London Day Trips for Families with Autism

 

London Day Trips for Families with Autism pin

Although London itself is packed with plenty of things to do, sometimes the bustle of the big city is overwhelming, and travelers often find themselves in need of a change of pace. So, without further ado, here are some of our favorite day trips from that particular city.

Stonehenge

Perhaps the best known day trip from London, this ancient stone circle attracts attention from scientists, historians, neo-pagans, and the merely curious. Located just outside the town of Wiltshire, England, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is situated on a twenty thousand acre plot of land that is considered to be the most archaeologically rich area in all of Europe. Admission to the site is currently at £14.90 ($22.98 USD) for adults and £8.70 ($13.42 USD) for children between the ages of five and fifteen.

Complimentary admission may be available during the summer and winter solstice. At such times, guests are also allowed the privilege of walking through the stone circle. Seeing all of Stonehenge usually takes about an hour. However, visiting the site requires careful planning, especially if for those using public transportation as a means of getting there.

London Day Trips for Families with Autism stones

 

 Autism Travel Tips:

  • During the winter, the Stonehenge winds are harsh and may not be suitable for temperature sensitive kids.
  • The toilet is a mile and a half away from the site so kids should use the facilities before visiting.Families can take a shuttle bus from the  English Heritage visitor center to the site.
  • The ground is uneven. Parents should make sure everyone is wearing comfortable, closed toe shoes.
  • It is important to know that visitors are not allowed to vandalize the stones in any way.
    London Day Trips for Families with Autism spa

Bath

This historic spa town has been particularly popular during the Georgian era, and many sights remain from that period. The main attraction here is the Roman Baths, a spot that dates back over two thousand years. Those who want to test the health properties of the water for themselves can even sample it at the Pump Rooms for 50 pence (77 cents). Also, one can sip on luxurious Afternoon Tea at the Pump Room Restaurant.

London Day Trips for Families with Autism clock

 

Travelers that are interested in soak in the waters might want to head across the street to the Thermae Bath Spa. Other attractions found in Bath include the Abbey with its’ gothic architecture, the shop-lined Pulteney Bridge, and the famous Sally Lunn Bakery.

 

The town is easily reached by train from London in about an hour and a half. Travelers should make sure to disembark at the Bath Spa station if they are headed to the town center. Admission to the site is £13.50 ($20.82 USD) for adults, except during the months of August and July when the cost climbs to £14 ($21.59 USD) per visitor.

London Day Trips for Families with Autism water

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Children’s audio guides are available.
  • The bath water is smelly, and the taste is harsh. Some kids with sensitivities might not enjoy it.
  • Wandering kids might not be safe. Parents should supervise their children at all times.London Day Trips for Families with Autism ladies

Warwick

This particular town set on the banks of the River Avon is located about two hours north of London by car. However, trains also stop at locally at Warwick Station. The area is primarily known for its magnificent castle which dates back to the Middle Ages. Younger kids can enjoy the swordsmanship workshops or falconry displays all included in the price. They can also enjoy guided tours geared towards four to eight-year-olds where the kids see a real secret passage.

Another interesting spot in Warwick village is St. Mary’s Church, known for its medieval style architecture. The church was one of the few buildings to have survived the fire of 1694.

London Day Trips for Families with Autism swords

 

Castle admission costs vary seasonally but adult admission is generally around £14.95 ($23.05 USD) and entry for youngster typically runs about £8.45 ($13.03 USD). The building is open from ten am to five pm year round, but stays open an additional hour between the months of April and September.

London Day Trips for Families with Autism henry

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The dungeon experience and tour of the towers are not included in the admission costs.
  • Parents should buy tickets in advance, as the queue to buy tickets can take up to an hour.
  • Those waiting on tickets can enjoy the nearby cafe.
  • The castle has lots of steps and can be exhausting for some kids.
  • Some towers, like the princess tower, are only available for timed shows. Parents should pick up tickets for these shows as soon as they arrive, as they fill up quickly.
  • The castle has a nice playground for kids.
  • The exit is through the gift shop, so there is no way to avoid it.
    London Day Trips for Families with Autism castle

Stratford-upon-Avon

Although the famous English playwright Shakespeare spent most of his life in London, his birthplace has certainly capitalized on their most famous resident. Some the town’s buildings survive from the Tudor period, lending the village a medieval air. Of course, travelers won’t want to miss seeing Shakespeare’s birthplace, the Anne Hathaway home where his wife grew up, and the local church serving as the great man’s burial grounds. The guides liven up the experience by telling compelling stories. Families can enjoy the film which introduces Shakespeare’s plays to those watching. They can then travel a one-way route through all the open rooms of the house, observing the impressive displays.

London Day Trips for Families with Autism bard

 

Other places of interest include the Tudor World museum which offers insights into that particular period and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre where that prestigious acting troop makes their home. Stratford-upon-Avon is a two-hour drive from London, but the town can also be reached using the local train system.

Nearby, families can also experience Mary Arden’s Farm, the farm of Shakespeare’s mother. Volunteers dress up as different farm characters and do chores. Kids will love the falconry show here, and it can be relaxing to walk through the gardens for an hour.
London Day Trips for Families with Autism jester

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Shakespeare fans can enjoy the exhibition in the Visitor Centre for some extra details.
  • This location can get crowded in the summer.
  • We suggest booking online to avoid queues.
  • Parents can get a multi ticket that includes other properties.
  • Travelers have to take the train, bus, or a car to this location.

London Day Trips for Families with Autism view

Oxford

Located approximately 50 miles away from London, this historic college town has been occupied since the Saxon period. It was here that the University of Oxford was founded during the twelfth century. This event began the city’s standing as a premier place for academics, a reputation which has continued to this very day.

However, travelers should note that the various college campuses are spread throughout the city and are open at different times. Christ Church College, in particular, is home to several of the locations seen in the popular Harry Potter films.Christ Church Cathedral offers a family friendly “Head Hunt” trail where travelers can look closely at the details of the church. Exploring guests should seek out the stained glass windows near the St. Frideswade memorial to see the only image of a toilet in stained glass in any UK church.

Other interesting spots in this town include the Bodleian Library, which is among the oldest of its’ kind in Europe, and the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, built during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Also, Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, actually studied at Oxford, and the real life Alice was the daughter of the college dean. Watchful visitors can see Lewis’s many inspirations for his Alice series in the decor through Oxford.
London Day Trips for Families with Autism dining hall

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • This location is a working college, so parents should plan when they go. The Great Hall will not be open to nonstudents during regular mealtimes.

 

Story Museum

This museum, based at Rochester house on Pembroke Street in Oxford, promotes the art of storytelling. The museum features several rooms based on different stories by British authors. Kids can enjoy playing in the themed rooms, such as walking through a wardrobe into snowy Narnia or the Bedtime with the oversized bed.Families can attend special events showcasing authors as well as workshops.

London Day Trips for Families with Autism complex

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Flighty kids can run around in the courtyard outside.
  • There is a cafe onsite for families to enjoy.

 

 

Q&A with Graeme Phillips Train Travel Aficionado

 

How do you plan a trip?

I research the places I want to travel to and see how accessible they regard transportation.
If I still want to go, I  create my itinerary, book the trips and then my lodgings.

Do you travel alone or with a group?

I travel solo unless there is someone who shares my interest in the places I wish to visit and what I want to do there, which does not happen often.

Q&A with Graeme Alexander Phillips Train Travel Aficionado roof

Photo Credit: Graeme Phillips

What is your favorite form of lodging?

I prefer Bed and Breakfast or half-board lodging -depending on the price and availability in this particular region.

Where do you usually travel to?

Mainly cities as I  don’t like renting a car and feeling bound to use it because “the meter is running.”

Q&A with Graeme Alexander Phillips Train Travel Aficionado ocean

Photo Credit: Graeme Phillips

Do you ask for any particular accommodations in airports/lodging?

No, nothing in particular.I plan ahead and make sure I have what I need with me.

Do you join guided tours or venture on your own?

I  prefer to make my timetable and wander on my own.I might consider taking a  guided tour if it is offered at a reasonable price though in some instances like hot weather group tours with fixed itineraries would make concentrating difficult.

 

Q&A with Graeme Alexander Phillips Train Travel Aficionado bridge

Photo Credit: Graeme Phillips

Favorite place you’ve been so far?

Seville, Spain! That’s why I’ve bought a flat there. My close second would be Cartagena de Indias.

What place you would never go back to?

I can’t  think of anywhere.I once spent a month in Syria, and  I guess it wouldn’t be an excellent idea to visit at present.

 

Q&A with Graeme Alexander Phillips Train Travel Aficionado lights

photo Credit: Graeme Phillips

Personal Travel pet peeve?

I’d have to say that would be assistants who cannot answer questions unless the answer comes from a list of pre-memorized responses.

This happened a lot in Malaysia when I asked about books about trains: the shop assistants looked pained when I asked questions about this, as it was outside their usual repertoire of questions.
Another pet peeve is transportation to the airport being late.
Recently had an experience where I traveled by bus to a city center, where I was catching an onward coach, but my flight was delayed, and it took forever to get to the city center’s coach station in rush-hour traffic, making me about hour-and-a-half late for the bus. Luckily, I was put on the next one.

 

Q&A with Graeme Alexander Phillips Train Travel Aficionado lake

Photo Credit: Graeme Phillips

Favorite method of transportation while traveling and why?.

Trains!

Traveling by train in comparison to the bus is a good idea since trains don’t interact with rush-hour traffic except at level crossings.
I think that choosing transportation modes with a high degree of predictability are better for people with autism, particularly if they are traveling alone.
I will often plan holidays in countries with extensive networks like Spain and China just to experience their high-speed trains. I like Spain’s AVE service that promises on the Madrid-Seville line that if the train is more than 5 minutes late, you get all of your money back.

 

Q&A with Graeme Alexander Phillips Train Travel Aficionado station

Photo Credit GraemePhillips

The German and Swiss rail systems with their reliable timetables provide sound traveling choices for people on the autistic spectrum, and I like the fact that most of the times, the platforms the trains leave from are announced well in advance.
The Swiss railway system prides itself on punctuality and interconnectivity.
As far as I know, it was among the first to adopt the clock face timetabling method (trains departing at the same number of minutes past the hour) and to produce a timetable map of the country.

The system is designed so that it is easy to interchange, with many major cities having trains arrive five minutes before the hour and departing five minutes after the time. The numbers closest to the station show how many minutes past the hour a train arrives at a station and the number on the other side slightly further away shows how many minutes past the hour the train leaves the station.
Would I trade the Swiss system for the British system?
Probably not, because the punctuality of the Swiss seems to be achieved by leaving extremely generous allowances. The system of timing nodes around the half and whole hours can be fairly wasteful and reduces the number of destinations reachable within a day’s travel.
Nevertheless, the system is easy to navigate when you are in a country you don’t know, and you don’t want to struggle to learn a new regime.

Q&A with Graeme Alexander Phillips Train Travel Aficionado train

Photo Credit: Graeme Phillips

Over the years, I’ve heard some complaints about the appearance of the Chinese metro system, but I don’t personally have a problem with it since for me predictability trumps appearance, especially in a city, I’m not acquainted with.

Though I know a lot about high-speed trains around the world, my real specialty (and day job) involves metro trains.
Metro systems are in many ways my favorite method of getting around, as they offer the best of both worlds- spontaneity and predictability.

Spontaneity in that you can just turn up and, in most systems, a train will arrive in a matter of minutes (generally no need to find out times in advance).

Predictability in that you can look up the location of the station, and you know exactly where you are going, unlike by bus where you might not know where to get off and possibly overshoot your spot.
However, as much as I do like seeing other metro systems, I have to confess I often don’t bother using the systems if the distances are short enough to walk since as a tourist I want to get to explore the city as much as possible.

Q&A with Graeme Alexander Phillips Train Travel Aficionado rainbow

Photo Credit: Graeme Phillips

Graeme lives in the United Kingdom and works in the railway industry. In his spare time, he enjoys participating in his Reformed Baptist Church, learning foreign languages and finding out about railway systems across the world. To learn more train travel tips, you are invited to join his  ‘Fans of High-Speed Trains’ Facebook group.

 

Q&A with Karen Bower of ‘Railman’ Blog

Our guest this month is Karen Bower from the UK.
Karen is an industrial chemist by background, married and busy stay at home mom to Harry and Imogen and steps mom to Hannah and Issy.

When did you start traveling with your kids?

We began quite early; Harry was two, and a half and Imogen was barely eight months.

What was your first trip?

Our first adventure was to EuroDisney.
In hindsight, I already knew that Harry was not neurotypical.
Even though I couldn’t articulate it at the time, travelling with Harry and Imogen was such an enjoyable experience.
There were no meltdowns. No tantrums. No screaming fits because we’d done something terrible like turned right instead of left!
However, the first time where I understood that I could use trains to connect with Harry and facilitate his learning was during our Lands End to John O’Groats  trip in 2012.

Q&A with Karen Bower of 'Railman' Blog chair

What is your favourite type of trip?

For us, sleeper trains work brilliantly.
The children sleep very well on trains, and Harry adores both waking up in a train station and also being somewhere new. For Harry, the thrill is traveling, and I like the fact that sleeper trains provide time to explore our destination.
I tend to do quite a bit of research on our destinations and will have a planned activity – to see a zoo or a park or a museum and, again, that seems to work for us. I try to make sure that we do something relevant to the city we are in and also something the children haven’t done before. While in America, we will take a tour of the White House, see whales and even take a tour of a submarine.

Q&A with Karen Bower of 'Railman' Blog SIGN

Do your kids enjoy trying new dishes?

Um, no!!
Food is a massive issue.
Harry will only eat a very limited number of foods. His first line of taste buds, I am sure, are in his fingers. Food is rejected for a vast number of issues. Too hot, too cold, too hard, too soft or simply (his favourite excuse!) too yucky.
I bring pre-packed pureed fruit with me. Buying it en route is not acceptable to Harry, it must the brand he likes otherwise he won’t touch it.
Other than that, Harry can survive solely on bread, pasta, pizza and diet coke!!

Q&A with Karen Bower of 'Railman' Blog HARRY

What made you plan your long train trip?

This trip comes at a special moment for our family.
It is the last summer where all the kids are at home. Or, more accurately, on the road. And it is the first summer when we aren’t scared of autism.
Plus there is the flight issue. The one part of the trip which will be stressful will be the flight so it made sense that, once we were out there, we might as well stay for the summer!

Who is going on that trip?

I will be taking Hannah (18), Issy (15), Harry (5) and Imogen (4)  to NYC, Washington and Denver.
My husband Richard will join us in San Francisco. Then, Richard will take the elder girls to Las Vegas while I will be head to Canada with the little ones.

Q&A with Karen Bower of 'Railman' Blog SKI

Do you make your travel arrangements?

We have used Ted Blishak, who has recommended suitable layovers and hotels and made sure we have the right tickets and documentation, like a letter of authority for Issy, who is a minor and for whom I do not have parental responsibility.

Do you typically ask for special accommodations anywhere?

Only on the plane.
I have informed them of Harry’s disability so that we can get bulkhead seats (at least for myself and Harry.) This is because Harry WILL kick the seat in front of him and any attempt to stop him will increase his stress making it even more likely he will kick the seat in front of him!

Q&A with Karen Bower of 'Railman' Blog SAIL

How do you travel- light or with everything but the kitchen sink?

I’d like to answer light, but I have a feeling Hannah and Issy won’t agree.
One thing that I am clear on, though:  ‘If  YOU want to bring it, YOU have to carry it !’

What items do you pack to entertain your kids on the long train rides?

I-pads!
I understand that there is an enormous debate over whether children should be allowed to have I-pads, but honestly, I couldn’t rate them more highly.
If there is one benefit of having a child with autism, it’s that debates like this no longer apply to me. I do what is right for my family.

How are you preparing your kids for the trip?

We talk a lot about the places we will be visiting and what we will be doing in each city.
I try to make it relevant to the movies they watch.
So, when we visit  New York, we won’t be touring Central Park Zoo but the Madagascar zoo!!

Q&A with Karen Bower of 'Railman' Blog TRAIN

Have you sorted out the travel logistics yet-laundry, food, places to see?

We have a reasonable plan.
We will buy clothes as souvenirs on the way.
When Richard flies out, he will bring extra food for Harry and take home any souvenirs we’ve accumulated but don’t want to take with us.

Will anyone else be joining to help you on the way?

Because the elder girls are flying home from Las Vegas, my sister is flying out to accompany us on the return flight.
During the trip, I need someone to care for Imogen as Harry will need my absolute attention.

Q&A with Karen Bower of 'Railman' Blog BOAT

 What souvenirs will you be bringing home?


I’m planning to collect cloth patches and t-shirts from the various places we travel and then make them up into a throw which we can keep.
We will also take millions of photos, and I’ll make them up into a photo book when we get back.

Where do you see yourself travelling with your kids five years from now?

I don’t think I’ll ever put a timescale on it.
Much to my mother’s dismay, she never knows where we are going to go next!!
We will travel while it works for our family.I like to capitalise on Harry’s interests.And I find that the more we explore, the more things we find we want to do.
I’ve learned not to make assumptions when it comes to Harry.
I have started to plan a couple of adventures for later this year.
This Christmas, I’m planning to take the kids to Rovaniemi by train. We will take the sleeper from Helsinki. Personally, I think this is a much nicer way to meet Santa Claus – our very own real life Polar Express.
The only thing I know for sure is that we do what’s right for Harry and us as a family. Where ever and whatever that happens to be.

Q&A with Karen Bower of 'Railman' Blog BOY

 

 

Q&A with Wolfie Blue of ‘Rainbow Mamas Circus’

Wolfie Blue’s is a unique autism activist residing in the U.K. Over the years she has traveled extensively with her family and performed in many outdoor festivals as a circus performer. 

She is a mother of four young kids, two of whom are diagnosed with autism as well as an educator(she homeschools her children) and an avid blogger lending much-needed tips to less experienced moms on how to cope with autism on a daily basis.

 

How did you come up with the ‘ Rainbow Circus Mamas’ concept?

It is symbolic for me.
The ‘Rainbow’ represents the Autistic spectrum, ‘Mama‘ is me, and we are circus performers. I wanted to create a space for moms and children at festivals to relax slowdown from all the hectic life around us and even learn while playing.


How do you find the time to do community work while taking care of four kids?

I homeschool, so time for me is immaterial. I’m always busy, so it’s not a case of fitting everything in but rather doing everything in the right order!  I’ve just published my book ‘Diary of an Autism Mother’ explaining how I get everything done. Though it gets stressful at times, I wouldn’t change anything in my life.

Q&A with Wolfie Blue,founder of 'Rainbow Mamas Circus' mom

Are any other family members involved in The ‘Rainbow Mamas Circus’ project?

Our kids are involved, of course, and their dad is the other part of the circus. We work in close collaboration with another group called “the naughty pixies” that have built a Yurt and inspired us to make one too.


How often do you travel?

We only travel when we have a booking somewhere, usually at a festival. We typically go a few days before the event and then head back home after helping to clean up and pack everything down.

 

Q&A with Wolfie Blue,founder of 'Rainbow Mamas Circus' merry go round

How well do you pack a family of six on short notice?

I’m a master at packing. Filling the minibus with everything takes me about an hour. I have lots of packing lists, to do lists and army drill style packing knowledge.

 

Where do you stay when you travel?

We sleep in our minibus; although when the yurt is finished, we’ll be a lot more comfortable sleeping inside. Festivals are outdoor events, so there are usually gas stoves and campfires for cooking.

Q&A with Wolfie Blue,founder of 'Rainbow Mamas Circus' playtime

Keeping young special needs kids safe in large crowds must be a challenge- How do you manage?

Having autistic children is a massive responsibility!
I watch the kids all the time plus their dad is on hand to help. I also have them wear ID tags in the isolated case they should wander off.

Are you raising money for a particular cause?

We don’t raise money; it’s purely volunteer work. Sometimes we get reimbursed for the fuel costs if we travel far. I have done some fundraising for the National Autistic Society recently- I got calendars made to sell and got everyone involved.

Q&A with Wolfie Blue,founder of 'Rainbow Mamas Circus' son

How are the shows received in the community?

We get bookings at family friendly festivals where we are well received. People know that we’re there to entertain them, and most children find playing with circus toys irresistible

How do your kids enjoy the shows?

They are all naturally circus lovers, so it’s like a big sensory trip for them. My daughter loves art and helps out with the visuals.
My older nonverbal autistic son enjoys the loud music. As for fire shows -most kids I know are fascinated by twirling flames, mine included.

 

Q&A with Wolfie Blue,founder of 'Rainbow Mamas Circus' fire

If you had to choose a personal favorite; which festival would it be?

Hands down the best fire shows are at ‘Alchemy’ festival with more than 100 people who join in – an unusual sight!
But the best children’s atmosphere has to be the ‘beautiful days’ at the Levellers festival where all the kids run out of their tents down the hill to come and play with the circus toys, and everyone remembers everyone from previous years.

Do you see a change in people and their level of autism awareness after they meet your family?

Oh, yes. People remember us and after spending time with my autistic children, they learn how to respond in a much more positive way.
Since two of my boys are nonverbal many, people learn quite a bit about autistic behavior. Also, some of my art boards promote natural birth, breastfeeding, and autism acceptance, so other mothers learn new stuff too.

Q&A with Wolfie Blue,founder of 'Rainbow Mamas Circus' kids

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

I’m a planner! I sit and draw visual calendars with five-year projections. Aside from homeschooling my kids, writing my books and fundraising my ultimate dream is to expand the circus and get a bigger space for it.
I have people messaging me on Facebook asking for advice on their special needs kids, so I would love to set up an online support group to reach out to those who are just starting out and help them.

 

Ten Family Activities in London

 When someone asked me the other day which places to visit in London with her kids, it brought back memories of our kids’ first visit.
Here are some of their all-time favorite activities (they’ve been several times since then) that are suitable for most families to try.

The Churchill  War Rooms

Part of the Imperial War Museums, the Churchill War Rooms are an excellent resource to explore and teach your kids not only about a great statesman but Britain’s pivotal role in WWII. Our boys were mesmerized by the battle maps, newspaper clips and the underground BBC makeshift studio displayed.

Speakers’ Corner Hyde Park

A symbol of free speech and real democracy, today’s corner is less about politics and more about off-beat topics and outlandish antics. The Sunday we attended we saw a preacher warning passersby of the second coming, a man on top of a ladder claiming rights for short people and another defending bestiality. Though quite a noisy place, my teen autistic kid felt right at home and was ready to chime on how he would rule the world if we hadn’t proceeded to stop him.

Ten Favorite Family Activities to do in London national gallery

 

 

 Westminster Abbey

Entwined in the lives of monarchs, statesmen, military men; poets, and men of the cloth – the Abbey is a London must-see. Since there are many exciting areas to explore you should map out the places you want to see ahead of time. Our son a pre-teen at the time couldn’t get enough of the story about Queen Elizabeth, I, and how she finally solved her ‘sibling rivalry’  by getting buried over her sister Mary Queen of Scots in the Lady’s Chapel section.

The Tower

The London Tower has, hand down, the most attentive and patient guides we’ve ever met during our world travels. The Beefeater, we had on that snowy day was nothing short of a modern pied piper. He had a group of thirty people (my kids, including) listening to his riveting stories for over two hours while answering my son’s questions. A great tour to take with older children is the nightly key ceremony -just be advised the tickets sell out rather quickly, so you need to book several months in advance.

Ten Favorite Family Activities to do in London beefeater

 Harrod’s

Even though for most tourists, Harrod’s represents the ultimate London shopping experience, my kids fell in love with its food venues. Their two favorite Harrod’s spots are the cheese stalls in the extensive food court as well as the Georgian Room for their High Tea homemade scones, clotted cream, and petal rose jelly.

British Museum

Unlike some of their European counterparts, this museum is a well lit with ample seating spots, which make it a pleasure to walk around. As expected our kids enjoyed checking out the exhibits, especially of ancient Egyptian feline mummies buried alongside their masters and were disappointed when it was time for them to leave -four hours later.

Ten Favorite Family Activities to do in London harrods


Walking Tours

Over the years, we’ve taken many walking tours in multiple cities but none as memorable as the one tracing the killing rampage of Jack the Ripper. If your kids are in the older teen group age and like listening to gory stories, this is the tour for you. After assembling the group by the early evening hours, the guide proceeds to take you to different locations the murders occurred. The combination of walking the dark streets and descriptions of the victims’ injuries make the tour so real; you start looking over your shoulder by the night’s end even though you know these crimes happened over a century ago.

The Changing of the Guard ceremony

There are several places around London that you can witness the changing of the guard depending on what their schedule is that day. However, even if you miss it, you can still take your kids to St James Palace and take that traditional picture with the guard in which he stands with that frozen glossed over look no matter how hard you try to look funny and make him smile.

Ten Favorite Family Activities to do in London buckingham

 

Overall View of the city

We have two favorite places to view the city from, each with its unique features and accompanying atmosphere. The first, clearly not for the faint of hearted lot, involves climbing over 500 stairs  (total of 1,000 up and down) to the top of St Paul’s Cathedral. The reward is a 360-degree spectacular view of the entire city along with well deserved lifelong bragging rights
The London Eye is pricier (even though they do provide a disability discount and fast pass) but more sensory friendly supplying you with priceless views at different levels as the ferrous wheel turns. As expected our kids enjoyed the Eye better as it was less physically challenging and provided them with a more ‘theme park’ adventure feel.

A  West End show

No visit to London is complete without attending a show at the west end. For more affordable tickets try looking online for sales or head-on the Leicester Square the day of the [performance to catch some last minute deep discounted tickets. Over the years, we’ve all ended many shows but none more memorable than the performance of, Billy Elliot, when a cute little mouse decided to steal the spotlight by continuously running between the audience rows looking for remains of intermission sold ice cream cones.

What do you and your family like to do on your London visits-feel free to add to our list?

London’s Marriott Grosvenor Square Hotel

This 237 bedroom establishment is a five-star hotel that is run by the Marriott hotel chain. The refurbished former private mansion is located at Grosvenor Square in the heart of Mayfair, very close to the US embassy.

What makes it family worthy?

 The centrally located and luxurious hotel has wonderful family rooms. These suites can accommodate two adults and two kids (even older teens) comfortably. The main shopping areas in London are only a short walk from the building and the hotel also received a Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2014.

Review of London's Marriott Grosvenor Square Hotel our room

Fellow Travelers

This hotel is a good spot for families and couples, but travelers of all types are well represented.

The upscale establishment is decorated in a sleek modern, minimalist style with mostly neutral colors throughout. Some public areas featured colorful ambient lighting with upholstered velvet and leather furniture.

Our room had a large, well-lit closet that contained plenty of space to hold our belongings. A shelving unit was included inside the closet as well, for even more storage. The room’s mini bar area was furnished with clean glasses, some beverages, a miniature refrigerator, and an in-room safe. There was also a small fold out chair in the suite and a large LCD television to keep travelers entertained while they are in their rooms for the night. Along with the usual amenities, the hotel sent us a number of complimentary gifts due to some minor inconveniences we encountered upon check-in. This was a very nice gesture, which we appreciated.

Our quad room contained one sofa bed, a regular sized bed, and a poster queen-sized bed. On either side of the poster bed were sizeable nightstands and small reading lights over the bed. Our favorite feature in this suite was the special sockets on the poster bed that allowed us to recharge easily our electronics. Another elegant touch was the live plant in the suite that enhanced the elegant ambiance. A work desk with plentiful drawers and a comfortable chair rounded out the room’s furnishings.

The bathroom had spotted tan and gray granite countertops and tan and black patterned tile that gave the whole area an elegant appearance.  The amenity kit that included shampoo, soap, conditioner, and a good number of fat, fluffy towels were waiting for us in the open wooden cabinet that was located right by the sink.

This bathroom also contained a scale so that guests could easily see if they need to pay a visit to the hotel’s gym. Meanwhile, the shower curtain had a swirled black and white pattern that added a bit more pizazz to the overall decor. Our room had a hand held shower device, a feature that makes it easier for handicapped persons or small children to take a bath with ease.

Review of London's Marriott Grosvenor Square Hotel maze restaurant

The hotel

Over seven different languages are spoken by the staff, and the reception desk is open at all hours to better meet the needs of their guests. Complimentary Wi-Fi is likewise available in all public parts of the hotel. In room internet is also offered for a modest fee Free for Marriott Elite members)  so travelers should definitely be aware of that fact.

The small outdoor courtyard is a good spot to hang out when the weather is nice, but this being London travelers should expect rain more often than not.
Indoors, guests might want to pay a visit to the Michelin starred, Maze.The restaurant as it one of the many establishments founded by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.
The executive level on the bottom floor is a large well-designed room, able to accommodate the different travelers, for breakfast and light lunches and dinners.We found the staff enthusiastic and helpful trying to cater to requests.

Autism travel tips

Make sure to ask for a room that overlooks their interior courtyard because they tend to be quieter.
It is also a good idea to ask for higher floors to avoid the noise that may result from the wedding receptions that often take place here on weekends. Handicapped persons should have no trouble entering and exiting the bath because the tubs have two safety handles. However, those who need a bathmat for more traction should be sure to bring their own as these are not provided by the hotel.
Allergy sufferers will additionally be happy to learn that the entire facility is nonsmoking and pet free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review of Liverpool’s the Fab Four Taxi Tour

As we only had a few hours to spend in Liverpool, we decided to book a  private  Beatles aka Fab Four tour that was recommended by a friend of ours who had gone on the trip the year before.

Review of Liverpool's the Fab Four (Beatles) Taxi Tour birth places
The guide Terry, who turns out was the also the owner, met us at the port as we came off the cruise ship and did a great job of introducing our kids to the Fab Four through entertaining stories and discussion of the lyrics to the well-known songs.

Over the span of the three hours, we visited John Lennon’s place of birth, Paul’s  (still well kept), John’s and Ringo’s  (tear down condition) childhood homes, Paul and John’s college and even John and Cynthia’s ‘honeymoon’ flat.

Our sons enjoyed a karaoke style ride down ‘Penny Lane’ with the obligatory stops at the barber’s shop.Other photo ops were the Strawberry fields and searching for Eleanor Rigby’s tombstone in the church’s graveyard which turns out was somewhat of a fictional character.

Review of Liverpool's the Fab Four (Beatles) Taxi Tour song locations
However, the tour highlight by far was chatting to the late Dave Peters and listening to his eyewitness account of  John Lennon and Paul  Mccartney’s first meeting outside the St Mary’s Church we were visiting. The older gentleman is a natural born storyteller who recounted the story so vividly he had our kids listening to him patiently for more than 30 minutes , asking for additional details

Our short detour.

We had no plans to stop anywhere else in the city as we wanted to get back to the ship for lunch but the guide insisted we couldn’t leave Liverpool without seeing the Cathedral with its magnificent stained glass ceiling.

Autism travel tips:

There are several companies that offer variations of the same tour; some are group tours while others cater to private groups. The group tours are more budget friendly while the private tours can be tailored to each family needs better.
Introduce your kid with autism to the Beatles music ahead of time so he or she can recognize the songs and follow the stories.
Our son who is temperature sensitive liked the fact he didn’t have to walk much and spent most of his time being driven to the various locations while listening to the guide’s stories.
Make sure you pack an umbrella or raincoat since in England the weather in England can be temperamental even in the summertime.
Closed shoes are recommended for walking in the cemetery as the terrain is slightly uneven and can be muddy.

 

Pin It on Pinterest