with children, immediately sensing when they were losing interest and finding some other tidbit to keep them engaged. We were able to pack in so many sights in our five day visit – having the guide helped us navigate the city with ease and efficiency. (Note: we used an amazing travel agent to help plan our trip).

There were a few things I would do differently next time (live and learn) so I wanted to mention those for you here. There are so many things to experience in London and I am definitely looking forward to a return visit.

Our itinerary is listed for you below. I will put together our shopping, restaurant and cocktails spots next – I hope you enjoy!

Places We Visited and Loved:

  • Tower Bridge: Your kids will love this one but the adults enjoyed it as well – there’s a glass floor, a steam engine room and other cool features, including a very interesting history lesson. The view is phenomenal and it is a quick trip with your Blue Badge Guide.
  • Tower of London – The Crown Jewels are here and the guided tour is very engaging and worthwhile. There is a lot of Henry VIII history and the boys loved learning about him (cue the boy humor about the real meaning of “crown jewels”).
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral – So much history here, including one very famous wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana. CLIMB THE 528 STAIRS to the Dome – it was one of the most fun parts of our trip by far – for me as well! Do not miss it – it is so exhilarating!
  • Borough Market – Amazing food market with so much to see; try to plan your visit here after a tour so that you can have lunch at one of the pubs or in the market itself. Our Blue Badge Guide suggested to my son that he try fish and chips which he did and loved – of course if I had recommended it, he wouldn’t have!
  • Soccer at Hyde Park – within walking distance of Claridge’s – a huge plus and a highlight for one of my sons. Our travel agent suggested that I pack a soccer ball for this purpose – such a smart idea.
  • Westminster Abbey – The Abbey has been the coronation church since 1066, and is the final resting place of 17 monarchs. The church was begun by Henry III in 1245. A great tour with so much to see and learn. The Royal Coronation Chair is here along with many famous tombs. Plus it is where Prince William and Princess Kate were married.
  • St. James’s Park — One of the great things about London is their parks. Walking through St. James’s’ Park was such a fun activity – we fed the ducks, admired the flowers and nature, got a snack and a coffee at the adorable shop at the edge of the park.
  • Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guards – You can only visit the inside of Buckingham Palace a few times during the year but of course you must go and see it and try to plan it at the same time as the Changing of the Guard ceremony. My boys really loved this and it doesn’t last too long.
  • Churchill War Rooms – this is another sight that I worried about taking the boys to but was pleasantly surprised at how much they enjoyed it and how much they learned. If you have not ever been here before, you should definitely check it out, especially if you have any interest at all in WWII. “Walk the top-secret corridors of Churchill War Rooms and glimpse what life would have been like during the tense days and nights of the Second World War.” My son came home with a Churchill poster that now hangs on his wall alongside his football posters.


  • Fortnum & Mason – This should technically be on the shopping list but I loved it so much I had to include it here too as a sightseeing must. Even if you buy nothing, it is worth going just to see the store itself. “First founded in London’s Piccadilly in 1707, we are proud to have remained an essential destination for anyone in search of extraordinary food, exceptional service and joy-giving things ever since.”
  • Mamma Mia! – This was by far one of the MOST fun things we did on our trip. We were up dancing with the entire audience at the end and it was such a joy to experience. Even if you don’t like Abba (but I mean, who doesn’t) I would highly recommend going to see a show while you’re in London. It was nice to have a different experience at night other than going out to dinner. (Tip: I played the soundtrack for a few weeks before we left but didn’t tell them why so they ended up knowing all the songs when we got there – which made it more fun).
  • High Tea at The Goring, The Ritz, or Claridge’s – this is a great activity for all ages. Tea and cakes for the children; champagne for the adults. If you can’t make it for tea, try to go for drinks to one or all of these hotels. In my opinion there is nothing like a luxury London hotel.
  • Train Ride to the Cotswolds – My boys wanted to ride a train so this is the activity we settled on, but visiting the Cotswolds is not for everyone. Full disclosure, there is not a lot to do once you get there. The shopping is touristy and the villages are a little sleepy, however, the architecture and landscapes are really fun to see. It is important to make sure you go to a town that has some amount of activity. We went to Bourton-on-the-Water but only because I had been before did I know that you could take a bus from the train station and back. There was an adorable shop called Bakery on the Water where we stopped for a treat, fed the ducks, walked around and then it was time to go home. Mission accomplished.

I regret that I did not get to visit Amanda Brooks’ store, Cutter Brooks, in nearby Stow-on-the-Wold. Next time.

Places We Didn’t Have Time To Visit But Wish We Had:

  • Chelsea Football Club Stadium — This was closed due to the Russian sanctions in place but friends have recommended this tour as a great option for your soccer players and sports fans.
  • Hampton Court Palace — We were short on time this trip but I LOVE Hampton Court Palace, one of the many homes of Henry VIII and all six of his wives. This is also a quick and easy train ride from London and you don’t necessarily need a tour guide – the audio guides give a nice overview. The royal kitchen was a highlight for me.
  • Stratford-upon-Avon – I visited Shakespeare’s birthplace once before and wish I had gone back on this trip. The ride was beautiful and I think it would have been an interesting tour for us but again, we were strapped for time.
  • Windsor Castle — Founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, Windsor Castle has since been the home of 39 monarchs. I would love to plan a visit on a future trip.
  • The British Museum – I have also never visited this museum, and friends have recommended it as an excellent place to go for ancient history.

Places We Went to That I Could Have Changed or Skipped:

  • Hamleys Toy Store — My boys enjoyed visiting Hamley’s but if you are short on time, skip it.
  • Harrods — Don’t get me wrong, Harrods is amazing so if you have time you should definitely visit and enjoy (especially the food hall), but if you are short on time and want the experience, go to Fortnum & Mason instead.
  • London Eye: This is another one that I am glad we did but if we had not had the time, I could have cut it out. It is iconic and neat, but the truth is it is also slow and crowded. If you go, splurge and get the fast pass tickets – it is definitely not worth standing in line all day for.

Plus, if there was one fashion takeaway from London, it is that everyone is wearing sneakers (a.k.a. “trainers”), all the time, everywhere, with every outfit. A few options below:

Tower Bridge was the first stop on our sightseeing tour.
Our tour guide Danny telling us the history of the bridge.
The inner workings of the Tower Bridge.
Silliness is encouraged inside the Tower Bridge.
The Tower of London is a great place to visit.
Of course the boys loved trying to make the soldier laugh.
A blue door inside the Tower of London indicates that a “Yeoman Warder” lives there.
Henry VIII armour.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Our guide told us that Princess Diana’s train was as tall as the entrance to St. Paul’s.
Don’t miss this!
Keep going…
and going…
We Made It!
Borough Market is a great place to go with all age groups. Make sure to go closer to the weekend when more booths and shops are open.
I am not sure who is buying this but it is fun to look at.
Fortnum and Mason was one of my favorite stops on our trip.
Plan to spend a lot of time here. There is so much to see and it is the best place to buy souvenirs for friends and family.
Treats to take back to classmates from Fortnum and Mason.
The Goring is where Kate Middleton supposedly dressed for her wedding to Prince William.
The Goring is so lovely.
Word puzzles kept the boys entertained while we waited for the tea and treats.
An old pro.
My Heart.
A bonus of going to The Goring: Hide and Go Seek in the courtyard after tea time.
Swans, birds, ducks and beauty abound in St. James’s Park.
A walk through the park – no filter.
Westminster Abbey
Can’t you just hear the choir boys?
Hello, friend.
Thomas awarded the honor of wearing the Blue Badge for answering a question correctly!
On the walk to Hyde Park from Claridge’s
Soccer with new friends from Dubai in Hyde Park – soccer is the international language for “let’s be friends”.
We all loved the train ride. See notes above to make sure you have a great experience in the Cotswolds.
Relaxing ride out to the countryside. There’s a lovely snack cart and wifi. Ahhh.
Favorite quote of the trip, “Mommy it looks like all the shows you watch”. May I refer you here.
Worth the trip alone – freshly made cakes, pastries, scones, bread, pizza, soup, and all the delicious British things.
Tea, a drink with jam and bread.
Amanda Brooks’ store in Stow-on-the-Wold, Cutter Brooks.
Mamma Mia! Dancing Queens (and princes).
The London Eye
Feelin my touristy Mom-style in Veronica Beard trainers and Marfa Stance jacket.
To the utter delight of my son, there was a light dusting of snow when we were out walking one morning – London is so much fun! Don’t wait to go.

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