We love traveling to London. In many ways it feels like home, and a lot like New York. We are often asked by our friends for a list of some of our favorite places to check out, and some cool ideas for the kids. This list is certainly not complete, but is a good start.
The Delaney’s Favorite Spots in London (Beyond the regular stops of the Tower of London, the Tower Bridge Museum, the Victoria & Albert, and Hyde Park)
1. Hoxton Street Monster Supply Company
This was one of our favorite finds on a trip with the kids. Super clever, and the store front is a as cool as the website. The kids got great souvenirs for the friends, and all proceeds fund an after school creative writing program for local kids.
2. The Churchill War Rooms
We have been here a number of times and still enjoy it. You will definitely need 1 ½ hours here, if not 2 hours. If you time it right, you can go when they open (9:30am) and finish up in time to cross the park to see the changing of the guards over at Buckingham Palace at 11am.
3. Leaden Hall Market
Leaden Hall Market served as the exterior shot and inspiration for Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley and the Leaky Cauldron in Sorcerer’s Stone. It is located at Gracechurch street and Lime Street.
4. Covent Garden, Transportation Museum, and Masala Zone
We love Covent Garden. The market has lots of vendors with unique items, the food selections are great, and the setting is very Instagram worthy. It is often decorated for the season as well. It is also the location of the Transportation Museum (which the kids love). In our estimation, it’s the best transportation museum outside of the one in York. If you are not going to head up to York, then don’t miss this one.
Not far from here is our favorite outpost of an awesome Indian restaurant called Masala Zone. There are a few locations in London, and each is decorated differently. This one is filled with countless puppets depicting an Indian wedding. It's really remarkable.
5. Old Greenwich
The Royal Observatory in Old Greenwich is definitely worth the trip. In order to get to Old Greenwich you will take an extra-long train ride which gives you a tour of some non-touristy parts of London like the Dockyards, which is the hipster place to live. When you arrive you can stand on both sides of the Prime Meridian. And the town has some of the best little fish and chips shops. Plus it is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
These four can go together:
6. Westminster Abbey
Historic, beautiful, and amazing, then they have the best scavenger hunt for the kids. Even the big kids love it. When the kids hand in the completed form in the gift shop they are rewarded with a very large gold chocolate “coin” of Westminster. It was a lovely surprise.
7. The London Eye
It seems little cheesy, but its so cool. You will get some fantastic views and photos of the city. The lines can be long, so you may want to buy your tickets online, or by them or another time and return.
8. Tower Bridge
After the London Eye, walk along the Embankment towards Tower Bridge. The Tour at Tower Bridge is totally worth it, as are the street musicians and artists along the way.
9. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
You can easily walk here via the Millennium Footbridge – it is just a short distance from the end of the bridge on the same side of the river as the London Eye. This replica of the original is super cool for theatre nerds like me. The tours are great, and you can book tickets ahead of time for shows if the schedule works for you. Afterwards, you can take the short walk to the Tate Museum, another favorite.
10. Liberty London
I love tea. My favorites are the Royal Blend and the Jubilee Blend from Fortnum and Mason, and the Assam Tea from Harrods. But the one souvenir I try to get is teapots, and they are hard to find, Liberty has the best selection, and the building is gorgeous. The main entrance is on Marlborough.
11. Portobello Road Market
On Saturday mornings It opens at 9am with over 1,000 vendors. It is so much cooler now than when we went back in college. It goes on and on…it’s like a living museum for the kids. We’ve bought a bunch of antique prints and maps here – all vintage and early 1700s. As our little ones says, they are cool because they are older than our country.
12. St. Irmin's Hotel
Located near Buckhingham Palace, this hotel has a storied history all its own, full of spies and history. I think it may be my favorite hotel in the city. They have a great scavenger hunt for the kids. It kept them busy and taught them (!) some history along the way while we enjoyed a couple of gin and tonics in the beautifully decorated lobby bar. In fact, I was so inspired by the decor that I replicated some of it at home.
13. A Premier League Football (Soccer) Game
Our family are West Ham fans since my father in law is from there, and when we last went to London, West Ham was playing away at Fulham Football Club. We got tickets to the game, and sat in the Fulham section. And while we disappointed not to experience London Stadium, we fell in love with the history of Craven Cottage. And it was the authentic experience, complete with pouring rain. We met the loveliest people who told us we had to try the pies from the concessions, as each stadium has an unofficial competition to see who has the best ones, and Fulham's were the best. I have no point of comparison but they were awesome. he rain stopped as the match ended, and the stroll along the Thames as we wandered back to the bus stop after the game was beautiful and gave us a glimpse of old London. We loved it.
14. London Pass
Since you’ll be traveling to some of the touristy spots (an especially if you travel over the summer or the holidays), I highly recommend buying the London Pass before you go. It gives you discounted admissions, and you get to cut the line (“Fast track”) since you’ve already paid. This will absolutely save you a ton of time during the high seasons. And you can buy it with or without travel. I recommend buying it with travel, then you will already have your underground (Oyster Cards) and bus passes taken care of. Easy peasy. We usually do the 3 day pass since we tend to leave London after a few days. But you MUST purchase this before you go… you cannot buy it once you arrive.
Kris Delaney is a marketing executive, foodie, travel enthusiast, and book nerd based in Atlanta, GA.