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London, Tower Hill

Evenings with a 13 year old

So after much deliberation, my SO and I are taking his son to London for his 13th birthday. My SO was born in the UK and he and I have been there several times since he left as a young child. Now though, we have a child in tow, and we are wondering about how to spend our evenings. We are staying at the @novoteltowerhill for the week - not how we typically travel, but for a 13 year old I expect it to be a wow surprise vacation. So far, I have three ideas: @londoneye, @thames river boat ride, evening walk along @southbank, and a movie. Other ideas?

9 Answers

answered first by
Janelle from Charleston

If you're going during season (mid August thru mid May), then a match is fun for the whole family.  Premier league tickets are expensive and hard to come by, but a lower league match is cheaper and just as fun.  Queens Park Rangers FCCharlton Athletic Football ClubBrentford Football Club and Leyton Orient FC are lower tier teams in greater London.  I wouldn't recommend Millwall because their fans have a bad reputation for rowdyism.  If you do want to spring for a Premier League match, then Fulham Football Club LimitedCrystal Palace Football Club and West Ham United Football Club tickets are easier to come by than Chelsea, Arsenal or Tottenham.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Queens Park Rangers FC (attraction)
  2. Charlton Athletic Football Club (attraction)
  3. Brentford Football Club (attraction)
  4. Leyton Orient FC (attraction)
  5. Fulham Football Club Limited (attraction)
  6. Crystal Palace Football Club (attraction)
  7. West Ham United Football Club (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Lyn from Manhattan Beach

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Tower of London (attraction)
  2. Changing of the Horse Guards (attraction)
  3. Windsor Castle (attraction)
  4. Piccadilly Circus (attraction)
  5. Royal Observatory (attraction)
  6. Golden Hinde (attraction)
  7. Borough Market (attraction)
  8. Notting Hill Farmers' Market (attraction)
  9. Covent Garden (attraction)
comments (2)

answered by
Cathy from Brussels

Another option is the Jack The Ripper guided tour in the East End.  In true serial killer style - Jack was, after all, the first properly documented serial killer - this takes place at night, and is fabulously interesting, especially given that most teens have a particular interest in ghoulish things. 

There are several companies offering these tours, and most leave from Aldgate East Station in Whitechapel.  Although the focus is obviously on the Ripper and his murders, the tours also provide interesting insight into the slums of the East End during Victorian times, with its dominantly immigrant population.

My only slight concern about these tours is that they are in danger of being a victim of their own success, and can get very crowded in high season.  They're still well worth doing, but are probably more evocative if you're visiting at a time of year when there are less tourists and the weather is grey and rainy and … well … typical of London.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Aldgate East Station (attraction)

answered by
Cathy from Brussels

Camden Lock Market is also achingly 'hip', and a sure fire winner with virtually all teens, by virtue of its quirky shops and even quirkier clientele.  There are a bewildering number of eateries - mostly stalls where you can buy interesting takeaway food to eat at communal tables (if you can find one) - or you could play it safe and go to the local Wetherspoons Plc, which offers excellent value pub grub.

The most interesting way to get to Camden Lock market is to take a boat trip on the Regent's Canal.  The trip goes from Little Venice, a very cool riverside section of Maida Vale, and a short walk from Paddington Station (probably worth a stop here to see the statue of the famous bear himself).  By London standards, the canal is a reasonably well kept secret, and winds its way through the backyards of some very upmarket suburbs, and also skirts London Zoo (at certain times of the day/year, you can break your journey and stop off here to enter the Zoo, if that's of interest to your teen - if so, brace yourself for another 'arm and a leg' onslaught on your budget).  The canal itself is leafy and sections of it are used as moorings for houseboats - Sir Richard Branson lived on one of these in his youth.  It's really relaxing to watch people jogging/walking their dogs along the towpath, and there's a fair amount of wild life - fairly tame stuff of the ducks variety, unless you count the African Wild Dogs, whose enclosure abuts the canal.

From Camden Lock, you can catch the Tube from Camden Town.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Camden Lock Market (attraction)
  2. Wetherspoons Plc (restaurant)
  3. Little Venice (attraction)
  4. Paddington Station (attraction)
  5. London Zoo (attraction)

answered by
Cathy from Brussels

It's a bit tricky to anticipate what will appeal to a 13 year old, and the options may vary a bit depending on the time of year you're visiting.

We visit London regularly and were last there this February with our 14 and 11 year olds.  The hands down winner was the London Eye, both for the views and the interactive display in the cabin which allows you to access information on the buildings you can see.  Look up the time that the sun sets and try to coordinate your visit for around that time so that you can appreciate the day vs night views - you may even see the sun set, depending on the weather :).  Use the online booking option to reduce your queueing time.

Another unusual option is the cable car across the Thames from Emirates Royal Docks.  It crosses a meandering section of the Thames downstream of Central London, so the perspective over the city is unusual - allowing you glimpses of the Thames Barrier and London City Airport.  It has the added bonus of being 'cheap as chips' (as opposed to the London Eye, which will cost you an arm and a leg), and if you buy an Oystercard, it's unexpectedly valid for the cable car as well.  It's also very accessible from where you're staying - get the Docklands Light Railway from Tower Hill (it's just around the corner from the tube station, and fairly well signposted) and travel to Royal Docks, then get the Tube from North Greenwich at the other end.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. London Eye (attraction)
  2. Emirates Royal Docks (attraction)
  3. Thames Barrier (attraction)
  4. London City Airport (attraction)
  5. North Greenwich (attraction)

answered by

Consider staying in an Air BnB condo. Everyone has their own space and you have a kitchen. We rented a beautiful condo in Camden Town in London right on a canal last year. It even had a washer and dryer so we came home with a suitcase full of clean clothes. We never stay in hotels anymore. I've used them all of the world and have never been disappointed.

See if you can catch an age appropriate play or try one of their big movie houses. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Camden Town (neighborhood)

answered by

Does he read Sherlock Holmes?  Take him to 221B Baker St.  The Sherlock Holmes Museum is great!  The Tower Of London is good... get in on a Beefeater tour.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. 221B Baker St (attraction)
  2. The Sherlock Holmes Museum (attraction)
  3. Tower Of London (attraction)

answered by
Hazel from Port St. Lucie

Walking all over, it is free, stop at one place for appetizer, another for entree and another for dessert.

answered by

Have you thought of taking him to a play?  When I took my 13 year old grandson we went to three plays - one Shakespeare in the park, and two regular plays.  One of them was the Mousetrap which my mother too my son to when he was 14. 

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