This is going to be the year of European travel.
Calling it right now.
The dollar is up and the Euro is down (10-year record low!), which means travelhounds everywhere will be getting a lot more for less when visiting Europe.
Even the British pound is down (this Anglophile’s heart is doing the Drunk Giraffe Dance), which means there’s no better time to pack up your kids and your suitcase full of marmalade sandwiches to see Great Britain through Paddington’s eyes.
The Peruvian bear’s comic misadventures hit the big screen earlier this year, inspiring Visit Britain, the national tourist board for England, Scotland and Wales, to curate family-friendly adventures in fairytale castles, royal palaces, mysterious forests, even train stations, all following in the beloved bear-turned-Londoner’s paw prints.
Here’s just a few of the marvelous ideas they’ve come up with to kickstart your wanderlust:
- Enjoy a Paddington-themed Afternoon Tea for kids complete with marmalade (of course) at the Draycott Hotel in London. There’s also an exclusive “Get Lost in London with Paddington” package that gives families a fun way to follow in Paddington’s furry footsteps with adventures around the city. In addition to accommodations and amenities (a take-home Paddington and official Paddington Bear guide and scrapbook), the package offers an exclusive bus tour through Paddington’s favorite places in London.
- Reach toy nirvana at Hamleys in London. Found in 1760, it’s the oldest toy shop in the world and one of the best known retailers in Britain. Boasting seven floors and more than 50,000 toys, it’s considered one of the city’s major tourist attractions.
- Portobello Road in West London is home to one of the most famous second-hand street markets in the world. A popular destination for Londoners and tourists alike, it’s a bustling scene with stands and boutiques offering a colorful array of all things, including vintage fashions, classic records, old gramophones and more.
- Explore the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum of Childhood in London’s Bethnal Green. Home to the largest collection of childhood objects in the UK, kids can check out everything from Victorian praxinoscopes to Barbie dolls dating from the 1600s to present day. Better yet, admission is free! (Special events, exhibits and extras like food/drink and souvenirs are not.)
- Roam the halls at the Natural History Museum in London (Nicole Kidman’s Paddington character works there) where a host of natural wonders are housed. Kids can peep everything from complete dinosaur skeletons to cases holding more than 80 million items within five main collections: botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology and zoology.
- Hop a train at Paddington Station. One of London’s main railway stations, Paddington is the main point for travel to the west of England, and is where a certain duffle coat-wearing bear was found by the Brown family. It’s the perfect starting point for a British adventure, with trains going to the historic univeristy city of Oxford, Windsor Castle (the oldest occupied castle, the longest occupied palace in Europe and the Queen’s favorite weekend home), and Bath, a charming city that Jane Austen once called home.
Where will you go first?
Join the conversation with #paddingtonsbritain and see how others are sharing their love for the most beloved bear in all of bookdom.
Photo credit: Visit Britain (second image only)