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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Going in June. Family trip (1 teenager). We've decided against Scotland/Ireland.

So - strictly within a couple hours of London, what would you recommend we see & do?
 

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It's my neck of the woods, well originally.

Guildford is my town and worth a visit.

Chichester has a beautiful cathedral and a huge old roman villa.

A trip along the south coast - Brighton Pavillion maybe.

If you like to walk there's all kinds of trails on both the North Downs and the South Downs.

For the South, drive to Steyning in Sussex, see the Norman church and go up to the South Downs Way. Here's the view looking North over Steyning

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I'm not an expert, but to help you get better advice from those who are, a few questions:

- are you planning to stay in London the whole time, so you're considering only day trips, or would you consider some overnight trips outside London?

-your couple hours, is that by train, or are you considering renting a car? If the latter, keep in mind that driving on the "wrong" side of the road takes some special thought, but is very doable outside the city. Driving within London itself is a whole other kind of adventure. I only drove there for a few hours -- we spent a few days in London, then rented a car to visit some other parts of the country, but just getting out of town was intense, and I've driven in New York a fair amount.

-what kind of stuff interests you and your teenager? History, art, natural landscapes, architecture, performing arts, etc. There are museums of all sorts, and the historic buildings in London and elsewhere are awesome.

Some specific suggestions, though you already know of many of these:

In London: Buckingham Palace, Houses of Parliament, St. Paul's (go up in the dome), the British Museum.

Outside London: Oxford, Cambridge, Canterbury, Bath. If anyone in the family is into airplanes and tanks, the Imperial War Museum at Duxford (near Cambridge) is extremely cool.

I'm sure you'll get more detailed advice from others. Have fun.
 

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Agree that more info would help.

There is plenty to see and do in London. I would not use it as a base to travel. Perhaps split the vacation into 2 parts?

What airport?

The logistics and cost of car rental may mean it's better to do the car part first, return it to the airport, then go into London.
 

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I enjoyed Southern England a lot. I think I spent about 10 days in the area, driving around. It may be considered a suburb of London but Surrey to the south is lush, lovely and peppered with cute towns, Think of it as London's Marin County. Eat lunch in Dorking. Wiltshire to the west has Stonehenge. Dorset, further to the west, is veritably festooned with ancient, pre-Roman ruins. A highlight is the Cerne Giant, an enormous (and well-endowed) figure cut into the turf in white. In Cornwall, further to the west, the ruins of the stone village of Chysauster are straight out of The Hobbit. Cadbury Castle in Somerset could well be the original Camelot. The Long Man of Wilmington in East Sussex is another giant, this one carved into a hillside.
 

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You can find ASFOS and bop him on the head.

Hope you make it to Scotland and Ireland someday, I loved those parts.
 

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The Cotswolds is a really nice area, I thought. Probably pretty dull for a teen though. I forget how long it took to get there from London.

If you've never been to London plan on a lot of time there. It's a great city with something for all types of interests. It's expensive though but exchanges rates have changed quite a bit since I was there so maybe not so bad depending where you're coming from.
 

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Going in June. Family trip (1 teenager). We've decided against Scotland/Ireland.

So - strictly within a couple hours of London, what would you recommend we see & do?
I lived in Cambridge for 4 years. There is quite a lot to see around there, and most of it is walkable. It is about an hour from London via the fast train from Kings Cross. Accommodations are a bit more affordable than London. But definitely spend some time in London, see some of the museums (the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum are among my favorites). London is very expensive.

Are you biking? The countryside around Cambridge is quite pleasant. The traffic in the town itself is fairly insane (I brought my bike and commuted every day, but had the luxury of being able to miss rush hours).
 

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If anyone in the family is into airplanes and tanks, the Imperial War Museum at Duxford (near Cambridge) is extremely cool.
My kids always want to go there. It is definitely worth the effort (but take a cab).

Unless you want to drive to Cornwall or something, I strongly suggest you avoid renting a car.
 

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Surrey is most definitely NOT a suburb of London. Just a terrible descriptor.

Surrey and Sussex are the counties to the South of London.

All the places I mentioned show on this map

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If you're not actually from Betelgeuse, then yes... that answer will do as well as any.
Oh, it was intended to be humorous. Good try :rolleyes:

If you look at English place names, the suffix "ford" comes up frequently for the reason I already mentioned - shallow place.

And surnames often derive from the place of origin. Thus Henry Ford and the Ford motor company, and on to the Ford Prefect, a name used in the UK. Kind of a silly name really for a car. The most common usage would have been as a school prefect, a senior with disciplinary responsibilities.
The car did have a certain dignified appearance though.

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Oh, it was intended to be humorous. Good try :rolleyes:
It wasn't really an attempt to be anything, just a nod to one of my personal favorite books.

If you look at English place names, the suffix "ford" comes up frequently for the reason I already mentioned - shallow place.

And surnames often derive from the place of origin. Thus Henry Ford and the Ford motor company, and on to the Ford Prefect, a name used in the UK. Kind of a silly name really for a car. The most common usage would have been as a school prefect, a senior with disciplinary responsibilities.
The car did have a certain dignified appearance though.

View attachment 312940
Thanks for the well thought out lesson on things I already know, I appreciate your time.
 

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It wasn't really an attempt to be anything, just a nod to one of my personal favorite books.
That deserves a "like." Good catch.
 

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I like Mapei's list, and just meandering by car from village to village would be a lot of fun. Just don't let the short distances deceive you though, the driving is often slow and roundabout. For a more London-centric with day trips, some thoughts:

London is very expensive, and the hotel rooms you will get will seem small by even NY standards, so I would choose carefully--here's a list (haven't tried any of these though):
10 of the best budget hotels in London | Travel | The Guardian

Don't rent a car until you have to--plan on catching the Heathrow Express into the city, or perhaps a cab since there will be a bunch of you. (Save the car rental if you want to get to something outside the city). When planning trips, do out and backs from London--it is hub and spoke with London at the center, east-west navigation is much harder.

In no particular order my favorites in London: National Gallery, Sir John Soane house, Imperial War museum, Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum.

I tell everyone to visit Hampstead Heath, and walk up Parliament Hill and visit Kenwood House (scenes of Julia Roberts doing a movie in Notting Hill were filmed there) great breakfast and Rembrant! (Public transportation and then walk the rest of the way.)

London is like New York though. Just get set with a Tube pass and go see what you can find. Walk anywhere and you can find something interesting. Cabs are expensive, but know where things are, and are not dishonest. Buses are cheap as well, and easily navigated.

I love Church St or Chelsea Street for aimless browsing. South Kensington has Harvey Nichols and Harrods within walking distance of each other, but the string of stores along Oxford Street can't be beat. You can walk the Thames embankment, or walk the linked parks starting by the river (St. James park) and finish in Hyde Park. Visit the Parliament buildings--if in session, there is a "Strangers Gallery" where you can sit and listen to proceedings (although it was some years ago that I visited, so who knows what the security arrangements are now.)

Budget food while wandering--look for the Pret sandwich chain--good quality and affordable.

I would take a day trip to one of the Universities--like wgscott has said, Cambridge is a quick train ride, gorgeous countryside and you can easily spend a day or more wandering around. Or if your teenager was a Harry Potter fans, take a day trip to Oxford.

A day trip the 'seaside'--I would probably avoid Brighton and take the train or drive to Margate--this is where DIckens would decamp to in the summer, and it is small Victorian and there are lots of great walks along the chalk cliffs etc.

Stonehenge--again a car trip--you could combine it with a trip to see Salisbury Cathedral--one of my favorite spots in England. As much as you think 'Stonehenge just a pile of rocks'--it is absolutely worth seeing.

Have fun!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I'm not an expert, but to help you get better advice from those who are, a few questions:

- are you planning to stay in London the whole time, so you're considering only day trips, or would you consider some overnight trips outside London?

This is an open question. We are considering spending a night (or two) in Paris. That leaves 8 or 9 nights in England...I think we'd want to spend at least 6 of those in London. So, at most, 1 or 2 nights in England that are not in London.

I'd prefer day trips, unless it just doesn't make sense (ie. if we want to spend time in the southwest, it may make more sense to sleep near Bath than go back and forth to London).


-your couple hours, is that by train, or are you considering renting a car? If the latter, keep in mind that driving on the "wrong" side of the road takes some special thought, but is very doable outside the city. Driving within London itself is a whole other kind of adventure. I only drove there for a few hours -- we spent a few days in London, then rented a car to visit some other parts of the country, but just getting out of town was intense, and I've driven in New York a fair amount.

I'd like to avoid hiring a car if possible. I'm hoping trains/buses will get us everywhere we want to go.

-what kind of stuff interests you and your teenager? History, art, natural landscapes, architecture, performing arts, etc. There are museums of all sorts, and the historic buildings in London and elsewhere are awesome.

We want to "experience" London. That means not spending every day in a museum/gallery, although there is a short list of museums we are interested in. We'd like to experience the geography of the country (country-side, seaside), visit parks, see the architecture. Get a feel for the culture, as opposed to looking at exhibits.

Some specific suggestions, though you already know of many of these:

In London: Buckingham Palace, Houses of Parliament, St. Paul's (go up in the dome), the British Museum.

Outside London: Oxford, Cambridge, Canterbury, Bath. If anyone in the family is into airplanes and tanks, the Imperial War Museum at Duxford (near Cambridge) is extremely cool.

I'm sure you'll get more detailed advice from others. Have fun.
Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Agree that more info would help.

There is plenty to see and do in London. I would not use it as a base to travel. Perhaps split the vacation into 2 parts?

What airport?

The logistics and cost of car rental may mean it's better to do the car part first, return it to the airport, then go into London.
Why would you not use London as your base? From what I understand, trains can take us to most other towns for day trips. Additionally, I think we'll have at least 6 days worth of things to do & see just in London proper.

Heathrow is our airport.
 
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