citywallsWhen our daughter Sondra announced plans to spend her junior year in college studying at Oxford it meant we would turn our travel plans to visiting her in Jolly Ol’ England. On one visit, she suggested we take a short bus trip and visit Windsor. Yes, the Windsor associated with the House of Windsor and the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world, Windsor Castle.

The day we visited took on an extra excitement since the flag atop a turret showed us the queen was in residence. We gawked and waved at the windows by her private living quarters, but she never got around to inviting us inside for tea.

What fascinated me about the castle is that it is a “working” castle with hundreds of people actually living and working at the castle on a daily basis. Wouldn’t it be great to leave home each day and instead of going to a sterile office, go to a 1,000-year-old castle with cobblestone pathways and secret alleyways?

Like all good tourists, we snapped a picture of ourselves next to the Queen’s guards. The castle gives an authentic look at castle life through the ages. The State apartments, St George’s Chapel and Queen Mary’s Doll House all make history come alive to Americans who ohh and ahh over a house built in 1750 in colonial Williamsburg.

LEGOLAND Windsor

palace_guardFor a contrast with the ancient side of Windsor, we visited LEGOLAND Windsor. OK, Sondra was too old to ride on some of the roller coasters and she wasn’t excited about attending the Pirate Training Camp, buy we still had a great, albeit, wet time. We joined other hardy families with ponchos and umbrellas in the rain and toured the creative attractions.

Since my skill at using LEGOs consists of making a box, Miniland kept me asking, “How can they make that out of LEGOs?” More than 40 million LEGO pieces were used to create miniature replicas of buildings and attractions from Europe and the USA. We saw a bit of home in LEGO-sized scenes of the White House, New York City and other American landmarks.

Interactive fun at LEGOLAND

What I love about LEGOLAND at Windsor and in the United States, are the interactive activities for families. In one attraction, four families competed against each other by “driving” four separate fire trucks to a “burning” building. Parents and kids furiously pumped water to put out the fire and then used a hand lever to get their truck back to the finish line. Every family exited smiling and excitedly recounting how they worked together to put out the fire.

I’m not a big fan of commercialized theme parks but the LEGOLAND Parks have a different atmosphere than simply amusement rides and souvenir shops. The Windsor Park gives a “Fast Pass” to families traveling with a child with disabilities.

If traveling to England isn’t on your schedule, head to a LEGOLAND in California or Florida. Just as much fun and just as many tiny LEGO parts. Best of all, the LEGOs are glued down, sparing every parent the agony of stepping on LEGOs with bare feet.