The endless parade of stoic churches, museums, and castles can start to drag on a family vacation after a while. With its blood-soaked history and macabre tales of intrigue, however, the Tower of London is one of the most engaging family outings in London. Follow the Thames to the small collection of rag-stone towers. You could show yourself around, but it’s best to check the welcome sign for the next yeoman tour. Clad in a dark blue tunic with red trim and a drooping velvet hat, your guide doesn’t seem imposing at first glance. That impression changes in an instant, when a booming voice cuts through the air, commanding visitors to huddle in and pay attention. With a minimum of 23 years of military service, these yeoman are guards first and guides second. Proceed under the pointed wooden tips of the portcullis, past the fifty foot defensive wall of dingy white stone, to the traitor’s gate, all the while reveling in tales of beheadings, bludgeoning, murders and daring escapes. As 900 years of royal intrigue are revealed over the hour, that grassy lawn you and your family are standing on could very well turn out to be the one-time site of the royal gallows. After the tour winds down, take some time to explore the hidden corners of the palace’s medieval defenses. These hidey-holes are stuffed with more mystery than could be told in an afternoon.