5 years, 8 months ago
Famed for its tennis legacy, there is much, much more to Wimbledon than watch tennis while overdosing on strawberries and cream. Read on to find out what you can do in the great South London ‘burb of SW19.
Visit Wimbledon Common and Wimbledon Windmill
credit: Phil Whitehouse
Yes, Wimbledon is home to a windmill! While Wimbledon Common is more famous for the Wombles who reportedly roam there, Wimbledon Windmill is a brilliantly unexpected sight when you’re enjoying a long walk across the Common’s 460 hectares. There’s a museum about the windmill that’s worth popping into but if you want to keep walking – or running – and extend your dose of fresh air, few know that it’s actually possible to get to Richmond Park from Wimbledon Common by just crossing the A3 road. From there you’re in London’s biggest park and home to over 600 deer.
Visit London’s Oldest Buddhist Temple
Wat Buddhapadipa was the UK’s first Buddhist Temple and it is a much treasured place by London’s Buddhist community. A working Thai temple – it’s home to a community of nuns and monks – Buddhapadipa Temple opened in 1982 and is set in four acres of ground which include a pond and gardens. This is a very peaceful spot in an otherwise busy corner of London but if you want to visit as a group make sure to ask the Temple staff in advance so that they’re sure they can accommodate you.
Go boating in Wimbledon Park
Another vast green space, Wimbledon Park has volleyball courts, children’s play areas and also a lake that you can go sailing on should the weather be kind enough. Choose from kayaks, canoes and even windsurfing at Wimbledon Park Watersports Centre, and yes, if I must mention them, there are tennis courts in Wimbledon Park too.
Shop in Wimbledon Village
While the lure of Centre Court Shopping Centre will greet you as soon as you emerge from Wimbledon Station, the best and much more relaxing retail experience is in nearby Wimbledon Village. Home to independent boutiques and upmarket designer stores; don’t dismiss Wimbledon Broadway completely as Ely’s is one of the oldest department stores in London, established 1876.
Visit a Community Farm
credit: London looks
Deen City Farm in nearby Morden is well worth the quick journey on the 93 bus if you have kids, as this urban farm is home to a wide variety of animals and birds. Favourites include the ferrets, the alpacas and Edna the Barn Owl. Used in the local community to educate children about rural farm life you can also take horse riding lessons.
Visit the gardens of an Historic Country House
Built in the 1700s Cannizaro House in a corner of Wimbledon Common has a rich history of being home to centuries of noble families including King George V’s mistress, the wife of the Duke of Wellington. While the house is now a hotel you can still enjoy the grounds of Cannizaro Park, which are open to the public and include beautiful rhododendron and azalea gardens. There’s also nearby Morden Hall Park, which is just a few stops on the tram. Now owned by the National Trust this beautiful Georgian country estate is home to two old snuff mills, a beautiful rose garden and 125 acres of parkland. They also have open air theatre here in summer months.
Eat your way around the world
Though I haven’t counted all the different types of cuisine on offer, I think it’s fair to say that you can find food from all four corners of the globe in Wimbledon. This is thanks in part to its proximity to Tooting, famous for its South Asian communities and restaurants, but there are also African, South American, European and Asian restaurants in Wimbledon. My recommendations include the Brazilian meat feast at Rodizio Preto, the Hot Pink Grill for an amusingly-named healthy eating experience and iYara is a very popular Thai restaurant on Merton Road.
Drink a pint in a traditional pub…
Wimbledon is a great place to find yourself on a cold, rainy day – honestly! – because it has such a high number of traditional British pubs serving warm food and not too warm beer. One of Wimbledon’s oldest pubs is The Crooked Billet which has a lovely green on its doorstep and is popular for Sunday lunches. Best for hearty home-cooked food is gastro pub The Fox & Grapes.
…or enjoy a cocktail in the sun
Admittedly still a traditional style pub, The Alexandra also has a great rooftop garden that offers a great little spot for a drink in the sun. The rooftop outdoors area at the appropriately named The Terrace is also a great place to watch Wimbledon move from day to night and the cocktail menu is worth going inside for to order more drinks.
Stock up at the Farmers’ Market
A regular Saturday Farmers’ Market takes place at Wimbledon Park Primary School where you’ll find organic vegetables, butcher’s stalls and organic cheeses and preservatives. There are also street food stalls selling pies and pasta if you really don’t want to cook yourself. Kicking off at 9 am don’t sleep in too late as the market finishes around lunchtime.
Do you know Wimbledon well? What else would you recommend adding to this list to make a stay in this London neighbourhood even more memorable?