Posted on Oct 14, 2013 in European Family Vacation, London


When Kim and Dan Pierce were deciding to take a European family vacation, they began by visiting their local library to do some research–lots of research!  The family borrowed and read many fiction and non-fiction children’s books about the locations they hoped to visit. They discovered the Lonely Planet Not for Parents guides and DK’s Eyewitness Travel Family Guides. They read TripAdvisor reviews before choosing accommodations and downloaded Google maps for when they arrived.  To familiarize themselves with their destinations, the Pierces watched podcasts about each location before leaving the States.  Lest the reader conclude that all of this preparation was a burden and a bore, think again!  By deliberately and joyfully immersing themselves in all-things-European before, during, and after the trip, the Pierce family extended the pleasure of their vacation and added greater meaning  to each new experience.

When all the arrangements were completed, they flew to their first stop:  London.  They stayed in the historic St. Ermin’s Hotel, a family-friendly lodging that is “midway between Buckingham Palace & Westminster Abbey.”  Location was important as the entire trip was fast-paced:  a 7-day cruise paired with a 7-day tour of London, Paris and Barcelona. Some of the iconic sites they visited were the Tower of London (pictured above), the London Eye (a giant Ferris wheel on the bank of the River Thames), Big Ben/Westminster Palace and Westminster Abbey shown below.


Now when the family visited Europe it was during school vacation in August, a time that is very popular with tourists and, consequently, a time when long lines are the norm at popular destinations.  Once again, some advance planning can save time and headaches:  visitors who purchase a membership to the  Historical Royal Palaces  before leaving the U.S. can zip ahead of the line at five great locations including the Tower of London.  Similarly, the London Eye offers a flexi fast track option to avoid the queues.


Warner Bros. Studios - Diagon Alley


While London offered history galore, a newer landmark made the biggest impression on Alex:  the Warner Brothers Studio Tour London–The Making of Harry Potter was his hands-down favorite.   The tour offers visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the sets, costumes and special effects that brought the popular film series to life.  Here visitors stroll down Diagon Alley, the wizarding shopping street where Hogwarts students buy their supplies.




Throughout their European travels, the Pierces generally opted for familiar American foods.  This choice offered them peace of mind, for their son had several food allergies which they did not wish to trigger.  In London, the family did visit a traditional pub and an elegant tea room which Olivia relished.

Tea in London


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