London is rich with architecture, history and culture, but it can be tricky to make it fun for teens. Consider the following activities that are sure to make this a memorable family vacation.
See a show in the West End. Take your pick of several world-class shows in this district reminiscent of America’s Broadway. Flexible schedule? Secure your tickets at half-price or deep discount via tkts booths in Leicester Square on the day of the show. If you go this route, view theater layouts online first, as diagrams are not available when you make your purchase. Counterfeit ticketing is prevalent in this area, so be sure to buy tickets from a reputable source.
Ride the Serpentine Boats in Hyde Park. Hyde Park is great for running and rollerblading, but the most leisurely way to see this greenspace is by boat. Rentals are available on the north side from March – October. There are also various eating options around the park. For a taste of the culture, make your picnic near the Speakers’ Corner to hear the locals take to their soapbox.
Climb St Paul’s Cathedral. While Westminster Abbey was most recently in the news as the nuptial site for the Royal Wedding, St Paul’s Cathedral is a more welcoming landmark for younger visitors. The church is open and bright; teens will enjoy the climb to the Whispering Gallery and onto the colorful Dome for breathtaking views of London. Romantics will be happy to know that this second largest domed cathedral was the wedding site for Charles and Diana.
Wonder at Stonehenge. OK. I’m cheating. This prehistoric mystery is two hours out of London; there are several tours available if you are not up to hiring a car. But yes, it is worth the effort to see this circular series of gigantic rocks. Regular visitors cannot visit inside the ring of boulders, but various after-hours tours are available for those seeking access to the inner circle. There is also a gift shop and several places to get a soda or ice cream.
Indulge at a London Market. Whatever your teen’s passion, there is sure to be a London Market in which to coddle that obsession. Brick Lane Market is a fun place for clothes and eclectic finds. Broadway Market showcases local artists and farmers, tasty treats and vintage wear. If you are looking for more upscale designer fashion and art, try Camden Lock Market. Enjoy the street performers and awesome architecture at the indoor market at Covent Garden London. There is something for everyone and sure to be a market near you.
View the city from the London Eye. This Ferris-wheel sends you more than 440 feet in the air over the Thames for a spectacular view almost 25 miles around London. The ride is 30 minutes long and can be taken day or night (or both) for reasonable rates. You can also opt for a ticket that includes a private capsule, 4D theatre experience, or River Cruise to see Big Ben, Parliament, St Paul’s and Tower Bridge from the water. Whatever your option, buy your tickets online for a significant savings.
Explore WWT London Wetland Centre. This haven was voted best Nature Center in the UK. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city without leaving London. The Centre is teeming with wildlife including birds, otters, water voles, and more. The wetlands and various installed art make beautiful pictures – and it is easy to get lovely wildlife photos without an expensive camera lens. If you are looking for an in-depth study, consider taking one of several guided tours.
Have you been to London with your teenagers? Tell us where you have ventured!