Family Travel in the United Kingdom and Harry Potter Highlights
Harry Potter highlights were top priority when we decided to travel with the family to the United Kingdom over the kid’s Christmas break. Our kids are ages 9 and 11, a perfect age for Harry Potter mania. Big Ben and Buckingham Palace were going to be great, but The Making of Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio tour would be the highlight of the trip. Did I mention this trip was a Christmas surprise? Plane tickets, our itinerary, and a packing list were wrapped under tree until Christmas morning. Our flight left at 2PM later that day!
Buying tickets to The Making of Harry Potter, Warner Bros. Studio tour was our first planning step. These sell out all the time, so if you are going, buy them right away. We waited and almost missed out. Please note, this is not a theme park with rides. It’s really an amazing tour of the sets and props used in the making of the movies. (They do have butter beer for purchase!) Our kids ages were perfect for this. Any younger and they might not find the same magic in it that we did. Once we had our Harry Potter tickets, we planned the rest of our trip!
Packing light (backpacks only) is also a priority for us. We like to move around and don’t want too much to carry. Travel to the United Kingdom in December and January is very cold. Colder than we expected. You need your warmest winter coat, a warm hat at ALL times, gloves, boots, and layers!
Oxford was our first home base. The city of Oxford is so charming and offers restaurants, shopping and lots of historical intrigues. Our Airbnb apartment was literally next door to the Oxford Castle. Each day we had to walk through the castle to go into the city center. We loved it. The location was dynamite. We did the full tour of the castle and thoroughly enjoyed it. There was also a delightful wine bar café right outside the castle. The kids had hot chocolate, we had wine, and we shared a meat/cheese platter to die for.
The great hall in Christ’s Church was an unexpected gem. Portraits of Oxford Alumni lined the walls of the great dining hall. It felt just like Harry Potter. We thought they might start hopping frame to frame. There are spots in the corridor and outside where Harry Potter filming took place. There was also a lovely lady working the day we visited who was a wealth of knowledge about the Christ’s Church College (the largest college of Oxford) and Oxford History. “Alice and Wonderland” originated here and was written by a mathematics lecturer, Mr. Dodgson, for Alice, the Dean’s daughter. Don’t miss this amazing stop.
The Warwick Castle is a day trip from Oxford. It’s a 90 min. train ride to Warwickshire and a 10-minute walk to the castle. We opted for a castle tour because there is so much history the tour guides can share. My son was disappointed we could not tour the dungeons because 10 and under were not allowed. (Because my daughter was 9 we all skipped it.)
Bath is another great day trip from Oxford. The Roman Baths Tour was fascinating, and the kids loved it. Bath is full of shops and restaurants and historic buildings and cathedrals. Don’t miss enjoying Bath when you travel.
Next stop in our family travel in the United Kingdom was Edinburgh. We took the train from King’s Cross Station in London to Edinburgh. It’s around 5 hours of gorgeous views. We loved every minute of the ride. The view of Old Edinburgh when you walk out of the train station is fantastic. Walking the streets of Edinburgh inspired the creative juices in my writing. I couldn’t help imagining J.K.Rowling, Alexander McCall Smith, and Diana Gabaldon walking the same streets deep in thought. The National Gallery of Scotland was the most pleasant surprise. My kids loved the Monet out of Legos display.
The collection of art was beyond impressive. Edinburgh Castle was another terrific choice. We were able to see the Crown Jewels of Scotland including the Stone of Destiny. Our kids watched “The Stone of Destiny” on Netflix before we went. It’s a cute movie portraying a true story. It added significance and meaning to what they were seeing. Giving kids background history before we travel is a must.
Inverness was our next travel destination. Inverness is truly a Highlander experience. You can visit the Battle of Culloden site and soak in the deep history. Our kids have had a long-time fascination with Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. We took a bus from Inverness to Loch Ness. It’s breathtaking. We were blessed with snow and sheep all along the sides of the road. I’m pleased to report we definitely spotted Nessie and have pictures to prove it!
We ended our travel journey in London with the grand finale of The Making of Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio. This was a kid focused trip, so although we did a drive by of the London highlights including riding the London Eye and seeing Buckingham Palace. We had a blast walking through Hyde Park and the Lego Store near Westminister in London was awesome! And of course The Making of Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio did not disappoint. I highly recommend it to Harry Potter fans.