A great day trip from London for families is a river cruise to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Maritime Greenwich. Most kids love a boat ride and it's fun to get a completely different perspective of the city of London from the water. We took this trip on a chilly, damp and drizzly day in March but but we were determined not to let the weather dampen our enthusiasm. In any event, we were in no position to complain about the weather as we were in the midst of a 10 day visit to London and this was the only day that was wet - a minor miracle in terms of English weather.
Travel journals are an excellent way to encourage kids to contemplate what they have seen and done on their holidays. Journals can take many forms and will naturally be quite simple for young children and become more sophisticated as they grow older. Depending on the age of the kids there will need to be some parental involvement at first, however, it will gradually become a memento that is entirely produced by your child. Both of my daughters started keeping travel journals at a young age (Katie started hers at the age of 5 and Emma at the age of 4) and they are treasured memories of all the places that we have been.
At least once every summer our family heads north to spend some time on Manitoulin Island where my husband's parents have a cottage. Manitoulin Island is located in the north channel of Lake Huron and at 2,766 square kilometres is the largest freshwater island in the world. The island attracts visitors from around the world as it is a nature lover's paradise with its rugged landscape, extensive hiking trails and 108 inland lakes.
We cruised with Disney Cruise Lines when Emma was 2.5 and she developed a serious crush on Peter Pan.
While in Sudbury, Ontario for Thanksgiving weekend, we decided to take Emma to see The Big Nickel which is the largest coin in the world. The 13 ton, 30 foot high replica of a 1951 Canadian nickel was constructed in 1964 in anticipation of the upcoming Canadian Centennial celebration and is intended to symbolize the contribution that Sudbury's nickel production has made to the Canadian economy. The 'Heads' side of the coin is King George VI and the 'Tails' side is a stylized nickel refinery. The coin is on a base which allows the public to walk around and under it in order to get a good view. There is also a picnic/playground area on site which is convenient for families, particularly if this has just been a pit stop on a car trip.
When our family went on an Alaskan cruise a few years ago it wasn't the glaciers, or the whales or even seeing a moose that made the biggest impression on our kids. The one thing that they couldn't get enough of was the sled dogs.
Our family recently visited Rome, Italy prior to a Mediterranean Cruise. It was my first trip to Rome and although we were only going to be there for 2.5 days I felt that the Vatican had to be on our agenda. We aren't Catholic, or even particularly religious, however, the Vatican has always been someplace that I wanted to see and I felt that it's cultural importance was such that a trip to Rome would be incomplete without visiting.
Shortly before traveling this summer I came across the game Stack the Countries which is available for both iPad and iPhone ($1.99 ) and I downloaded it on to both of these devices. The game involves answering a series of geography questions in order to "earn" a country and the object of the game is to earn all of the countries of the world (195 in total). It was probably the best $1.99 that I have ever spent based on the amount of entertainment the game has provided our family.
*Looking for ideas for fun family vacations? Check out our Family Destination Guides for some of our favourite places to travel with kids!
If you are looking for ideas on where to take your kids then look no further than Frommer's 500 Places to Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up. This book is an excellent resource for parents who want to travel with their kids.