Towering above everything in London–even the staggering London Eye–The Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe. Since opening in July, 2012, it’s become the jewel of the city in a city filled with jewels, so if you’ve never been up to the top, make a plan to visit The View from The Shard, the building’s sky-high observation deck, on your next family outing. It couldn’t be easier to find. Simply make your way to the London Bridge Quarter in Southwark and look up. Once you’re in the lobby, distract the kids with some interactive infographics about the tower on the various video screens while your partner secures tickets for the grand ascent. When you’ve filled in your kids on the necessary landmarks to watch out for, queue up behind the transparent turnstiles to be buzzed in to the state-of-the-art elevator. As you’re whisked up to the 69th floor at roughly six meters a second, the ceiling’s color and pattern shifts like a kaleidoscope, dazzling your kids during the one potentially dull installment of the tour.
When you’ve arrived at the top, the doors open to a brightly-lit panorama that blurs into the horizon forty miles away on a clear day. From behind the thick glass walls you can show your little ones the most important parts of the city (“Look kids, Big Ben, Parliament!”) as they take in the miniature procession of life below. Once you’ve all adjusted to the dizzying heights, head up to the Shard’s 72nd floor open-air observation deck. As the clouds roll overhead–and helicopters trace the path of the Thames beneath you–you’ll feel strangely connected to the city a thousand feet below, as if it suddenly all makes sense. When you’ve once more returned to the real world at ground level, take a look back up at the triangular point far above you and appreciate just how far you’ve all come. Later that evening, have the kids draw a picture of their favorite view, a fitting tribute to an amazing family adventure.