5 London Royal Palaces To See With Kids
As an ex-Londoner living in New York all the recent royal-family news has me thinking about what I would do if I wanted to take my English-born kids with their American accents on a wild ride of the top royal tourist destinations around London. The U.K.’s palaces and castles are far more kid-friendly than you might expect. With their combination of royal splendor, history and beautiful grounds to roam around they usually manage to keep everyone in the family happy from toddlers to teenagers. Several go out of their way to make kids feel welcome with activities just for them.
There is never a bad time to plan a U.K. trip but it can be hard to decide what sightseeing to do with children; London has so many bucket attractions. Seeing a royal palace is probably high on most family’s lists. So here are the castles and palaces I would consider an essential part of a vacation in London withe kids. (Here are 20 more things to do in London with kids and teens.)
5 Kid-Friendly Palaces & Castles in London
This palace is home to young royals Kate and William and their three cute kids, the palace is nestled in Kensington Gardens, which has plenty of pretty places for your kids to roam. The palace has fabulous things to see. It runs a number of kid activities, storytelling events and scavenger hunts. For the grown-ups, look for revolving special exhibits like “Fashion Rules Restyled,” which explores the history of royal fashions and style. It includes some of Lday Diana’s and Queen Elizabeth’s most beautiful dresses, which you and your girls will love.
(Fun fact: My kids were born in same hospital as Kate Middleton’s, though I can’t say I looked quite as good as the Duchess of Cambridge in the hours following my labor.)
Who can resist the Tower? It’s home to the crown jewels and was the setting for many dramatic moments in royal history. Older kids will salivate over its history and younger ones will love the elaborately uniformed Beefeaters who guard the tower. There are plenty of trails and activities for kids, too. Providing entertainment and intrigue, it’s one of the top things to do in London for good reason.
Hampton Court is a quick train ride from central London and a giant leap into history. See Henry VIII’s former palace come alive with court jesters, a working Tudor kitchen, costumed tour guides and activity trails. You can get a family ticket and explore everything including a garden maze and truly Elizabethan playground. The website has a great guide to spending 1, 2 or 3 hours at this amazing estate that is genuinely one of my favorite places to visit in London and ideal for exploring English history with kids.
I can’t leave Buckingham Palace off the list. While it’s another of London’s most popular tourist attraction it’s also impressive in every way. The changing of the guard still thrills kids and adults alike. There is something about the pomp and splendor that has all of the watchers straightening their backs and standing to attention. It can be very crowded, though, at peak times of the year, so be prepared to put little ones on your shoulders.
You can enjoy the palace from the outside for free all year round. The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are open during the summer and there are some cool kids activities like a giant jigsaw puzzle and dress-up opportunities.
After your palace visit, take a walk in St James park and down to Horse Guards parade too (you might know them from Madeline in London).
This royal estate is is amazing. You can explore the castle and expend any extra energy in sprawling Windsor Park. It’s steeped in history but not boring. A life-size version of the Queen’s famous corgi dogs will help you follow the kids’ trails through this famous royal home. What could be more perfect than a photo with one of these larger-than-life pups?
Note: Windsor Castle is technically not in London, but it’s an easy train ride out of Paddington Station. Give yourself extra time at the station to check out the Paddington Bear statue and shop.
A Note on Transportation: You can get to London easily on most major carriers. And it’s well worth checking out budget airline Norwegian, which flies into London Gatwick. There is easy public transport to get to central London from both Heathrow and Gatwick and of course you can use the tube (the London Underground) to get around town.
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