• Sheep in field in Cotswolds

    Visit Stonehenge like Obama + six other travel tips in the British Isles

    The <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/united-kingdom/" target="_blank">British Isles</a> are a diverse land mixing centuries of history and culture with spirited metropolitan cities and quaint countryside towns. Whatever your interests may be, there’s much to explore across the pond. But with so many options available, it’s easy to find yourself stuck in an enormous crowd staring at the back of a tourist’s head rather than seeing the changing of the guards. Fortunately for you, there is a way to pick just the right footpath, to get the same private access to Stonehenge as former President Obama and to be at the right place at the right time. Just follow this easy cheat sheet. With it, you can take to the streets in London or meander through charming countryside and villages where time seems to stand still. Cue the wanderlust!<br><br><b>London</b><br><br>Surprise, surprise—<a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank">London</a> makes the list! Of course, visiting the British Isles without exploring this magnificent city steeped in history would be missing a great deal of the British Isles. With a local expert Blue Badge Guide, keep your focus on <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank">Buckingham Palace</a>, Westminster Abbey, and the many impressive war monuments and museums. Your guide will help you weave the past into the fabric of the city while blending with the modern architecture in this metropolitan gem. The city’s tremendous diversity (did you know there are over one million British Indians in London?) lends it an inimitable character where delicious food abounds the streets and creativity exists on every street corner. So how to find the well-connected friend a.k.a. Blue Badge Guide? <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/" target="_blank">Classic Journeys</a> has relationships with the best ones so that you can focus all your attention on enjoying your visit.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000001vxko&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000zV34" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>Stonehenge</b><br> <br>Stonehenge&#39;s ring of prehistoric standing stones is iconic, a quintessential symbol of Britain and its rich history. This <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank">UNESCO World Heritage site</a>, located in the Salisbury Plain, dates as far back as 5,000 years and carries a powerful ceremonial and ritual significance for people across the globe. Each massive stone weighs about 25 tons and reaches heights of 13 feet, making it a masterpiece of engineering. This wonder of the world, and the mystery and rich history that surrounds it, is a must-see as you explore the United Kingdom. The problem you’ll encounter is that about 1.5 million people visit <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank">Stonehenge</a> every year, meaning that you will have a lot more than the standing stones standing around you. The cure is to visit when the site is closed to the public. No, we don’t mean to jump the fence and skirt the ample security. Instead, <a href="http://www.classicjourneys.com/" target="_blank">Classic Journeys</a> has special permission from English Heritage to bring its guests into Stonehenge when no one else is present. Meaning you’ll be just like the president, if only for a day.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000001vxko&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000zV39" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>Blenheim Palace</b><br><br>Britain boasts yet another impressive <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank">UNESCO World Heritage</a> site in one of England’s great country houses: <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank">Blenheim Palace</a>. The impressive palace has been a filming location for many movies but has a storied history of its own. Located just outside of Oxford, the massive property is open to the public but is considered the private property of the 12th Duke of Marlborough. The palace is known for being the ancestral home of Winston Churchill, was used as a hospital for wounded soldiers during the First World War and has housed various dukes and duchesses throughout history. You can arrive by car and simply wander Blenheim on your own, listening for the old halls to share their stories of the palace. Or, join Classic Journeys to walk through the scenic countryside from the nearby village of Bladon—where Winston Churchill was buried—to Blenheim Palace. With this route, you also have the fun of strolling the sweeping lawns and formal gardens.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000001vxko&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000zV3E" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>The Cotswolds</b><br><br>The stunning <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank">Cotswolds</a> region is not only known as the birthplace of Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, and George Elliot, but also wows for its sweeping sheep-filled meadows, grand family homes, and honey-colored villages that represent the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank">England of fantasies</a>. Think cozy, flower-strewn cottages and vast swathes of picturesque rolling green countryside. So many of them, in fact, that your head will spin with color, fragrance and options. So how to make sense of it? Opt for a guided walk through Bath that includes afternoon tea served with shortbread and scones, and revel in the location that inspired some of the world&#39;s best literature. The magic of these places is how little they have changed over the centuries, and so how easy it is to imagine yourself in the literary works you treasure and the land that inspired them.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000001vxko&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000zV3J" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>Cornwall</b><br> <br>The southwest corner of England is known for its inviting turquoise water, sandy beaches, chalky limestone cliffs and fine coastal trails with terrific views punctuated by lighthouses and villages tucked into tiny coves. Visit <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cornwall/" target="_blank">Tintagel Castle</a>, which is frequently cited as the birthplace of King Arthur himself. History and legends of the pirates and smugglers of Land&#39;s End exist around every corner. Cozy seaside villages, friendly and quirky locals and the occasional cream tea with scones, jam, and clotted cream will leave you feeling at home in this captivating part of the British Isles. Follow a Blue Badge Guide on walks along cliffs lined with coastal paths, explore seaside hamlets with picturesque harbors, and cross causeways to an island castle in this exquisite county of England. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cornwall/" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000001vxko&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000zV3O" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>Killarney, Ireland </b><br><br>The Irish town of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ireland/" target="_blank">Killarney</a> is nestled on the beautiful Lough Leane lakeshore in a valley ringed by mountains in southwest Ireland. The scenic valleys, fabled Killarney Lakes and Old Kenmare Road are not to be missed. But what is fact and what is fable? For that, you’ll want to pair up with an expert local as you stroll through the wild, heath-covered hillsides of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ireland/" target="_blank">Killarney National Park</a> and look out for its magnificent herds of native red deer and unique plant life. Enjoy beautiful castles and too many shades of green to count as you learn of Killarney&#39;s famous herds of mountain sheep that have been carefully bred for over 150 years. (Because you’re in the know, you’ll also be welcomed to a sheep farm to watch its prized dogs maneuver the sheep all around the countryside.) <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ireland/" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000001vxko&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000zV3d" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>Ring of Kerry, Ireland</b><br><br>The <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ireland/" target="_blank">Ring of Kerry</a> is a famed scenic loop in southwest Ireland&#39;s County Kerry. Rugged islands, dramatic beaches, and cinematic mountain passes will amaze you as you roam through the Irish countryside. But how to make Ireland more than just one big green postcard in your mind? The secret is in getting to know the local people. So find a guide who can introduce you to the chocolatier who will become your own personal Willy Wonka, the local who shares his secrets for how to cut turf (totally useless, but very fun) and the master distiller who is taking on the global brands one drop at a time. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ireland/" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000001vxko&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000zV3i" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>There you go. Seven travel hacks that will have you exploring the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/united-kingdom/" target="_blank">British Isles</a> like a former president, staying far from the maddening crowds, and getting the trip of a lifetime. For more details on how, take a look at tours offered by <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/united-kingdom/" target="_blank">Classic Journeys</a>.   

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  • Paris Skyline, France

    Top 6 Experiences for a Family Vacation to London & Paris

    <p>Summer is just around the corner, and a family trip to London and Paris might be the perfect vacation for everyone! <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank">London and Paris</a> are much more than two of the world’s most famous and beautiful capitals. With Classic Journeys by your side, you&#39;ll not only see the sights in London, you&#39;ll go even further with a private-access visit to <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank">Stonehenge </a>at sunset and a Harry Potter-style afternoon tea. In <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank">Paris</a>, you&#39;ll skip to the head of the line at the Louvre Museum, cruise the Seine and go for a bike ride in the vast gardens of the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank">Palace of Versailles</a>. You&#39;ll stay in perfectly-located hotels and you&#39;ll be in the amazing company of your expert local guide... so don&#39;t worry if your French is a little rusty! Check out these top six experiences for a family trip to London and Paris.<br><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank">#1 Stonehenge at Sunset</a></b><br>Head out to the vast rolling plains surrounding <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank">Stonehenge </a>late in the day and feel the landscape change as the sun sinks to the horizon.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank"><img alt="Stonehenge at Sunset" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATHv&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f7No" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank">#2 London Eye</a></b><br>The London Eye is the mammoth observation wheel that sits on the banks of the Thames and offers the best views in town. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank"><img alt="London Eye and Thames River in the evening" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATHv&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f7Nt" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank">#3 London Landmarks</a></b><br>There’s so much to see in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank">London</a>, and the best way to see it all is on a guided walk past the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral with its huge dome, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and more.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank"><img alt="View of Big Ben and Parliament" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATHv&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f7Ny" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank">#4 Evening Seine River Cruise</a></b><br>Paris looks its very best at night from the Seine where you get a wonderful look at the landmarks while enjoying dinner.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank"><img alt="River Cruise boat on the Seine at sunset" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATHv&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f7O3" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank">#5 Paris Landmarks</a></b><br>Just like London there is plenty to see and do in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank">Paris </a>and the best way is on a guided tour with a local tour guide. Enjoy seeing landmarks such as the Notre Dame Cathedral, Eiffel Tower, Montparnasse Tower, and more. <br><br><a href="http://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank"><img alt="Eiffel Tower" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATHv&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f9rR" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank">#6 Versailles</a></b><br>In addition to seeing the famed frescoed ceilings and Hall of Mirrors when you visit Versailles enjoy an easy bike tour of the gardens that cover almost 2,000 acres.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank"><img alt="Gardens of Versailles" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATHv&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f7OD" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>If you&#39;d like to do all these activities, plus a little more, without the hassle of logistics—join a <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank">Classic Journeys Family Trip to London &amp; Paris</a>. You&#39;ll have the trip of a lifetime!</p>

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  • London and Paris header

    London & Paris: Two Great Cities, One Epic Family Adventure

    Astride an electric bicycle for the first time, feeling agile as she navigated around the reflecting pools and sculpture gardens at the Palace of Versailles, Heather Gandy had a revelation.<br><br>“I realized that unicorns are real!” she says with a laugh. “I used to think that the ideal family vacation was a total unicorn, some sort of fantasy land where our 7- to 77-year-olds would smile all day. Where I would sip champagne and take high tea and never have to referee or play social director. Where we would explore the world’s great cities and share experiences that we’d reminisce about over Thanksgiving turkeys for years to come. Our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank">family trip to London and Paris</a> with Classic Journeys made me a believer in unicorns!”<br><br>This epic handcrafted adventure to two of the world’s most famous and beautiful cities has everything going for it. For the younger travelers in your clan, London and Paris are awesome – but also easy to grasp, especially when you’re in the company of expert local guides who become your instant friends and revel in making their hometowns exciting, accessible and fun to explore.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank"><img alt="London and Paris family vacation - kids" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002M00e&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000rZcc" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>“I think this one week turned my granddaughter into a lifelong traveler,” one recent guest raved. “It was just a wonderful introduction to overseas travel, and she already wants to know where we’re going next.” For those in your family who’ve already been to Paris and London, get ready to see the cities through new eyes thanks to activities like nothing you’ve done on past visits.<br><br>In London, your local guide leads visits that are something completely different than the typical slog from monument to monument.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank"><img alt="London and Paris family vacation - london" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002M00e&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000rZcm" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>Whether you’re floating sky-high on the London Eye or standing under St. Paul’s huge dome or learning about the ravens and crown jewels at the Tower of London, you get the story of the city, paced and presented in a personal style that speaks to the experiences and attention spans of your whole family.<br><br>To mix up the tempo and keep things engaging, the itinerary includes events like an elaborate afternoon tea, served Harry Potter-style with drinkable potions. (As one dad admitted to us, “I pretended like it was for my kids. But I’ve read the Harry Potter books. I saw the movies. I loved it.”)<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank"><img alt="London and Paris family vacation - stonehenge" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002M00e&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000rZcr" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>At the opposite end of the magical/mystery spectrum, you also get a private visit to Stonehenge when the site is closed to the public. Think about it. If you’ve ever been to see the legendary circle of standing monoliths, you know what a crowd scene it can be. You and your family, though, will have the site to yourselves – all the better to appreciate the power and let your imaginations run wild. Deep history and over-the-top fun in a single experience is the kind of chemistry that’s not easy to achieve on your own.<br><br>That kind of exclusivity and line-skipping ease continues in Paris where your guide whisks you past the crowds for instant access to the Louvre. Too many visitors are already worn out before they get a glimpse of the Mona Lisa or Venus de Milo. But not you.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank"><img alt="London and Paris family vacation - versailles" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002M00e&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000rZcX" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>Likewise, at Versailles, you’ll get a personally guided visit of Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette’s palace. Whereas most visitors only look out from the Hall of Mirrors to see the sculpted gardens stretching to near infinity, you all will spend time out in the gardens, too, on the all-time best bicycle ride. The bikes are included, and there are E-bikes for anyone who prefers less manual pedaling. The cool part is that you get to explore the 2,000-acre estate like most tourists never do…and enjoy each others’ company in the process. Just see if you don’t have the kind of I-believe-in-unicorns moment that Heather did.<br><br>You can also expect your family to develop a real appetite for Paris that goes beyond warm croissants for breakfast and the tasting you’ll have at one of the city’s chocolatiers. Your days will be filled with guided strolls on the Left Bank and a nighttime cruise on the Seine to see the skyline twinkle.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank"><img alt="London and Paris family vacation - paris" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002M00e&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000rZcw" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>And here’s a secret you’ll want to pass on: the best way to experience the Eiffel Tower is from the top of Montparnasse Tower where you get never-ending views of the city without an endless wait to ascend to the Eiffel Tower’s over-crowded observation platforms. And as Heather learned firsthand, “I liked our time on Montparnasse Tower better than when we were on the Eiffel Tower, because on Montparnasse we had amazing views of Eiffel!”<br><br>When you travel with your family, it’s no time to skimp on hotels. Location matters so that you can step right out the door and be in the thick of things without wasting time or energy to get to the sights.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank"><img alt="London and Paris family vacation - city of lights" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002M00e&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000rZd6" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>When it’s time to rest and recuperate from busy days, comfort matters just as much. Both luxury hotels on this trip exceed what you hoped for. In London, the Ampersand Hotel is a 5-star boutique property near Hyde Park, Chelsea and Harrod’s. In the City of Light, you’ll be ensconced at Au Manoir Saint Germain, in the heart of the Left Bank.<br><br>Heather Gandy’s family included 22 people with a 70-year age spread. When she polled them to ask what they liked best, she reports: “Everybody had different favorites. There is NOTHING I would’ve taken out. We all loved it all.” If you’re planning a family getaway – whether there are two of you or 20 – could you hope for better reviews than that?<br><br>Are you ready to plan your own <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/family/" target="_blank">family adventure</a> with Classic Journeys?<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/london-and-paris-family-vacation/" target="_blank"><img alt="London and Paris family vacation - cta" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002M00e&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000rZdB" style="height: 177px; width: 500px;"></img></a>

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