by Fenella Breaks and Monet Olrod
As Londoners face yet another summer stuck in the UK, why not make the most of it?
Here are ELL’s top places to visit this summer in Lewisham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Croydon that you may not have known about before lockdown was introduced last year. For those sceptical of leaving the house and worried about social distancing, there is something for everyone.
The Horniman Museum and Gardens, is set to re-open at the end of this month, located in Forest Hill. The museum is known for displays of natural history and musical instruments, along with its collection of taxidermy aid animals.
The outdoor spaces of the cafe and gardens are already open to the public and are free to roam through to glance at the floral displays and wildlife. A Horniman market also takes place within the gardens; open every Sunday, with a variety of local and independent stalls selling fresh produce from veggies to meats and cheeses. The stands are all located outside and socially distanced to maintain and reduce overcrowding amongst visitors.
For those less interested in nature and for those with chidren to keep occupied, the Horniman grounds also include a mini-golf course. Plonk Crazy Golf includes a nine-hole course through the museum grounds. It is set to re-open at the end of this month, but tickets (at £4) are already selling out.
Lewisham Art House, in Deptford is a not-for-profit artist-led organisation. The building includes 40 artist studios and a public gallery. Art exhibitions are held here regularly as well as workshops. Upcoming exhibitions this summer include ‘Biggus Icarus’ the Graduate Award Show with Rosie McGinn in July. ‘Biggus Icarus’ is Rosie McGinn’s solo exhibition following an extended year-long graduate residency at Lewisham Arthouse.
For those worried holiday activities will interfere with watching the 2021 euros, Skylight Cinema in Shoreditch are showing the football games in their socially distanced indoor screenings. With draught beer, cocktails, burgers and nachos on offer, you might not leave the cinema for hours. Tickets start from £10 and reservations are starting from June this summer.
For those not too keen on football and have no idea what the Euros are, don’t feel bad we’ve all had a tough year, why not settle down to a cocktail at Boxpark in Shoreditch or enjoy a cold beer whilst playing croquet at the rooftop bar, skylight croquet, also in Shoreditch? Tickets start from £25, a fair price for revealing your inner competitive self.
Boxpark includes outdoor socially distanced banquet-like tables under heaters – as there are bound to be cool evenings even in the height of summer – with a self-ordering system designed to reduce contact. The complex also offers a variety of different cuisines in converted shipping containers. Appetising foods range from spicy Pad Thai’ to indulging burgers and chips. With no pre-booking needed, the popular East London venue is worth a visit.
The complex also offers a number of unique clothing containers including familiar and independent clothing brands for you to unleash your inner east London chic style.
Not quite ready to dress like an East Londoner? How about visiting Spitalfields Market for more well-known brands such as make-up company Benefit. The centre also includes a market with a variety of clothes and food stands.
Shoreditch is also home to the famous Brick Lane bagel shop – which Prince William and his wife the Duchess of Cambridge recently visited on their royal tour. Beigel Bake, open 24/7, is popular amongst early risers and late sleepers. Bagels range from a classic salt beef or a salmon and cream cheese- costing only £2.70. Embedded amongst Shoreditch’s clubs and bars the bakery is a perfect place for a late night snack. The bakery also offers delivery for those staying indoors.
Oxygen Freejumping in Purley way just outside the centre of Croydon, offers indoor fun for children with 150 interconnected trampolines for children to explore. The area also has other play zones such as a mega airbag, reaction walls, dodgeball courts as well as a foam pit. Play sessions for smaller children are also offered for those not quite old enough to bounce on the trampolines.
Tickets start at £13 for an hour of free- jumping, a family ticket is also available when booking online.
For those looking for more outdoor activities, Croydon offers many different woodland areas to explore and walk through. Little Heath woods is a nature conservation area with various ponds and paths to walk through, and for those of you originally from countryside areas and are in London for summer, this might be more suited to you. With 25 acres on offer, you can explore the woodland and wildflowers all day with no worry about social distancing, and at no cost.
Coombe woods in south Croydon is famous for its various arrays of flowers in the park, especially during summer. The park is also home to a small cafe, perfect for a quick stop for something sweet.
In Beckenham you can visit the famous Beckenham bandstand, where the late David Bowie hosted a summer festival in 1969; in hope to raise money for his own art project.
Hackney City Farm offers the well-known Frizzante cafe. The cafe is serving outside from the start of April. The cafe offers freshly baked bread and cakes, as well as Italian styled food in the deli counter, with fresh produce from their farm such as eggs and honey.
The farm is also home to many farmyard animals including: sheep, chickens, goats and donkeys, along with small animals like rabbits and guinea pigs.
As Gyms have now reopened, there is no excuse to not exercise. But as you’re on your staycation, how about a more leisurely form of exercise?
London Fields Lido in Hackney is a 50-metre Olympic-sized, heated outdoor swimming pool. Swimming lessons are available for all ages, or if you such want that poolside summer feeling there is a large sun deck and sunbathing area, along with a cafe to feel like a proper summer holiday.
The Museum of the Home, located in Hoxton, is a house in a 300-year-old almshouse charitable housing provided to people in need. The museum displays different eras showing the way we have lived. It includes rooms filled with furniture and objects from various different years, and provides an understanding on how the place of a home has evolved. This June will be the first time the refurbishment of the museum will be open to the public; with new galleries and learning spaces. To look through the various decades of a home entrance is free, however you do need to book tickets and a time slot, as the museum is very popular amongst schools and young families.