I’ve been invited to participate in Virgin Atlantic’s #LetItFly challenge (you can participate, too), and I have seven random items in a duffel bag that I’m using to create the perfect London itinerary. Since I’m a mom with two kids, of course we are crafting a spectacular family-friendly journey — but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some action and adventure along the way. We’ve taken each of our items and created a scavenger hunt to help us navigate the British capital. Can you guess what we are going to do next based on these (sometimes) simple clues?
Ready for Take-Off — Day 1
Of course, since we are coming from Los Angeles, we are flying and taking Virgin Atlantic because the best way to start a trip is to fly a fun, innovative, friendly airline that understands the needs of the modern-day traveler — even if they happen to be under five feet tall.
Once we arrive, we will check into The Athenaeum, a luxury, five-star hotel in Mayfair with fully appointed family apartments in the heart of the city. Most likely, we’ll be hitting the sack upon arrival but, in case the kids have energy, the hotel’s dedicated kids’ concierge will already know what their favorite books, movies and snacks are and they will try to have them on hand — making life easier on everyone.
It’s our first full day in London so, it’s finally time for our first clue:
The kids’ concierge at The Athenaeum hotel has already helped arrange a day outside, including cycling through the Royal Parks, a boat ride on the Serpentine, a picnic and even kite-flying. Sign us up!
We are taking it easy after our long flight, so that’s it for day one, but before we call it quits and settle in with a copy of Paddington Bear, a quiet meal close to “home” will hit the spot. Most likely, we are headed to family favorite, Wagamamas. Nothing like a little comfort food when you are tired. Zzzzzz.
And we are ready for our second clue – and this is a tough one:
The Jawbone Up monitors heart rate and fitness and, just like your ticker, this ticks, too (tick-tock) …Where are we headed?
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament is our first stop. We need to get the lay of the land and see some of London’s most iconic attractions, so we are joining up with the Original Tour Hop-On Hop-Off Bus to see the city.
And one special stop will lead us to our third clue.
Here’s a hint: When you turn this necklace upside down, it looks like a tiny crown. Now, where in London would you go to look at a spectacular collection of jewels?
That’s right, we are definitely getting off at the Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels. And our visit wouldn’t be complete without a free tour from a Beefeater or Yeoman Warder of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and the Tower of London — boy is that a mouthful. With so much to do at the Tower, it’s good to know that you can come back and continue exploring on another day. And, if we purchase a London Pass, our entrance will be free, as well as the entrance to more than 60 other attractions in the city — definitely picking up one of those.
Afterward, a stop for lunch at a local pub to refuel is probably in order before heading out for the afternoon. It could be a wild one!
Which leads us to clue number four:
What are you going to do with a bucket in London? Well, you might need to bail out some water if you take a ride in one of these:
Blast off on a whirwind, 50-minute ride along the Thames River onboard an RIB powerboat. The high-speed tour takes in some of London’s most recognizable landmarks such as the O2 Arena, the London Eye, the Shard, the Houses of Parliament and more. That’s sure to get our heart rates up — better strap on the Jawbone for this one!
After that, we will travel like true locals and take the “tube” back to our hotel to rest up for an evening on the West End where we can take in a play such as “The Lion King”, “Matilda,” or “Cats.”
We begin with another difficult clue:
Where do you need to “roll” up your sleeves?
In the kitchen of course. At Kids in the Kitchen, Sunday morning classes are 2.5 hours long during which time the children will make their own lunch.
And, what’s the best part? Parents will have some down time while the kids are cooking to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee and a spa treatment at the Athenaeum’s beautiful spa. An Elemis deep-tissue massage? Yes, please! Maybe a Moroccan Rose Ritual? We wouldn’t say no.
And that leaves us refreshed to figure out our sixth clue:
So, I’ve always heard that you are not to wear flip-flops in London lest you be mistaken for a Californian. So, if we don’t want to seem like “fish out of water,” maybe we should head to…
The SeaLife Aquarium, of course. We are spending the afternoon checking out the sharks and feeding the fish. It’s right across from the London Eye so maybe, after our Behind the Scenes Tour, we will take a turn on the high-flying Ferris wheel, which is among the world’s largest, for fantastic sunset views of the whole city.
As our day concludes, we realize that we have reached our final clue.
Is this the end of the journey? Maybe, but what better way to keep our memories alive forever than to write them down.
Want to know what living our London itinerary would look like? Here is a quick preview: