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Kia Ora (that’s “hello” in Maori, the native language in my country New Zealand). I recently spent a week in London and I’d like to share with you some cool, exciting things to do for teenagers in this lovely city.
My first piece of advice would be to buy a ZIP Oyster card. It only costs £10 and saves kids a lot of money on transport: half the adult price on the Tube and free on buses!
Up at The O2
Up at The O2 is like walking on the world’s biggest trampoline because the walkway across the top is made from the same bouncy material as The O2 itself. It’s not too difficult to climb and there are brilliant views; good for keen planespotters. It can be a bit windy so definitely bring gloves and a beanie hat. I recommend asking lots of questions as your guide has loads of great answers, like how each of the main tower wires can withstand 12 tons of tension! Things to see from the top include Emirates Air Line, The ArcelorMittal Orbit, the Royal Observatory Greenwich, and London City Airport.
MBNA Thames Clippers
We used a River Roamer ticket on board the MBNA Thames Clippers river bus when we got on at North Greenwich next to The O2. The boat to Embankment is actually really fast and it took us past Canary Wharf, The Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge, and Tate Modern, amongst others. It’s a fun way to travel through the city with comfortable chairs inside and even a small coffee shop. The best views are from the back.
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!
Within the first five minutes at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! London I’d already seen a five-legged lamb and a knitted Ferrari car. I also found the longest nose in history (19cm), a painting created by a horse, a dog face man, and another man who drove nails into his head (don’t try this at home). My recommendation: pull a funny face in the mirror when you arrive in the room containing the world’s fattest and tallest men. Also, make sure you enjoy the mirror mazes and the laser ninja game.
London RIB Voyages
London RIB Voyages disembark next to The London Eye. Again, bring gloves and a hat. This is an experience for people who like rollercoaster rides. We learned some great facts along the way from our funny guide, such as how the river is just centimeters from flooding London twice a day, and how all signs around the world that point towards London use Charing Cross as their reference. We also did some great historic sightseeing including the Houses of Parliament, The Shard, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Tate Modern, St Paul’s Cathedral, Shakespeare’s Globe, and HMS Belfast.
The gameplay experience HintHunt is fun for anyone aged nine years and over and is excellent for families. You have one hour to solve your way out of a locked room. My main tip would be to look in every nook and cranny. I can’t tell you any more than that because I want to keep it a surprise. You will enjoy it though, I promise.
Lee Valley Velopark
Why stick to one type of cycling when you can try four, all in one place? At Lee Valley Velopark, you have a choice of BMX, track, road and mountain biking. We tried the last two. For the mountain biking we tackled a number of the trails that wound around the park, each colour-coded according to their difficulty. Make sure you don’t wear your best clothes for this because you will get muddy. The road track is super-smooth though and bobs up and down along a mile-long course; exhilarating stuff. Afterwards, we went into the Velodrome for a hot drink, which we enjoyed while watching cyclists on the indoor track.
All Star Lanes
All Star Lanes Westfield Stratford is recommended for parents with teenagers who want to add a bit of fun to their dining experience. Look out for the “drink, dine and bowl” offer which comprises two courses plus a drink and a game of bowling. There is also a similar kid’s deal. I started with an Oreo milkshake, which hit the spot, then shared quesadillas with my Dad as a starter. They were zesty, scrumptious and a little bit spicy. The buttermilk chicken with sweet potato fries helped to satisfy Dad’s spicy urges thanks to the jerk gravy, while I had a well-cooked, flavoursome burger. With a game of bowling after dinner (Dad claimed a rare victory this time!), it was a great end to the day. We also had wonderful service. The staff always had a smile on their faces.