Meet your driver in the arrival hall for your private transfer to a centrally located hotel. The remainder of the day is at your leisure. With the use of your Oyster Card for Tube and Bus transportation and the Tripbuilder Guidebook, you will be able to explore the city on your own to see some of the famous landmarks like the Tower of London, The Eye, British Museum, The Shard, or just perusing through neighborhoods like Soho and bohemian Notting Hill.
After breakfast use your Oyster Card to arrive at the Kew Gardens Station and explore the world's most famous garden. Kew Gardens provides a unique day out with four cafes and restaurants, a serene lake and waterlily ponds. Delve into a rain forest, stroll a soaring walkway amidst tree canopies and see the first galleries in the world dedicated solely to botanical art. Extensive gardens under glass reach up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit guaranteeing year-round warmth. Travel through ten climatic zones in the Princess of Wales Conservatory and be amazed by giant lily pads in the Waterlily House. Step inside Kew Palace and explore a beautiful royal retreat comprising princesses' bedrooms, an intimate dining room and the newly restored Georgian Royal Kitchens. Your ticket includes entry to all buildings and attractions within the Gardens including the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art and the iconic glasshouses. After your tour, you can return to your hotel or explore more of London independently.
After breakfast and checking out of your hotel pick up your rental car for a short drive to Woking in nearby Surrey. Here, you will have a private garden tour of the RHS Garden Wisley. Full of inspiration, with over 30,000 plant varieties, 200 acres and countless different styles, the gardens at the RHS Garden Wisley are a delight throughout the year. Allow at least 90 minutes to explore the garden highlights, including the Rock Garden, with a history dating over 100 years, the Glasshouse opened in 2007 by HRH Queen Elizabeth II, The Rose Garden, Cottage Gardens and stunning Mixed Borders to name a few. You will also receive a lunch voucher that can be redeemed at any of the restaurants and cafes (Up to 20 GBP). After lunch, take the pleasant 2-hour ride to the Cotswolds. Home to some of the most unspoiled historic and famous towns and villages in England, the Cotswolds are also blessed with an abundance of celebrated gardens. After checking into your hotel in one of the nearby towns, you can relax or explore on your own.
After breakfast, you will take the short drive to Blenheim Palace; a World Heritage Site and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. The Formal Gardens surround the palace, and they include the majestic Water Terraces, the Duke's Private Italian Garden, the tranquil Secret Garden with all of its hidden treasures, the new Churchill Memorial Garden and the beautifully delicate Rose Garden. Look for statues and art as you explore the gardens, including temporary visiting pieces and permanent fixtures including 'Untitled' by German artist Georg Baselitz. You can take the Miniature Train from the Palace and discover the colorful Butterfly House; home to a range of butterfly species from countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines, as well as several zebra finches. After viewing the grounds, you can return to your hotel, or opt to visit historic Oxford, only a 25-minute journey from the palace.
After breakfast enjoy a leisurely ride through the countryside to the serene Lake District. After checking into your hotel, in the afternoon you will have the pleasure of a relaxing Ullswater Lake Cruise. Ullswater Steamers is an award winning environmentally accredited Lake District attraction celebrating over 150 years of operating cruises on England's most beautiful lake. The cruise runs a serpentine course for eight miles through expansive vistas of Lakeland's highest mountains offering visitors an experience they will never forget The cruise will be approximately 2 and 1/2 hours and will include a bottle of prosecco per two passengers.
Today you will take a self-guided tour of the historic Lowther Castle. Built at the turn of the 19th century, the castle was a grand affair boasting a room for every day of the year. Its gardens were the envy of northern England; however, in 1957 the castle was demolished. Just the facade and outer walls remained standing and for over half a century, the place was empty and the gardens were lost to wilderness. Seventy years on from its demolition, Lowther Castle has regained its stature as one of the most intriguing visitor attractions in the country. Today you will find expansive lush lawns and wide paths, plus original garden buildings and features. In addition to beautiful mountain views from the west escarpment, the area is teeming with wildlife including red squirrels and crested newts.
After breakfast take a relaxing 2-hour drive to the beautifully preserved medieval city of York. After checking into your hotel, the day is at your leisure. The town is pedestrian friendly with its 13th-century walls enclosing a medieval spider's web of narrow streets. Make sure to visit "The Shambles"; a street of traditional timber-framed buildings dating back to the 14th century. At its heart lies the immense, awe-inspiring York Minster, one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals in the world. Take a chocolate tour at "York's Sweet Story", home to the original KitKat bar, or go trainspotting at the National Rail Museum. In the evening, a myriad of restaurants, cafes and traditional pubs await you.
After breakfast take the short drive to the RHS Garden Harlow Carr located on the western edge of Harrogate. This must-visit garden will inspire and delight all interests with its innovative design and creative planting. Wander through the tranquil surroundings of this stunning 58-acre garden and gain ideas for your own borders. Pick up the latest tips and growing techniques in the beautiful Kitchen Garden, where raised beds, fruit trees and a forager's garden have been laid out with thoughtful design.
Saunter along the lush Streamside Garden, unearth hidden treasures in the Woodland and take glorious deep breaths in the magical Scented Garden, with its focus on roses (something very sentimental to Portlandians). Other highlights include the Alpine House, the Main Borders, and the Woodland Glade. You will also receive a lunch voucher to be redeemed at Betty's Cafe and Tea Room (up to 20 GBP).
After a leisurely breakfast, drive back to London (approx. 4 hours) and return your rental car. After checking into your hotel, the remainder of the day is free to explore more attractions like the Sherlock Holmes Museum, St Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, or perhaps high tea at Fortnum & Mason.
Today you will explore the beauty and luxury of Kensington Palace; a royal residence that has been used by British sovereigns since the 17th-Century. The palace is easily accessible by either High Street Kensington or Queensway tube stations (10-15 minutes walking time). Here, you will exchange your Avanti voucher for entrance at the palace ticket office. Kensington Palace has a rich history: originally purchased by William III and Mary II, it served as the birthplace and childhood home of Queen Victoria, and is the site of Queen Anne's famous greenhouse and summer supper spot, the Orangery. To start off your exploration, you may choose to ascend the grand King's staircase, surrounded by William Kent's vivid, life-sized portrayals of George I's court. From there you can enter the Cupola Room in the King's Apartments, the most splendidly decorated room in the palace. At the center of the palace, view the Luminous Lace installation, containing nearly 12,000 Swarovski crystals. Outside the palace, experience the intimate tranquility of the Sunken Gardens. The best-known resident in recent years was Diana, Princess of Wales, who occupied apartments in the palace from 1981-1997. Included in the viewing is a selection of Princess Diana's dresses in the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection. After your tour, you can return to your hotel or explore more of the city on your own. To end your evening and your memorable stay in England, perhaps pop into one of London's many historical pubs or take in a play or musical at one of their famous theaters.
After breakfast, meet your driver for your private transfer to Heathrow Airport to continue on to your next Avanti destination!