For a teen visiting London what are some cool, organized activities?
January 26, 2015 5:57 AM   Subscribe

My niece, a 15-year-old who'll be on her first trip outside the US, is visiting us in London in mid June. My wife and I will have lots of time to spend with her doing tourist things as well as just hanging out, and her grandparents will also be here for part of the time, but she'll be on her own for portions of a few days. Although a bit shy, she's expressed interest in doing something cool and interesting with that time that would allow her to be around other teenagers.

We're looking for anything fun that could occupy her for a few hours over the course of a few days, maybe up to a week. Ideally it would be a multi-day program, but a few single-day activities might also work. Although she's very inquisitive and would love doing something with cultural and educational aspects, we don't want her to feel like she's being sent to summer school.

She has pretty wide-ranging interests. Her personality is bit on the quiet and reserved side. She's a multi-instrumentalist musician and she likes to acquire new languages and learn about different cultures. I think she'd especially love to do some kind of archaeology or history-based activity.
posted by theory to Travel & Transportation around London, England (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Shopping in Carnaby Street or Camden Market would probably be a thing. Lots of young people there. My uncle took me to a Disco when I was a kid and I loved it, but my Uncle was pretty hip and we were closer in age than he and my father were.

I'm very eager to see Bletchley Park, and if she's seen The Imitation Game or Bletchley Circle, it would be a nice follow up activity.

We took a day trip by coach to see Stonehenge and Bath (again, if she's seen Jane Austen movies or read books, it's a MUST do thing.) Frankly, I would have liked all day to do Bath, the baths themselves were fascinating!

The Victoria and Albert has clothing, which is a gateway for most young ladies. Although the National Museum has the Rosetta Stone, but only you know if that's a thing for her.

But really the standard tourist sites are fantastic, Tower of London especially. (Crown jewels, ravens!)

An afternoon at Harrods is also going to be well received, even if you can't even afford a button in that joint. Maybe tea at Harvey Nichols? The London Times had a deal for a £5 bangers and mash at Harvey Nichols and it was a freaking hoot!

Apsley House was fantastic, and it's right next to Hard Rock, which is so awful, but the kids like the T-shirt. Oh crap, it's closed. Another time perhaps.

Maybe a trip to Stratford? A lot of kids start getting into Shakespeare at that age. Every year in US schools they have to read Shakespeare. Freshmen have finished Romeo and Juliet, and in Sophomore year they cover Julius Caesar. So she'll be able to write about the visit and have a context for it.

I know that the Harry Potter tour in Oxford might be of note. She's at the age where she grew up with HP and although she may seem to be too old, it might be really fun for her. Plus, lots of kids.

When we went to the Tate modern we were up to our necks in kids. Everywhere they were!

As you can tell, I'm pretty enthusiastic about London and England.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:20 AM on January 26, 2015

Oh! Theater. You must do a live show!

Autentatious looks like fun! And if you go to Bath, it fits in. If I'm reading the site correctly it's affordable too!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:26 AM on January 26, 2015

Response by poster: All great ideas Ruthless Bunny, thanks! I should have been more explicit that I'm asking about organized group activities my niece she can sign up for. Things like workshops, short courses at cultural institutions, archaeological investigations along the river, etc. But fun and cool!
posted by theory at 6:43 AM on January 26, 2015

Students in the UK get a 6-week summer vacation, so the kinds of week-long activities your niece is asking about will not be available as students are still in school until mid-July. Fire Tech has courses just over weekends, though, and they do photography, game design, and digital music -- so call them to find out what's going on in June. There are also various weekend events around art, coding and crafting in her age group at museums and workshops like Tea & Crafting all over town, but they are unlikely to be scheduled yet at most places.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:45 AM on January 26, 2015

likes to acquire new languages and learn about different cultures

I was wandering around London just a few months ago and I found it really cool just to walk down the south end of Edgware Road, where half of the signs on the street are in Arabic, see all the shisha cafes, poke around a Lebanese bakery.
posted by XMLicious at 7:55 AM on January 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

I would think classes. There are so many cool one-off classes in London -- trapeeze, sewing for teens, printmaking, one-day ballet intensives etc. And lots are just for teens. Just google around. There doesn't have to be anything specifically English about the class, but by being with ordinary English people/teens, she'd get a lot of out of it culturally. I would have loved a teen photography course at that age . . .
posted by caoimhe at 2:47 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Okay, clearly didn't preview and see that this had already been said! But since London is so massive, it might be worth just googling stuff around your area (or see what's on in museums, etc.) -- there is just a class for everyone and everything in the city. Yay!
posted by caoimhe at 2:48 PM on January 26, 2015

Not teen-specific, but a lot of London museums do regular late-night openings with themed events (see here for a list - this might not be up-to-date but it gives you an idea of what's out there).

Also, The Wellcome Collection, near Euston, always has quirky and interactive exhibitions.
posted by ontheradio at 6:10 AM on January 27, 2015

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