In & Around Windsor
Windsor is largely Victorian, with lots of brick buildings and a few remnants of Georgian architecture. In and around the castle are two cobblestone streets, Church and Market, which have antiques shops, silversmiths, and pubs. After lunch or tea, you can stroll along the 5km (3-mile) aptly named Long Walk.
Savill Garden, Wick Lane, Englefield Green, Egham, and Surrey are all in Windsor Great Park (tel. 01753/860222; www.thecrownestate.co.uk), which is signposted from Windsor, Egham, and Ascot. Started in 1932, the 14-hectare (35-acre) garden is one of the finest. The display starts in spring with rhododendrons, camellias, and daffodils beneath the trees; then, throughout the summer, spectacular displays of flowers and shrubs are presented in a natural and wild state. It's open daily year-round (except at Christmas) from 10am to 6pm (to 4pm in winter). There is no admission charge, except for the Savill Garden. From March to October admission prices are £7.50 adults, £7 seniors, and £3.50 ages 6 to 16; November to February it's £5.50 adults, £5 seniors, and £2 for children. Family tickets range from £13 to £19, and kids 5 and under go in free. The location is 8km (5 miles) from Windsor along the A30; turn off at Wick Road and follow the signs to the gardens. The nearest rail station is at Egham; you'll need to take a taxi a distance of 5km (3 miles). A self-service restaurant and gift shop is on-site.
Adjoining Savill Garden are the Valley Gardens, full of shrubs and trees in a series of wooded natural valleys running to the water. It's open daily year-round; entrance to the gardens is free, though parking is £3 to £6 per vehicle.
On the B3022 Bracknell/Ascot Road, outside Windsor, LEGOLAND (tel. 0870/504-0404; www.lego.com/legoland/default.asp), a 61-hectare (150-acre) theme park, opened in 1996. Although a bit corny, it's fun for the entire family. Attractions, spread across five main activity centers, include Duplo Gardens, offering a boat ride, puppet theater, and waterworks, plus a Miniland, showing European cities or villages re-created in minute detail from millions of Lego bricks. Enchanted Forest has treasure trails, a castle, and animals created from Lego bricks. Dragon Knight's Castle takes you back to the days of knights and dragons and includes a blazing dragon roller coaster. The park is open daily from 10am to 5pm from mid-March to October (until 7pm during school holidays). Admission varies through the season, starting at £35 for adults, £26 for seniors and children 3 to 15 (free for children 2 and younger).
Only 5km (3 miles) south of Windsor is Runnymede, the 75-hectare (188-acre) meadow on the south side of the Thames, in Surrey, where it's believed that King John put his seal on the Great Charter after intense pressure from his feudal barons and lords. Runnymede is also the site of the John F. Kennedy Memorial, an acre of ground given to the United States by the people of Britain. The memorial, a large block of white stone, is clearly signposted and reached after a short walk. The pagoda that shelters it was placed here by the American Bar Association to acknowledge the fact that American law stems from the English system. The historic site, to which there is free access all year, lies beside the Thames, 1km (a half mile) west of the hamlet of Old Windsor on the south side of the A308. If you're driving on the M25, exit at Junction 13. The nearest rail connection is at Egham, 1km (a half mile) away. Trains depart from London's Waterloo Station and take about 25 minutes.
Eton is home of what is arguably the most famous public school (Americans would call it a private school) in the world. From Windsor Castle's ramparts, you can look down on the river and onto the famous playing fields of Eton.
To get here, take a train from Paddington Station, go by car, or take the Green Line bus to Windsor. If you go by train, you can walk from the station to the campus. By car, take the M4 to exit 5 to go straight to Eton.
Insider's tip: Parking is likely to be a problem, so we advise turning off the M4 at exit 6 to Windsor; you can park here and take an easy stroll past Windsor Castle and across the Thames Bridge. Follow Eton High Street to the college.
Eton College (tel. 01753/671000; www.etoncollege.com) was founded by 18-year-old Henry VI in 1440. Some of England's greatest men, notably the duke of Wellington, have played on these fields. Twenty prime ministers were educated here, as well as such literary figures as George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Ian Fleming, and Percy Bysshe Shelley, who, during his years at Eton (1804-10), was called "Mad Shelley" or "Shelley the Atheist" by his fellow pupils. Prince William, second in line to the throne, was a student here. If it's open, take a look at the Perpendicular chapel, with its 15th-century paintings and reconstructed fan vaulting.
The history of Eton College, since its inception in 1440, is depicted in the Museum of Eton Life, Eton College (tel. 01753/671000), located in vaulted wine cellars under College Hall (originally used as a storehouse by the college's masters). The displays, ranging from formal to extremely informal, include a turn-of-the-20th-century boy's room, schoolbooks, and canes used by senior boys to apply punishment.
Admission to the school and museum is £4.20 for adults and £3.45 for seniors and children 14 and younger. You can also take guided tours for £5.50 adults or £4.50 seniors and children. Eton College is open to the public from March 22 to April 16 and June 20 to September 3 daily 10:30am to 4:30pm, and April 17 to June 27 and September 4 to October 5 daily from 2 to 4:30pm. Note: These dates vary every year and Eton may close for special occasions. It's best to call.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.