The second leg of our family trip (toddler, mother-in-law, and family friend) included some major shopping, museum seeking and of course high tea. We pretty much nailed a series of activities that entertained our multigenerational group.
Shopping at Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus is a public space and a tube stop where all of your major shopping can commence. It was from here we found our way to Fortnum and Mason, the premier department store where I stocked up on English teas in pretty tins and tea towels that I would later frame for my kitchen. We gawked at the fancy hat department and the custom perfume counter. As was fair, we spent equal amounts of time in the multilevel Hamley's toy store, stocking up on figures of Disney princes and all the other goodies our little princess could fit in her suitcase. We were greeted warmly by Hamley the Bear himself and adorable British ladies dressed as rag dolls. Carnaby Street offered more shopping for stylish, trendy clothing.
Tea at sketch
Our English tea experience was one of a kind. This is probably my #1 recommendation for anyone traveling to London for any period of time- make the time and spend the money to do tea here at sketch. You will never forget it. It's difficult to figure out if this whimsical space is a coffee bar, modern art museum, elegant restaurant, or hipster art space. The answer is "Yes." Let's just say you have never seen bathrooms like this and there's a reason that sketch is one of the most Instagrammed places in London.
The British Museum's history alone is astonishing. It's like the museum should be in a museum. I really wish I had devoted more time to our visit, but we were able to take in the incredible structure itself and see so many breathtaking exhibits. We peered at silent mummies and tried to catch a glance of the Rosetta Stone over the heads of other foreigners before resting our feet in the Great Hall. And yes, I am one of those people who gives a healthy percentage of my museum-judging to the caliber of gift shop. Whoa- this one is among the best I have ever been to. Never-ending and set up nicely, the gift shop offers keepsakes for everyone of all ages.
This vast outdoor space was walking distance from our apartments and we spent our last chilly and rather windy morning here. We followed along the dedicated Princess Diana memorial path and found Peter Pan's statue, catching his shadow of course. There's neat little app that you can download to your phone so Peter can "call" your kids while standing in front of the sculpture. There was also a wonderful pirate boat themed play space for the kids. The walk gave us time to reflect on our time in a new favorite metropolis.
London is huge and planning a visit can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you have a larger group or are planning for a range of ages. Overall, I was pleased with the mix of must-see landmarks that we were able to see in person (of which I wrote about in Part 1) and the special, memory-making moments at places that took some more research to find.