I lived for several years in SW19, the leafy and usually sleepy suburb of London known as Wimbledon. But every year around this time the Championships of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club thrust Wimbledon onto the world stage and made Wimbledon a buzz of activity. Today is the culmination of the championships with the Gentleman’s Singles final between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in what promises to be an interesting match.
While people usually come out to Wimbledon only for the tennis, if you’re ever in London, particularly with kids I suggest you come out for the day and see what else it has to offer from peaceful parks to quirky museums and on the right days a vibrant art scene to view.
Wimbledon Park – in the two weeks of the Championships the infamous queue for daily tickets snakes its way through part of the park. The rest of the year it’s a weekend meeting place for many locals. Kids enjoy the large playground and in summer there is a great paddling pool. Public tennis courts, a mini golf course, boating lake (with pre-requisite ducks) and plenty of open spaces for football (of all codes), picnics or other outdoor amusement abound.
Windmill Museum – I never imagined there would be a museum of windmills in Wimbledon but there is and quite a good one. Located on Wimbledon Common, another large urban park for exploring the Museum gives plenty of detail on the history and working of windmills and has hands-on milling for children making it worth a quick stop while you explore the Common. And not far from the Common you also have first Buddhist temple of its type built in the UK.
Deen City Farm – Free of charge, this educational farm and riding school is great for the family and a good diversion from the plethora of museums and art galleries you’ll encounter on the rest of a London visit.
Wimbledon Art Studios – a warehouse full of tiny art studios just behind Wimbledon’s dog racing track has several open Art Shows through the year where the artists put on some wine and nibbles while you peruse a wide variety of styles from aspiring and established artists (many who are regulars in central London galleries at much higher prices). I always enjoyed the shows, even if you didn’t buy anything as you’ll always find something that caters to your tastes and I love a good maze of corridors to navigate.