It’s been quite hard to get this list nailed to 11, as of course there are sooo many possibilities!
Please check out the websites listed for what each venue/location may currently be offering during lockdown and post lockdown periods! Post updated October 2020.
Victoria Park or Vicky Park as it is known to locals had a significant refurbishment in 2011-12 and offers a super large and lovely green space for open air music events, runners, family makers and dog walkers alike. The lake and pagoda areas are stunning, I’m told the cafes are really lovely, and the beauty of the park certainly makes it easier when trying to jog around it after work!
2.Fontaines Cocktail Bar- Stoke Newington
This features on my 10 best London cocktail bar list: Fontaines is SUCH a beautiful, luxurious venue. I’d often go straight after work, wishing although it was a Thursday that I was dressed up like a 1940’s starlet. Lovely drinks and occasionally a very cute little dog running about the place too. Check their website for other activities held downstairs here: including vintage movie nights and swing dancing.
3. Vida Bakery- Brick Lane
This super colourful and cute café has the best biggest slices of gluten free cakes: many of which are also dairy free (but contain soya in the main, apart from just one cupcake sadly. Now soya is an issue for me so I wont be able to return back in a hurry: sob!) I’ve met many a friend here for a cup of tea and large piece of cake for £5.00 after work, and it feels a little bit of tranquillity from the otherwise bustly Brick Lane. They also have an online shop during these lockdown days, and also continue to make awesome looking celebration cakes (I believe for these you can specify the type of milk you’d prefer them to use if required).
4. Alternative Jack the Ripper Tour- Aldgate
A few years ago I took one of the standard Jack the Ripper walks in the area. To be honest, more than anything of interest to me was the guides knowledge of the local streets which were one of the oldest and poorest parts of London.
When I found out the charity “Beyond the Streets”, who work tackling the issues of sex working in this area, offer these alternative tours to focus more on the lives of the victims than the predator himself, I jumped at the chance. Tickets for adults are around £10.00, and were occurring monthly pre lockdown. It may be worth contacting them to ask if the future dates still available on Eventbrite are planning to run:
5. Fox in a Box London: Dalston
Thanks to lovepopupslondon, I’ve tried a few London escape room games now and so far, Fox in a Box has topped them all! The rooms themselves are really well made, there is an evident linear approach to progressing to the next level (but it’s still really hard!) and having completed Zodiac Killer and Prison Break here, I know how thrilling and full of suspense their games are! Escape room games are not necessarily always the cheapest: but its money well spent here, and the staff are lovely!! #supportlocal.
6. Trinity Buoy Lighthouse
Look at the glorious blues of the first picture! Another huge thanks to Lovepopupslondon for arranging this opportunity, one of the nicest things I did in London in 2019 was attend a jazz event at the lighthouse (not in the light house itself- but check out the sound bowls above as they are part of a 1,000 year Longplayer project being held here- you can listen via Live Stream on the site!), the website shows the fabulous amount of music (particularly jazz) events that take place here, and the surrounding area, overlooking the 02 and the Thames, is tranquil and lovely.
Broadway Market offers much in all the standard options of jewellery, food, clothing, and many other goodies from independent businesses. Perhaps my favourite thing about the market is the amount of both gluten and dairy free offerings, as well as the fact yes it gets busy, but appears far less overwhelming than other London markets, as its just one straight row of stalls, so no possibility to get lost or think “Have I covered this bit?!”
The website also gives you a historical overview and insight into the area too- and refers to itself as a working Victorian street market.
8. Brick Lane Market
The mother of all East London markets! I love Brick Lane for how it feels on any day of the week, but especially the hubbub on any given Sunday when the “market” runs over separate different areas, nooks and crannies that will take you a couple of visits to be fully familiar with! My favourite aspect is the easy access to the glorious array of street foods available, as well as the streets such as Princelet Street which will take you over to Spitalfields Market and Liverpool Street, which to me is like the street where time stood still. Beautiful.
9.Colombia Road Flower Market
Just up the road from Brick Lane is the infamous Colombia Road: I recommend you get here for about 10am, as the crowds here by 12noon will literally impede your ability to walk, and think you’re in a rugby scrum, which gets a bit annoying! But says a lot: they attract big crowds, for their gorgeous and often very reasonably priced flowers, as well as all the lovely little tea and other shops which adorn the street.
Normally open on Sundays only, keep your eyes on the website for when they return!
10.Roof East- Stratford
Feel good memories from Roof East Stratford last September 2019. This rooftop setting offer numerous eating spots, multiple bars, the deck chairs to lounge on as you see above, a crazy golf station and a cinema! I absolutely loved the vibe here- it was a Sunday but it wasn’t packed, we got a drink easily and sat to soak up the London sun. Bliss!
To add an entire suburb to this list sounds like it must be a big deal, and it is! Walthamstow is more than the pop band East 17 and a gritty looking high street. These are the reasons that you should take a half day to get yourself there:
–Gods Own Junkyard. A gorgeous shop/relic looking museum of all things neon! It won’t take you long to look around the signs, but there is a cafe there also and next to it several bars with plenty of outdoor seating area, in the area of Ravenswood Industrial Estate. It would captivate anyone young or old, and gives you all the cheerful feels for any time of year! (or pandemic).
–Walthamstow Village. My oh my, this is a must see…We’ve been in London 15 and 20 years respectively and were blown away. To get to “Gods Own Junkyard”, Citymapper took us through here, the quaint “Church Path” to the church itself and the “Ancient House”, past the 16th century almshouses and the cute cottage row. You will feel like you’ve stepped back in time!
Then there is Orford Road itself, also in the Village, which is full of little restaurants and bars, has a townhall, a pretty “square” where locals can sit and ponder… It’s also pedestrianised which is super helpful! And oldy worldy charm? Got that in spades!
The biggest decision will be where to go back to when lockdown restrictions have finally eased properly! Which of these do you love, and any others to recommend?
For more London ideas and recommendations, come and find me over @lovinglivinglondon on Instagram!