Outdoor Activities In East London – Like most of London, Hackney is part of a pre-Roman town. This part of north London became an aristocracy from the Tudor period onwards and many of its most famous buildings were built there. Today, Hackney is a melting pot of ancient architecture and 21st century places. Whatever your reason for going, there are plenty of places to visit and we’ve identified ten places that will make anyone happy. If you have your own favorite places in Hackney, let us know in the comments.
If your little treasure really likes to sit down and get crafty, take them to Wonderland Ceramics. This cafe studio offers ready-made ceramic cookies that you paint and glaze on the spot, a constant reminder of your child’s early creativity. But this is not just another ‘painting jar’ place – the monochrome decoration inspired by Lewis Carroll has a wonderful feel, and the food and drinks are equally unique – the cafe has a traditional Neapolitan charm. In the village, the lever is a coffee machine and they make the usual crepes. Ceramics from £8 to £40 a paint, 237 Victoria Park Road, London E9 (020 8985 1214; www.wonderlandceramics.com)
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TV fans will want to make sure Fassett Square is on their to-do list, especially if they’re fans of the long-running series East Enders. This part of Hackney was the real inspiration for Albert Square, but don’t expect the same atmosphere when you visit. The real-life Fassett is much richer than her fictional counterpart.
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If you’ve ever heard the words ‘Dad, I want a pony’, head to the fantastic riding and riding stables near Clapton Station. All ages and skill levels are catered for, from beginners to beginners, and you can book birthday parties with tea in the central cafe. “Pony Days” allow children to learn what it takes to care for a horse, as well as find time to run, and can ride regularly as members of the Pony Club. Nature reserves, beautiful gardens and peaceful forests surround the center, providing an escape from the city on the horizon. One hour pony ride session £25 per person, 71 Lea Bridge Road, London E10 (020 8556 2629; www.visitleevalley.org.uk )
Brewing has become incredibly popular over the past two decades, and London is sharing in the enthusiasm for new beer. Crate Brewery certainly has a wide selection to please almost every palette, and you can get a perfectly matched pizza by boiling it down (of the crust-crust variety).
One of the city’s best opportunities to experience rural life, Hackney City Farm exists to educate visitors (especially young people) about how farms work. Hackney City Farm offers several facilities, including a barn, pasture, garden, arboretum and butterfly house. There is also another private school that can help students prepare for life.
Victor Wynd’s Museum of Curiosities is one of London’s most curious museums, but that’s one of the things that makes it so interesting. The Wynd Museum is a combination of art, natural history and surreal elements that keep a small museum from being boring. We can describe some of the shows, but you won’t believe it… so you’ll have to see it for yourself.
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Funded by Kickstarter in 2015, the Victor Wind Museum of Curiosities is a museum and bar in Cambridge Heath and part of the Last Tuesday Society. The collection is diverse and spans several centuries.
One of the most prominent venues for the 2012 Olympics, the London Aquatics Center is located in the new Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a must-see for visitors to London. But Zaha Hadid’s curved concrete and aluminum structure is also a beautiful public pool for the lucky locals.
Toddlers will love the shallow training pools, while the fun for older kids begins with the Extreme Aqua Splash inflatable obstacle course, a spectacular competition pool with popular diving platforms. Family-friendly changing rooms and a pram park offer thoughtful stress relief for parents, while Westfield caters for mealtimes. Swimming children £2, adults £3.50, Swimming Children £2.50, adults £4.50, Olympic Park, London E20 (0800 072 2110; www.lononaquaticscentre.org)
Broadway Market is a large Victorian street market in Hackney Centre. Like most markets in the city, you’ll find lots of things for sale, from fresh produce to home jewelry. It has a unique charm that you won’t find in other markets, where hipsters and artists mingle as freely as shops and stores.
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Originally opened as a music hall in 1901, Hackney Empire is a leading venue. Since then, it has been a TV studio, a bingo hall, and now a theater for plays, dance performances, concerts, stand-up comedy and more. Check the schedule before you go to find the show you want to see the most.
Beautiful antiques! Who doesn’t like to go back in time and dance to real rock ‘n’ roll? I would also like this place to be a paradise for those who remember the past that never lived!
Also known as the Geoffrey House Museum, it showcases domestic life from the 1600s to the present day. Housed in one of the many Grade I listed buildings in the county, the almshouse was built in 1715 following a donation by Sir Robert Geoffrey. It includes any number of rooms from different periods, such as a 1960s loft, a chapel, a 19th-century living room, and even various gardens. The museum is currently closed for development but is expected to reopen next year.
Parents in Walthamstow are combining their creative skills to create things for their children to enjoy too. A quartet of mums and dads have launched BeBop Baby www.bebop-baby.co.uk, a daytime disco that plays grown-up music for kids and serves plenty of cocktails for grown-ups. With little imagination, the Magic Box offers a series of drama moments and stories that transport children to a world full of pirates, astronauts and dinosaurs.
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Magic Box is in Walthamstow’s other child-friendly area, Mothers Hub, a new and used clothing store for babies and children. Basically, if you’re hip and have kids, you should consider moving to Walthamstow. £4 for one child, £6 for two (including food), 133 Wood Street, London, E17 (07957 114994; www.facebook.com/magicboxe17)
London Fields is a park in Hackney with thirty-one acres of greenery, a cricket pitch, a mini BMX track, playgrounds and the city’s largest outdoor swimming pool (or lido as it’s known in the UK). London Fields also has an interesting history, including being a pasture and the site of an anti-aircraft battery during the Second World War, but it’s the facilities that really draw you there.
As mentioned earlier, much of Hackney began to settle during the Tudor period, and Sutton House is an example of this development. It began life as Brick Place, a house built by Sir Ralph Sadleir, Chief Secretary of State to King Henry VIII. Sutton House has played many interesting roles throughout its history and its Tudor style is a real reason to step back in time.
This medieval-style tower near St John’s Churchyard (also worth a visit) is the oldest building in Hackney, dating from the mid-16th century. It was originally part of a sinecure rectory that lasted until 1275, and the tower was part of the rebuilding of the church 300 years later. The old church was demolished in 1798 but St Augustine’s tower still stands and you can climb to the top for one of Hackney’s best views.
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There is no better way to get kids to eat vegetables than to make them look good as they grow. In Dalston’s East Bend garden, look for beautiful squashes and long rows. Architectural collective Exyzt created this leafy oasis on the old Eastern Curve railway line with wildlife-friendly trees and raised beds filled with vegetables tended by local residents. There is a sandbox and cafe serving coffee from the clay oven, fresh lemonade, alcohol and pizza. When the sun goes down, return to the Pineapple House – a storage space with a wood-burning stove. See also Stanley the cat. 13 Dalston Lane, London E8
Hackney is also home to many high street retailers including Burberry! This little-known gem offers great discounts on an amazing collection of British brands.
Like a Pixar movie, the Museum of Childhood will delight adults and children alike. Adults will have wonderful toys from their childhood, while children will wander around the cave, ride rocking horses, play with dolls and hold a dress-up box.
Cafe Benugo has a healthy dose of flat whites (or wine if needed) and small bites like fish finger sandwiches.