So we tried, but we couldn’t figure out how to easily and cheaply get a ride on this airship to go around London. You could do the red double-decker bus thing for getting around London, or go in a traditional London black cab if you want to splurge out. Neither is a bad option, but come on, they’re hardly the height of creativity. You’ll have the same experiences and pictures as everyone else who’s ever come to London, and will have little to show for your personal genius. Do one or both for sure – the kids will love it. But don’t be content with mediocrity – take on superhero status, and give your kids a day out in London where even the bits between the bits are a little different. How about getting round and seeing London in a duck, with wheeled feet, dragged by a mad cyclist, on a speedboat, or in a whole host of different ways?
If your children are able to skate (inline or trad quad roller skates), and as importantly if you are able to, then you could go around London in a marshalled street skate with a big bunch of other casual skaters, and usually with music. The routes always vary, but starting is always at the Serpentine in Hyde Park. This gives you a chance to skate up and down the path there, which itself is fun, before joining the skate which kicks off at 2pm every Sunday. They advertise the route in advance on their website, and the skate marshalls make sure that drivers are always aware so that the skate is safe. On the Sunday rides (they do adult ones on Fridays) they even ensure that the music is profanity free for the kids!
If they (or you) are not so ambitious, you could use two wheels and go for a bicycle tour with the the London Bicycle Tour Company. They have bikes and accessories for kids and adults, including helmets and locks, as well as tandems, child seats and buggies. If your conscience is at ease with deception, you can even hire an electric bicycle from them. They can give you a map for a route, or you could use one of our children’s day themed itineraries, or go with one of their guides if you prefer.
If you gave up using your own muscles for motion with your bell-bottoms, then you could always pay someone to do the sweating for you (not in a way that your spouse would disapprove of). You could use one of London’s increasing army of bicycle rickshaws. These guys will give you a tour, or take you from one place to another much like a cab. Except a lot slower. Which is great for sightseeing. Although they are all around London, the best place to find them is in Frith Street near Cambridge Circus (nearest tube stop Tottenham Court Road).
If the route is too dry for you, you could always slip inside a duck and show your kids London by street and river. An enterprising groups of people have taken amphibious vehicles used for the D Day landings in World War II, and refitted and equipped them for civilian use. They then take you round a variety of different routes they have, first by road, before launching straight into the river by the offices of MI6, the British secret service. Check out their website for a change from the standard double decker tour rides of London.
Finally, if doing it on water really is your thing, and an amphibian vehicle has one too many modes of transport for you, you could take to the river. The obvious route is to go use the river service offered by Transport for London, which is a commuter service that despite being purely functional, is still a great way to see London from a different vantage point. However, for something a little different, you could try the speedboats run by London RIB voyages. ‘Speed’ is a relative term here, as they only hit 35 knots, but that is faster than most other boats on the Thames, and they have special facilities and rides for children. Finally, if the Thames feels too much like a wide and predictable thing, you could always take a boat through the Regent’s canal in the north of London. The London Waterbus takes routes that include London Zoo, Camden market, and Lord’s cricket ground. You can find their details on their site.
Or, you could be like everyone else and use the tube to power your family days out in London. But we think if nature had intended us to travel underground, we’d have been born worms. And not all the people we know fit that description.