Can you suggest London must dos for a family of three - ages 6 , 9 and 11 - for two weeks in July 2010, plus one child-friendly great European city? Thank you.
There is so much to see and do in London but here are the sights and activities that children love most. First up, book a "flight" on the London Eye (www.londoneye.com), London's 135m high observation wheel on the South Bank. The views are amazing and you can put the whole of London into perspective during your 30-minute ride.
Included in the ticket price is their new 4D Experience film which your older children will love but your youngest might find scary.
You also have great views from the top of St Paul's Cathedral. Its dome is the largest in the world and fun to climb, remembering to put the Whispering Gallery to the test (www.stpauls.co.uk/cathedral-history/explore-the-dome) on the way up. The most interesting way to approach St Paul's Cathedral is from the South Bank, crossing the river on the Millennium Footbridge (known as the "wobbly bridge").
Further East is London's more famous Tower Bridge, which is beautifully lit at night but great to see in the daytime, especially when the bridge opens for large vessels to pass through. Click
for bridge opening times.
Also close to the river is Somerset House (www.somersethouse.org.uk), a neo-classical building which used to be a Tudor Palace and is now an arts centre. On a hot July days, this is where London families go to cool off because in its large courtyard there are 55 fountains that sprout from the ground like springs and children of all ages have a great time running around and through them (bring your bathers).
From here you can walk up to Covent Garden Market and watch a variety of buskers (acrobats, jugglers, magicians and opera singers) entertain the crowds (youngsters can sit at the front). Your eldest children might also enjoy buying crafty, handmade souvenirs from the market stalls.
Finally, London is full of wonderful parks and museums. One of the best open spaces in the city is Kew Gardens (www.kew.org) where your youngest will love its playground called Climbers and Creepers and your older children will want to climb the Treetop Walkway and marvel at the giant water lilies and experience the rainforest environment in the Palm House.
One museum to recommend out of the hundreds in London is the Florence Nightingale Museum (www.florence-nightingale.co.uk). It is re-opening in May 2010 after refurbishment, just in time for the centenary of her death.
A child-friendly European city? After your long flight from New Zealand, you probably won't feel like getting on another plane. As such, why not take the Eurostar train (www.eurostar.com) under the Channel Tunnel to either Brussels, Lille, Paris or Disneyland Paris? Trains from the St Pancras International (www.stpancras.com) in London run direct to all four destinations and the journey time is only a few hours or less.
However, for a once-in-a-lifetime trip, go to Paris and take them up the Eiffel Tower.