London with Kids: Westminster and Kensington

The day before had been great, our first night in the hotel room went very well, and we were ready to see more of the city. Our plan for the day was to visit sites in Westminster and Kensington. 
 
We took the underground from Southwick (a very quick walk from our hotel) to Westminster.
Westminster
Westminster Palace – Big Ben
The first sight was saw coming out of the station was Westminster Palace. It was magnificent! We walked around the building a bit and took a few photos. London was pretty excited because we had talked beforehand about how this was the same clock that Peter Pan flew to.
Westminster Abbey
The abbey was beautiful to see! We were there on a Saturday and the abbey was open from 9:30 am – 3:30 pm. We purchased our tickets online, although there didn’t seem to be too horrible of a line for those that purchased at the door.
There are no photos allowed once you’re inside. This was a little bit of a bummer, but at the same time, it was nice to really focus on everything we were seeing. An audio guide was included and we followed the path through the abbey.
We saw plaques and graves to many historical people, including: Shakespeare, Isaac Newton, countless writers, and more. The abbey’s website actually has an entire list that you can browse through before your visit.
We also got to see the graves of Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots and learn more about each of their stories.
At the very end of the tour, we got to see the coronation chair. This was originally made for King Edward I to enclose the Stone of Scone that he had brought over from Scotland. Legend has it that this is the same stone that Jacob from the bible had used first as a pillow and then for a pillar (Genesis 28:18). While it used to be stored in a vault in England, it now resides back in Scotland and is only brought to England for coronations. You can visit it at Edinburg castle.
Both of our girls did well in the abbey. We were there for two hours and saw a good amount. Luckily, Adeline fell asleep for about half the time so that was nice. The abbey was mostly stroller friendly, with only a few area of stairs. When we came across stairs, Aaron and I just took turns going up really quick and it wasn’t a big deal for us.

Buckingham Palace- Changing of the Guards
The changing of the guards happens everyday in the Spring and Summer at 11:30 am sharp. In order to really see whole event, one must get there very early. We got to the street right at 11:30 and it was very crowded. We saw just the end of the guards walking up to the palace.

We overheard a tour guide telling another group of people to stick around because the guards will march back towards this way at the end. He mentioned that it’s also usually less crowded by then. So we decided to wait and found a good spot on the sidewalk where we would be able to see them coming down the street.

It was a little bit of a wait, but it was really neat seeing the guards march down the street while playing music (the bagpipes were our favorite).

Kensington
Kensington Gardens
The first time I ever heard of Kensington Gardens was when I read the book Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. I was excited to see the gardens and also to see the Peter Pan statue.
It was a very nice walk and we saw some beautiful flowers, birds, and of course. the statue. We mostly followed the “Princess Diana Memorial Walk” path and it eventually led us to one of the coolest playgrounds I’ve ever seen – the Diana Memorial Playground.

This playground has elements of Peter Pan to it with it’s pirate ship and teepees and also has a fun musical area and several playgrounds. It was a great place for both our girls to play and had plenty of activities for older children as well.

The playground is gated and only allows a certain number of children to come in at a time. This creates a bit of a line/queue, but for us at least, it was not a long wait at all.

It was a great break in the middle of the day and allowed both our girls to run around a bit before going into the museums in the evening.

Trying on astronaut gloves.

Science Museum
After the kids played for awhile, we headed down to the Science Museum. We didn’t have too much time left before it and the Natural History Museum closed at 6pm, so we only saw one exhibit – Exploring Space. Our toddler wants to be an astronaut when she grows up, so she was pretty excited. We got to see a piece of the moon and try on astronaut gloves. There was also a ton of information about astronauts in general and replicas of different spacecrafts.

Natural History Museum
After our quick visit at the Science Museum, we ran over to the Natural History Museum. Luckily both museums are next to each other. We mostly just saw the dinosaur bones here. It was really neat and I wish we would have had more time to walk around.

We had hoped to also visit the Victoria and Albert Museum (their website had mentioned a toy display that looked pretty neat), but we ran out of time.

Our second day was full of activities and went very well. I was very pleased with how kid friendly everything was! The girls were tired, but both had a fun time at each of our destinations. Overall, definitely a success.

For more information, check out:
http://www.westminster-abbey.org/home
https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/kensington-gardens/things-to-see-and-do/sports-and-leisure/diana-memorial-playground
http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/
http://www.nhm.ac.uk/

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