Royal Romps on the Thames

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London isn’t just for grown-ups. Here are three engaging places where families can learn hands-on history with a royal twist in the English capital.

> Tower of London

The Scoop: Approximately three dozen Yeoman Warders (popularly known as Beefeaters) and their families share this medieval fortress with eight ravens, several ghosts, and glittering collections of jewels and armor.

What to Do: Tours by Beefeaters combine spooky stories with witty banter (“It’s great living in a palace until you try to order a takeaway”). Creepier still are the winter Tower Twilight Tours.

> Hampton Court Palace

The Scoop: Henry VIII amassed over 60 houses, but his favorite retreat from the city was Hampton Court Palace, where he entertained his six wives (until divorcing or beheading them).

What to Do: Play hide-and-seek in the U.K.’s oldest (17th-century) surviving maze, whose 7-foot-high hedged pathways lead to false routes and dead ends.

> Kensington Palace

The Scoop: William and Kate spent one million pounds renovating their 20-room “apartment,” where Prince George is the latest resident. The hoi polloi can explore the sumptuous state rooms through interactive exhibits.

What to Do: Scale the giant pirate ship in the nearby Princess Diana Memorial playground, then stroll across Hyde Park for fish-and-chips at the lakeside Lido café.

This piece, written by Rachel Howard, appeared in the August/September 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine. 

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