Things to Do in London - page 6
One of London’s most celebrated royal parks, Regent’s Park was first laid out by John Nash in 1811, as a hunting ground for Henry VIII and remained a private royal retreat until 1845. Today the 410-acre public park offers welcome respite for the residents of North West London as well as housing the hugely popular London Zoo, where visitors can get up close and personal to an incredible 760 animal species.
The park’s highlights include a boating lake; the recently opened Hanover Gate treehouse playground; the Queen Mary’s Gardens, an exquisite rose garden containing over 400 varieties; and the formal Victorian William Andrews Nestfield’s Avenue Gardens. Perhaps the most famous spot is the idyllic peak of Primrose Hill, as renowned for its many celebrity residents as it is for its expansive views over London, making it one of the city’s liveliest picnic spots.
Wembley Stadium is one of the most important stadiums in the UK, hosting major football matches and musical acts – it is where the FA Cup Final and home matches of the England National Football team are played. At 90,000 seats it is the second largest stadium in Europe and the largest stadium in the United Kingdom, and consequently one of the most expensive stadiums ever built at a cost of £798 million.
The stadium’s most prominent features are the partially retractable roof and the 134-metre-high (440 feet) Wembley Arch, the longest single span roof structure in the world. The stadium has a one-kilometer long circumference. Amongst its most famous events, Wembley Stadium hosted the Live Earth concert in 2007 and the commemorative Concert for Diana, as well as the 2012 Summer Olympics; it later on welcomed acts like Muse, George Michael, Bon Jovi, Metallica, Madonna, Oasis and AC/DC.
Today, the Old Truman Brewery is a revolutionary arts and media quarter in East London, but centuries ago it was one of the largest breweries in the world. Founded in 1666 as the Black Eagle Brewery, it grew to be the world’s largest in 1873 before closing altogether a century later. Now, the ten acres of buildings that once formed the brewery are home to more than 200 businesses, including a variety of creative businesses and independent shops, galleries, markets and bars. Shoppers can visit Europe’s largest record store, Rough Trade, and clothing stores such as Absolute Vintage, Number Six, YMC and Traffic People. For eats, stop at the Boiler House Food Hall, featuring 30 stalls of international cuisine.
Definitely worth a visit is the Backyard Market, which was the first market in the area to open on Saturdays. There, you’ll find a mix of kitsch goods, arts and crafts and works by young designers and artists.
One of London’s most fascinating yet often-overlooked museums, Sir John Soane’s Museum is dedicated to its namesake, the much-celebrated neo-classical architect who designed a number of acclaimed Regency-era buildings including, most famously, the Bank of England. The museum, housed across three purpose-built houses in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Central London, was the personal project and one-time home of Soane, designed to inspire and showcase his works to budding architects and students. Opening to the public after his death in 1837, the museum, although recently restored, remains true to Soane’s original design and displays over 20,000 architectural drawings and models.
The building itself is also part of Soane’s work, with highlights including a unique geometric staircase and an exquisite mirrored dome ceiling in the Breakfast Room.
As England’s third-largest football stadium after Wembley and Old Trafford, and home to Arsenal Football Club, one of the capital’s most renowned football teams, Emirates Stadium is a top choice for those looking to soak up the atmosphere of a British football match. Opening its doors in 2006, the state-of-the-art stadium was designed by HOK Sport and cost an impressive £390 million to build, with seats for up to 60,365 fans.
Touring the landmark stadium is also a popular choice for fans, offering the chance to explore the changing rooms, complete with luxury hydrotherapy spas, walk through the players’ tunnel onto the pitch and stand in Arsenal Manager Arsène Wenger's spot in the dug-out. The on-site Arsenal Museum is another must-see, crammed with iconic photos and memorabilia from Arsenal’s long history, and fans can also shop for sports gear or print a bespoke Arsenal shirt at The Armoury, the official Arsenal shop.
Located in the heart of London, the Household Division’s headquarters looks back on hundreds of years of tradition and rich history. But the integrated Household Cavalry Museum isn’t just any old dusty exhibition; it’s an actual workplace that provides insight about real people doing their real jobs – jobs that involve longstanding ceremonies that haven’t been changed in over 350 years. The Household Cavalry is responsible for guarding the queen on various occasions in the United Kingdom and also for serving as part of the British Army around the world in vehicles. As a military museum, this site offers an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the ceremonial duties and working role of the British Army’s senior regiment, the Household Cavalry.
More Things to Do in London
Discover the history of London’s famous gin at the city’s first gin distillery visitor center. The iconic Beefeater Gin Distillery opened its doors to visitors in 2014, with the aim to tell the story of London’s legendary gin production. Visitors are whisked on a journey back to London’s 18th-century gin heyday, walking down a recreation of William Hogarth's famous Gin Lane, through a Victorian-era Covent Garden where the herbs, fruits and flowers to flavor the gin were sourced, and peeking into 'Burrough's American Bar', where the secrets of gin cocktails are unveiled.
The experience is split into two areas, starting with the interactive exhibition space, accompanied by personal iPad guides, and followed by a guided tour of the distillery, where you’ll see the original copper stills, learn more about the art of gin making and enjoy a complimentary gin and tonic at the distillery bar.
Reopened in 2015 after a £1.7 million renovation project, Eltham Palace is looking the best it ever has and the grand Tudor residence makes a worthy detour from nearby Greenwich. As the childhood home of Henry VIII, the medieval palace boasts a fascinating royal history, but it’s best known for its elaborate art deco style interiors, transformed in the 1930s by wealthy businessman Stephen Courtauld. Visitors to Eltham Palace are whisked back to the 1930s as they explore the domed entrance hall, where the Courtaulds held their glamorous cocktail parties; peek into the opulent gold bathroom and stroll the exquisite orchid and rose gardens. Also open to guests are a series of new rooms, including a map room, a walk-in wardrobe filled with beautiful period clothing, a basement billiard room and a WWII bunker. Traces of the palace’s medieval roots can also be seen, most notably in the glorious wood-beamed Great Hall and the historic moat, crossed by London's oldest working bridge.
Marylebone Village is an affluent area within central London and has been a fashionable neighborhood since the 17th century. Many famous people have lived in this area, and today it is a popular shopping district. Several hotels are located here so visitors interested in shopping in this area can stay nearby. Dozens of trendy retail shops can be found in Marylebone Village including both big brands and independent stores. Come here to shop for clothing, shoes, accessories, and more. Home stores located here are a great place to find items to decorate and furnish your home.
Many beauty and cosmetics shops are also located here, as well as spas and wellness centers for a little extra pampering and relaxation. For entertainment, there are movie theaters, a few museums, art and music galleries, and book stores. Two cooking schools are also located here. When you get hungry, you can find plenty of options for restaurants, cafes, and pubs.
The Royal Air Force Museum London gets travelers in touch with history and puts them up close with more than 100 on-site aircrafts that are ready to be explored. Visitors will learn about World War I on an interactive tour of the brand new First World War in the Air exhibit, and travelers can see a life-sized model of an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet—the only one of its kind displayed in the world!
Young aviation enthusiasts can get a taste of air traffic control operations in an interactive display that lets them run the show. The Princess Mary’s RAF Nursing Service gives visitors a different view of war, with a behind the scenes look at those who have cared for the sick and wounded since the early 1900s. Travelers in search of education and entertainment agree, the Royal Air Force Museum London is worth a visit.
Brixton Market is best known for its wide array of eateries with menus full of foods and snacks from all corners of the world. Why not try the Colombian spot Santafereno or the Cornercopia with its constantly changing menu items made with local ingredients? There is also Franco Manco’s with its sourdough pizza and the Pakistani street food found at the Elephant. Surrounding the trendy restaurants and cafés is an extensive (and at times, confusing) network of stalls and shops offering everything from knit hats to cheese to exotic snails.
The Brixton Market is always changing and holds regular specialty markets on Station Road to mix things up. At the Bakers’ and Flea Market on the first Saturday of each month, freshly baked cakes and breads will provide the energy to rummage through the secondhand antiques, books and collectibles also found here.
Lord’s Cricket Ground is often described as the sport’s spiritual headquarters, hosting national competitions and international test matches. Although legendary, the stadium doesn’t have any royal relations as its name may suggest — it’s named after Thomas Lord, a professional cricketer and the venue’s founder.
Of course the best way to experience this site is by attending on of the regular matches as one of the 28,000 spectators the stadium can hold. But even without a live game underway, the Lord’s Cricket Ground is worth a visit. The eight stands and media center circling the pitch all have distinctive features, the most notable being the Victorian Pavilion with its famous Long Room. It’s so long, in fact, that cricket player David Steele supposedly once got lost on his walk from the dressing room to the cricket field and ended up in the basement toilets.
Evocatively nicknamed London’s Secret Garden, the Chelsea Physic Garden is a green oasis in the heart of Chelsea, hidden away by the Thames riverbank. Founded in 1673, it’s London’s oldest botanic garden, set up by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries and renowned for its impressive collection of medicinal plants and rare species.
The 4-acre walled-garden is home to some 5,000 different edible, medicinal and historic plants, with highlights including Britain’s largest outdoor olive tree, the world’s northernmost outdoor grapefruit tree, a series of endangered plants from Madeira and the Canary Islands, and a World Woodland Garden, devoted to forest plants from around the world. There’s also the Tangerine Dream café, which serves lunch and afternoon tea; a gift shop and an annual schedule of workshops, tours and activities.
Few addresses hold the majesty of ‘Number One London’, the official address for the central London abode of Apsley House, located at Hyde Park Corner. Once home to the Duke of Wellington, the Georgian manor was built between 1771-1778 and remains remarkably preserved with much of its interior design and furnishings dating back to the start of the Duke’s residency in 1817. The stunning house, a popular attraction in itself, became an English Heritage site in 1947 and is now home to the Wellington Museum where the Duke’s personal collection of art and artifacts – many gifted to him in thanks for his military successes – are on display.
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