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Cool London for Cool Kids
As your children grow up they want to do different things. What suits toddlers in London is unlikely to enthrall your 14-year-old. Thankfully, London offers something for everyone so here are some ideas to keep the bigger kids happy.Continue to 2 of 15 below.
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Hit the Shops
The teenagers I know of both sexes like to shop for clothes and when visiting London they'll likely want to buy something their friends don't have back home. Head to Top Shop on Oxford Street for some great High Street fashion. It's the flagship store and it's big enough to spend a few hours in. It's also near to Carnaby Street which is flanked by cool stores like Monki and Jack Wills.
At either end of Oxford Street, there are two enormous branches of Primark which sells cheap and stylish clothes, shoes and accessories.Continue to 3 of 15 below.
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Join a Street Art Walking Tour
London is home to some of the best street art in the world. The walls around east London are covered in work by ever-changing artists. Have a look at these street art photos to give you an idea of the high standard of artwork you're likely to see. I've put together a suggested walking route to find some great street art in and around Shoreditch.
Teenagers often enjoy photography and this would be a great opportunity to get some cool shots of 'real London' for them to post on social media.Continue to 4 of 15 below.
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Conquer clueQuest London and The Escape Hunt
clueQuest is great fun for teams of 3 to 5 people. It's a live escape game and, once locked inside a room, you have 60 minutes to find a way out. You have to work as a team to solve the codes and puzzles and you need to be over 9 years old to truly understand some of the challenges. It's brilliant for families and friends and they stay open late into the evening too.
Similar to clueQuest, The Escape Hunt is another "escape from the locked room" experience but with a Sherlock Holmes-style theme. There are 10 rooms with three different scenarios (so you can have competing teams trying the same task in different rooms).Continue to 5 of 15 below.
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Get Spooked at the London Dungeon
Teenagers and many adults love to be scared. When the kids were younger they would probably have been too frightened to go in this place but now they are a perfect age. I like the London Dungeon as it's good giggly-scary fun and you'll have a real adrenalin rush. The actors are there to entertain so bring it on!Continue to 6 of 15 below.
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Follow a Jack the Ripper Tour
Sticking with the spooky theme, an evening walking tour centered around the gruesome tales of Jack the Ripper in Victorian London is another option for older kids. The walk follows the streets around the east end where the murders took place and the tour guides don't hold back with the gory details.Continue to 7 of 15 below.
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Dine at a Techy Restaurant
Now the kids are older it can be great to go to restaurants together but it still needs to be interesting so try Inamo in Soho where you order your meal through projections on the table. Instead of reading about your food, each dish is projected onto a space where your plate will be so you can get a much better idea of what your meal will look like.
The food is Pan-Asian and I've never had problems finding something for even the fussiest eater. And after you've ordered your drinks and meals you can watch the 'Chef Cam' and see it all being prepared in the kitchen! There are also games to play to keep you entertained while waiting for everyone to finish.Continue to 8 of 15 below.
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Go to Court
Forget the TV, this is real life. Visitors over 14 are allowed in the public galleries at courts to watch trials, including the most famous criminal court in the world, the Old Bailey. (The correct name is the Central Criminal Court but the name Old Bailey is still used regularly.)
You can sit in the public galleries and see trials in session from Monday to Friday between 10: 30 a.m. and 1 p.m., and between 2 and 4 p.m. Some cases are more popular than others and as there is no reserved seating you may need to wait in line. Also, there are restrictions on what you can take in (no cameras, video equipment, mobile phones, portable music devices, bags, food or drink) and there are no lockers so it's best to not carry anything with you when visiting.Continue to 9 of 15 below.
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Try Afternoon Tea
I'm an advocate for afternoon tea for all age groups but I know teenagers enjoy being treated like an adult and at afternoon tea the service is as important as the quality of the tea and cakes.
I've been to most afternoon tea venues in London so I've broken down my reviews into lists by price and my favorites to help you choose. The top places in London usually have to be booked up to 3 months in advance but there are many other great places to try too.
If you have younger children with you too these are the Best Places for Afternoon Tea in London with Kids.Continue to 10 of 15 below.
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Climb The O2
Why just visit The O2 when you can climb over it? Up at The O2 is a challenging but exhilarating experience that takes you 52 meters above ground level. The walkway feels like an enormous trampoline as you climb up on tensile fabric. Definitely more fun than an urban climbing wall!Continue to 11 of 15 below.
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Try Liquid Nitrogen Ice-cream
Ice cream is not just for small kids, I can assure you. London has many great places for ice cream but my absolute favorite is Chin Chin Laboratorists in Camden where you get freshly-prepared liquid nitrogen ice cream! It's amazing to watch it being made for you and photos are allowed. It really is the coolest ice cream in town!Continue to 12 of 15 below.
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Spot Celebs at Madame Tussauds
Like it or not, celebrities play a big part in teenagers' lives and getting up close to some big names can be fun for the whole family. Madame Tussauds London is all about fun. Music plays when you arrive and you can hug your idols and get some great photo opportunities. There are pop stars and actors, as well as sporting legends and historical figures.Continue to 13 of 15 below.
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Ride a Boris Bike
London's cycle hire scheme is a great way to see the city. The bikes are quite heavy but there are docking stations all over central London so you can cycle between attractions or just head out and see what you find. The scheme is run by Transport for London and all of the bikes are maintained regularly making this a cost effective way to get off the beaten track. TfL also has some suggested cycle route maps to give you some ideas where to explore.
If you want to take cycling to the next level why not visit the Lee Valley VeloPark where the London 2012 Olympic Games cycling events were held? There are BMX and mountain bike trails plus an awesome velodrome.Continue to 14 of 15 below.
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Take a Thrilling Boat Ride on the Thames
It's always worth including a boat trip on The Thames on any trip to London but that doesn't have to be a sedate cruise. Thamesjet is a super-fast RIB (rigid inflatable boat) that can travel up to 40mph which is the speed limit in central London. It's good for sightseeing but definitely great for thrill seekers. It's a bit like a water-based roller coaster with all the twists and turns.Continue to 15 of 15 below.
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I didn't get to tell you about getting tickets for a TV show recording or about seeing a Leicester Square film premiere. Or how much fun it is to be in Parliament Square when Big Ben chimes, or getting your photo taken hanging out of a red telephone box, or making like a Beatle at the famous Abbey Road crossing. I didn't mention Kew Gardens (which is free for under 17s), or the London Eye, or the circular River Cruise. Of course, bowling is always fun. Or how about playing ping pong at Bounce London? Or what about a night at The Medieval Banquet? Right, now I'll stop.