Top 10 Things to Do in London
by Virtual Tourist
Eclectic, exciting, and always inspirational, London offers a literal endless list of things to do even if no one is getting married. With this in mind the members and editors of VirtualTourist.com have compiled this list of great places to see before the lines get long again!
1. FASHION AND TEXTILE MUSEUM
Established by British fashion legend Zandra Rhodes, this small but exciting museum focuses on designers and design trends that celebrate the English and their ever-evolving style. While most visitors come to the museum for the innovative exhibits, many also come for the classes, which range from shoe design to How to Start a Fashion Business.
2. OLD OPERATING THEATER & HERB GARRET
Slightly macabre, but undeniably fascinating, this museum gives a glimpse into the harrowing, horrifying experience of surgery in the 1800s. Pre-dating the widespread use of anesthesia, the theater was the training ground for future surgeons and apothecaries as well as the site of many a gruesome amputation.
3. THE CEREMONY OF THE KEYS; TOWER OF LONDON
Tickets have to be secured months in advance, there is no restroom access, no photography, and latecomers are turned away, but anyone who has ever attended this 700-year-old ceremony will verify that the experience is well worth it. The locking up of the Tower and its treasures, this nightly tradition only lasts a few minutes but packs in hundreds of years of drama.
4. THE HOUSEHOLD CAVALRY MUSEUM
Anyone who's ever seen Queen Elizabeth II at a public event has probably seen the Household Cavalry Regiment in action. Charged with protecting her, the Cavalry is celebrated here with stunning displays of uniforms, medals, and weaponry. The museum also pays tribute to the unit's four-legged members; the horses that go through almost as much training as their human counterparts.
5. JERMYN STREET AND SURROUNDING AREA
Men who've dreamed of being true English dandies should run, not walk, to Jermyn Street. Home to many of the city's most revered bespoke tailors, this mostly male-centered fashion mecca is as inspirational as it is expensive. Legendary names like Turnbull & Asser, Hilditch & Key, and Thomas Pink all grace these legendary streets.
6. HARRODS FOOD HALLS
A veritable nirvana for foodies, Harrods Food Halls could easily take a full day (or even two) to explore well. In addition to selling its own brand of goodies, the halls also sell every kind of cheese, fish, poultry, meat, candy, fruit, and vegetable known to man. In addition to the drool-inducing sight of the food, the halls offer stunning, authentic early 20th-century surroundings that look more museum than food emporium.
7. MUSEUM OF BRANDS, PACKAGING AND ADVERTISING
Nestled just off a side street in the legendary Notting Hill neighborhood, sits the marvelously curated Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising. With more than 12,000 pieces in its collection, the museum's inventory comes from historian Robert Opie, a collector of packaging since the age of 16. Tracing the evolution of the UK's favorite brands, the facility provides a fascinating look at how the tastes of a country can change and yet remain entirely the same.
8. MARIANNE NORTH GALLERY; KEW ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS
While most visitors head to Kew for its lush gardens, unique glasshouses, and iconic plants, few seem to be aware that the gardens also house the only solo exhibit completely devoted to the work of a British woman. Opened in 1882, the Marianne North Gallery features 833 stunning paintings depicting North's plant studies from across the world. An intrepid traveler, North spent a year arranging the paintings in the gallery, including a hidden painting that was discovered 120 years later when the gallery went through a restoration project.
9. NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
With more than 70 million specimens, this historic museum houses the most expansive natural history collection in the world. From intricate ceiling panels to innovative terracotta ornamentation, this museum is not only aesthetically pleasing in and of itself, but includes attractions for audiences of all ages. Kids will love the hands-on dinosaur exhibit, while adults can explore the wild side at the Sexual Nature exhibit, which runs through October of 2011.
10. ST. MARTIN-IN-THE-FIELDS
When in Trafalgar Square, stop by St. Martin in the Fields for a unique spiritual experience. This historic landmark not only allows you to explore the church where Hanoverian kings once worshipped, but you also dine get to dine in an 18th-century crypt. The cavernous chamber offers a rare opportunity to have fish and chips with lunch companions from the 1700s.
London: Historic and Dynamic Travel Guide
In many-faceted London, we'll ponder royal tombs in Westminster Abbey, discover treasures in the British Library, enjoy the vibrant evening scene in Soho, uncover Churchill's secret WWII headquarters, join the 9-to-5 crowd in the new London, shop where the queen shops, and straddle the Prime Meridian in Greenwich.
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