Autumn is reaching it’s final days, and the effects of the pending seasonal shift are slowly being felt here in London. The once beautifully colored trees that line the courtyard of my building are now bare, and I cannot leave the flat comfortably with just a light jacket anymore. The scarf stays on every single day and I frequently opt to wear tights beneath my jeans, but hey, that could very well just be the southern side of me adjusting to the brisk chill in the air that I’ve never had to become accustomed to before.
With the season slowly reaching its close and as well as my first semester here, I’d like to take some time to reflect on some of my favorite things to go out and do or places to explore during the autumn season here in the capital city. With all that being said and me being true to form, I have compiled a list.
- Daunt Books
Located in Marylebone is the shining beacon of literary light to all those who seek an indie bookshop: Daunt Books. While, the outside looks lovely, it does not serve to prepare the unknowing visitor at all for what lies within… that is, of course, the gorgeous collection of books of every subject on every wall that offers a place. One of the most interesting aspects of Daunt is that a good deal of the books there are sorted by location. By this I mean there is a section that is dedicated for books from Asia or the Americas, Germany, and so on and so forth.
I first found myself seeking out Daunt Books on a crisp October Saturday afternoon after seeing countless Londoners on the tube carrying cloth bags with the store front depicted on the front. I was so pleased when one of my classmates walked in with one that I couldn’t resist asking and I was promptly assured that the store was well worth the trip. It was indeed.
Should you wish to seek out a warm drink after perusing the shelves, the Monocle, a news publication, has a picturesque cafe less than a 10 minute walk away. The day we visited the menu boasted hot chocolate with matcha whip cream (like green tea, and yes, while I realize it’s an odd combination it was most definitely delicious) and warm cinnamon rolls
2. St. James’ Park and Green Park
There are countless green spaces scattered throughout London. In fact it’s one of the countless reasons that I love living here. However, 2 of my favorites are St. James’ Park and Green Park especially during autumn as the views of the changing and delightfully colored landscape are not to be beaten.
While Green Park is lined with gorgeous and incredibly thick (aka ancient) trees that boast dramatic autumnal colors, there is something that draws me more to St. James. Perhaps, its the Serpentine, a body of water in the center, that plays a host to ducks and large swans. It could also be the many scattered botanical arrangements that give the landscape another boost of color… but whatever it is I would gladly spend a couple weekend hours sitting out on a blanket with a warm cup of coffee or tea and just watching the people and the birds that they’re so often fascinated by.
3. The British Museum
Seeing as I study both ancient history and classical archaeology, I find myself at the British Museum on at least a weekly basis. I’ve been to the Sunken Cities exhibit (closing Nov. 27) more than once, and I’m quite familiar with my way around the galleries. Given that I’m quite biased towards the museum as a result of my university degree subject, I still insist that everyone should visit at least once.
The museum offers free entry and has collections that would astound anyone. With halls full of precious Egyptian mummies through to more modern South African art there really is something here to entertain just about anyone.
My personal favorites of the museum are the Mexican gallery that feature artifacts from the Aztec and Maya as well as the Greek and Mycenaean galleries. The British Museum is open 7 days a week and offers many specialized free tours throughout the museum at designated times. They’re well worth planning for. Another spectacular free resource the museum offers are handling stations that are manned by carefully trained volunteers throughout the galleries. You can hold designated artifacts that pertain to the wing you’re visiting depending on the day and time. I’ve visited them on more than once occasion and have been lucky enough to get to hold Athenian drachmas that were 2,500 years old.
Those kinds of things always make my day about 50 times better.
4. A Stroll through Covent Garden
Covent Garden is a covered shopping center right off of the Stand and within walking distance of both Bloomsbury and Soho. Many days I’ll use my breaks to have a stroll through the cobblestone streets and look at the beautifully decorated windows or listen to street performers. If you’re lucky enough sometimes string groups will play that I think are spectacularly good beyond you’re run of the mill acts.
As Christmas and December are rapidly approaching a lot is going up around Covent Garden including an absolutely massive Christmas tree. There are also huge mistletoe lights hung along the streets to light holiday shoppers’ ways after dark which here comes a little after 4 pm this time of year.
One of my flatmates and I made our way out to Brixton Village (accessible via the Victoria Line) in order to go to a vintage clothing sale somewhat early one Saturday morning. while we found great things at the clothing sale, we decided to stay in the area a little longer to explore Brixton Village, a decision we were both incredibly pleased with.
If you can find your way in, you’ll happen upon a covered market place with all sorts of little store fronts concealed within it. We just so happened to be looking for a coffee place I’d read about by the name of Federation Coffee, a shop we both adored. There are plenty of sweet cafes and quirky art shops to be seen. Definitely an autumn outing well spent.
6. Natural History Museum
While my heart remains with the British Museum, the Natural History Museum in South Kensington is definitely not too far behind in the race. With dinosaurs, a Charles Darwin statue, and so much more, it’s really hard not to enjoy an afternoon wandering around inside the museum.
As the holiday season approaches quickly an ice-skating rink has appeared outside the museum so you could totally enjoy a lovely winter skate and then wander inside to see your prehistoric friends or some of Darwin’s findings.
Et viola! There is my list of some of my favorite things to do in London this autumn season. Enjoy!