London

London in August was a breath of fresh air compared to the heat we had in North Carolina.  The crisp air, the changing leaves, need I say more?  We spent four nights in London and could have spent several more – we loved this city and there is SO much to do!

That being said – I will advise that London was not terribly stroller friendly.  We used the Tube as our primary transportation and there are select stops with elevators, but not many.  I would recommend a stroller that folds up easily or is light weight.  Thankfully the people in London were incredibly helpful to us and would kindly volunteer to carry the stroller with my husband 🙂

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I have compiled a list of the three A’s: Accommodations, Adventures, and Appetite!  If you have any questions about London or our trip please shoot me an email!

Accommodations

We stayed at the Park Plaza London Waterloo.  This hotel was in a great location –  walking distance to several main attractions (London Eye, Parliament, Big Ben) and the tube was right across the street.

The hotel room was average with one king bed and a pull out couch – large enough for our family of four on vacation and rarely using the room.  It overlooked a train station which may not sound ideal, but our daughters loved watching the trains coming and going, so that was a bonus.

What stood out about this hotel was their Kid’s Club from 5-9pm.  They had a room with toys, a movie playing, cookies, popcorn and drinks – FOR FREE.  People this is a big deal for people with kids!  We would get our dinner from a restaurant to go, bring it back to the hotel and eat in the Kid’s Club.  It was a great perk of this hotel.  There was also a heated pool, sauna, and steam room beneath the ground floor that was another bonus as our 3 year old loves to swim.

**If you choose not to have your room cleaned (they still give you fresh towels) you will receive a free bottle of wine or a drink at the bar up to 10 pounds per day!**
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Adventures

We used two London Passes which covered the majority of our adventures, our children did not need them (perks of traveling with little ones).

Big Ben and Houses of Parliament – This served as an iconic photo op for us. Big Ben/Elizabeth Tower was undergoing restoration so it was covered up, bummer.  We did not go into the Houses of Parliament.

London Bridge – Checked it off the list, not much to look at.

Tower Bridge – I think our kids could have spent the whole day here.  They were obsessed with the glass floors looking down at the bridge.  The history behind it was interesting, I highly recommend visiting and going inside.

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The Shard – The tallest building in Western Europe and an amazing view of London, we chose The Shard over the London Eye and were very happy with that choice!  Therewas no wait, just a quick elevator ride up, and you could spend as much time as you wanted at the top.  There was a bar – but we passed since the drinks were a bit overpriced.the shard london

Buckingham Palace – We attempted to go see the changing of the guards, but it was way too crowded and you could not see anything.  Be sure to get there at least an hour early if you want to see inside the palace gates – although with children this wait would not have been feasible for us.  Please check the calendar ahead of time, as they do not do this every day.

Instead, we went back to Buckingham Palace later to tour the inside (you can only do this two months out of the year when the Queen is on vacation in Scotland).  I HIGHLY recommend this – it was quite amazing to see inside and where the royals spend their time.  The best part was having tea and eclairs overlooking the green, it was so special to do with our daughters.

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Westminster Abbey – There was a wait to get in, but it is worth it.  There is so much history here, and it is breathtakingly beautiful.  Coronations, the royal wedding, the memorials/burials – you could spend a lot of time here just soaking it all in.  It is a bit crowded inside which was challenging with the stroller, and our kids eventually were out and crawling all over the floors (which brought some laughter).

Tower of London – We did not get to spend too much time here since we arrived later in the day, but we were able to see the crown jewels.  There is typically a wait which is not only outside but winding inside as well.  My daughter loved seeing all the crowns so it was worth it.  Definitely has a neat vibe to it, you can get a real feel for the history and time period it served.unnamed-1

Hyde Park – I would definitely recommend Hyde Park on your visit to London.  From the Kensington Gardens to the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, it is a great way to escape the “city” feel of London and have a relaxing afternoon.  We spent quite a bit of time at the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain and Playground (two opposite ends of the park, so be prepared for a nice stroll).  I would recommend a change of clothes for your little ones if you plan to visit the fountain, and will also add the water is VERY cold (didn’t phase my little ones though).

Princess Diana Memorial Fountain

St. Paul’s Cathedral – Yet another gorgeous cathedral worth seeing.  It is rich with history and has a beautiful interior.  There are some pretty interesting crypts below that you can visit as well.  There is a area dedicated to thanking the United States and all of the fallen American soldiers during WWII, this really felt special as an American in a foreign country.

Covent Garden – A shopper and foodie paradise.  This is a great place to find unique gifts (and some cliche touristy ones as well), delicious food, and fun entertainment.  There are street performers and beautiful flowers at every turn. There is a shop there that sells hot chocolate and tea – I sadly cannot remember the name but if you see it GO IN!  Their hot chocolate is to die for ❤unnamed-1

River Boat Cruise – Using a tip from a local we redeemed our river boat cruise ticket on the last day our london pass was valid, the cruise ticket being valid 24 hours.  This allowed us to use it the next day, extending our use of the London Pass and maximizing its value.  Before we headed to the airport, we cruised from Big Ben to the Tower Bridge and back.  A very relaxing way to end our visit in London.

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Appetite

Several restaurants we visited offered discounted menu prices for taking food to go!

KERB Camden Market – I have never seen such a foodie paradise – head here for some delicious street food.  They have something for every craving, sweet and savory alike.

Mother Mash – Please please please go here!  The food is SO good!  I got the classic mash with steak pie and farmer’s gravy.  OMG – my mouth it watering just thinking about it!

Itsu – This was a quick stop for Asian inspired food, we got a noodle soup, some sushi, and dumplings.  Good place to stop for food on the go.

Beer – Local beers were light for the most part but good.  Not too extensive of local selection for the most part.

 

 

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