6 Ideas for Entertaining Kids When Traveling in England
People thought (and still think) we are crazy for traveling with our toddler. Some days I completely agree, but as long as we plan things out, Eleanor can be fun to travel with. Of course, having a toddler in tow adds a level (ok 5 levels) of difficulty and it's not like traveling in our 20's when we could bar hop all night and lounge around in our pajamas for an hour or two before deciding to go out for brunch the next day. Oh no. Life is now lived on a much more rigid schedule.
So, if we can't spend a full day in a museum or chat for hours at the pub, what is one to do while traveling then?
Here are 6 ideas for entertaining kids when traveling in the English countryside. Eleanor was only 13 months when we were in England, but these activities can be enjoyed by children of all ages.
1. Tour Kid-Friendly Sights
So this one is not too out there, but it's worth a mention. Instead of spending your time dragging your kids from one cultural exhibit to the next, consider visiting an old castle like Warwick that caters to children. If your kids are older, you can look up the history beforehand and make it come to life. Think about watching an age-appropriate film that centers on English history or making a meal that would have been eaten at the castle before your visit. This will help get your kids involved and be more excited about sightseeing.
2. Playgrounds in Restaurants
Playgrounds are a godsend for parents everywhere. It's a great place for kids to let off steam and the parents to get to relax a little bit (or at least sit down for 10 seconds at a time). In England, we discovered these amazing restaurants with play yards inside. We're not talking a dinky 3-foot slide and foam blocks either. These were 3-story bouncy play houses with huge spiral slides, ball pits, and fully padded walls. The best part is that the parents can sit nearby with their drinks while their little ones play. If your kids are older, you can eat in the restaurant and watch them through a wall of windows while they play. The restaurant we went to only had a £1 per hour entrance fee which was well worth it.
3. Pubs with Outdoor Seating
This is for Mommy & Daddy’s sanity. I mean how can you spend a month in England and not go to the pub? The answer is you can't or at least you shouldn't. Thankfully, Buckden's pub, The Vine, has an amazing outdoor area completely fenced in with picnic tables, grass and an area filled with stones. Eleanor is young enough to still be fascinated by stones and can spend hours moving piles of rocks from one place to another. If your children are older, they could easily bring outside toys to play with.
4. Fun on the Farm
Our friend told us about a super cute farm called Johnsons of Old Hurst and our only regret was that we did not go there sooner. Eleanor loved it and so did we. For the kids there are lots of different animals to look at (they even have crocodiles) and a great play area. For the adults, there is a cute tea room (with amazing scones) and shops where you can buy not just souvenirs, but delicious meats, cheeses, and produce.
5. Transportation Alternatives
We're not sure if many kids like riding in the car, but we know Eleanor is not a fan of her carseat. So when at all possible, we look at other modes of transportation like buses, trains, and bikes. Even a good hike is more fun for all of us than an hour long stint in the car. In Cambridge we rented bikes. We took the train to and from London to Buckden. And of course we rode the Tube extensively when we stayed in London at the end of our month in England.
6. Visiting Old English Villages
The English countryside is dotted with small villages that each have their own character. As a way to see more of the culture of England we dialed back some of our "tourist" plans and stayed closer to home. To do this we took shorter half-day excursions to neighboring villages instead of long treks between the well-known sights. We went out for pub-fare in St. Neots, drove over narrow bridges in Offords, and even went to the "beach" in Huntingdon. That last one is funny because I grew up 20 minutes away from Huntington Beach in southern California and spent large parts of my high school summers there. Just another full-circle moment.
These are just some of the simpler ways we made it easier to travel with our toddler. Now it's your turn. Do you travel with your children? If so, what words of advice would you offer to others looking to do the same?
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