Guest Post by Lisa Fantino
If you’re visiting London but looking to escape the city, here is a top 5 list of city escapes less than one hour by train from central London.
- Royal Windsor/Eton – This is a lovely day trip to a place where knights and queens truly do roam. Windsor Castle is the largest inhabited castle in the world. There’s a wonderful exhibit with highlights of the massive 1992 fire and the reconstruction which followed. Do know that when the flag is flying, the Queen is home. Be aware that if you start out early in the day, you just might be able to catch the parade and changing of the guard which takes place daily and offers a much more intimate experience than what goes on at London’s Buckingham Palace.
- Hampton Court Palace – is only about ½ hour by train and the Palace is within walking distance of the station once you arrive. Hampton Court was Henry VIII’s domain after he stole it from Cardinal Wolsey. It is a massive structure and you might not be able to see it all in one day. You can bring a picnic lunch if the weather is nice and make sure you visit the garden maze. I needed the assistance of an eight-year-old to find my way out.
- Brighton/Hove – is a colorful trip back to the 1960s and 70s. It’s a very artsy community which reminded me of the hippie culture. There are many cafes and antique shops, along with an old boardwalk pier to browse on the beach. The Royal Pavilion at Brighton is a bit over the top in décor but it’s a must-see if you’re in town.
- Westfield London – this is new to central London and is a shopaholic’s dream away from the high streets of the city center. Here you will find every typically British boutique and top department store, except for Selfridge’s, of course, which will never leave Oxford Street. There is an enormous food court and even a cinema so it’s a good getaway for a rainy day in London Town. It’s located at the newly built Wood Lane tube stop on the Hammersmith line.
- The National Archives at Kew – This is a fascinating journey for those who are history buffs or into genealogy. This is the repository for the British National Archives and offers over 1,000 years of historic records. Here in the Kew Records Room, you can actually put your hands on a newspaper dating back to Jack the Ripper. This is not microfiche or some digital image; this is the real newspaper. They lend you a pair of white gloves and you are on your way to stepping through history. They even have old London phone directories from Victorian times…….before they had phones. The building itself is a work of art and sits across from a beautiful reflecting pond. Kew Gardens is also nearby.
Lisa Fantino is an award-winning journalist and attorney and the Italy travel concierge and creative force behind Wanderlust Women Travel. She recently launched the Amalfi wedding site, Wanderlust Weddings. Her love of Amalfi has also inspired her to gather sterling silver jewelry and gifts inspired by the blues of the region at Amalfi Blu. In her spare time, she writes travel blogs as Lady Litigator.