This summer all eyes will be on London as the 2012 Olympic games are scheduled for July 27 to August 12. Thinking you’d like to bring your family to check out some of the events, but worried about the crowds? Consider a visit to southwest England instead, where you’ll be a quick and easy train ride into London. Since many of these cities are worthwhile tourist destinations themselves, you’ll be sure to find plenty to do. Check out these family-friendly spots and you may find yourself skipping London altogether.
Oxford is the home of one of the world’s most famous universities as well as the birthplace of Alice in Wonderland. Young Harry Potter fans will surely be thrilled by the dining hall at Christ Church College, which stood in for Hogwarts in the films. Try punting (riding in a flat-bottomed boat) or simply stroll along the Cherwell River, and be sure to visit the Oxford Dodo at the Oxford Museum of Natural History – also home to a large number of dinosaur bones. The nearby Blenheim Palace makes a great day outing with kids, offering not only a chance to see Winston Churchill’s birthplace but a miniature train, hedge maze and butterfly house on the property.
The Barcelo Oxford Hotel is two miles outside the city center and offers shuttles to downtown as well as to Blenheim. It also has an indoor pool and family rooms as well as onsite amenities like laundry facilities and babysitting.
A bit farther east, you’ll find the ancient city of Bath, which is close to Stonehenge, and also home to the Roman Baths Museum, where kids can learn about England’s earliest people as well as what the town looked like during the Roman Empire.
It doesn’t get much more family friendly that the Woolley Grange Hotel outside of Bath – which in addition to spacious guest rooms – has just about every type of baby and toddler equipment you might need, from high chairs to sanitary wipes. This lovely Jacobean manor house hotel also offers indoor and outdoor pools and play areas for both older and younger children, along with a family-friendly spa.
Be sure to make time in your plans to visit the neighboring city of Bristol, which has a number attractions including an aquarium, a planetarium, a zoo and the SS Britain, a restored 19th-century ship that’s now a fascinating (and kid-friendly) interactive museum. The heart of the city is a restored harbor, which is now home to numerous restaurants and, during the third week of July, a huge cultural festival that features music, dance, theatre, and even circus acts.
The Radisson Blu Hotel Bristol overlooks the harbor and offers special treats for its young guests, like a dedicated check-in area, a welcome fun pack, and other family-friendly programs like make-your-own pizza nights in the hotel’s restaurant Filini.
It’s a short train ride between Bristol and Bath, so you can easily stay in either city and see the other.
If you’d like to get a little closer to London without trying to stay in the city proper, Windsor may be your best bet with kids. There’s lots to do in this charming town just 31 miles from Central London – including a tour of Queen Elizabeth’s favorite weekend cottage, Windsor Castle. And of course, no family visit to Windsor would be complete without spending a day at LEGOLAND.
Stay at the Copthorne Hotel Slough Windsor and you’ll be only four miles from the park. This hotel offers large family rooms, an indoor pool, and, for a small fee, a children’s concierge that will provide everything from teddy bears to jelly beans.
Windsor is close enough to London that if you want to take in some of the Olympic events, you could easily do so. It’s also a quick cab ride from Heathrow Airport.
Will you be visiting the United Kingdom during the 2012 Summer Olympics? Share your plans in the comments below.Google+