London with Locals

London with Locals

Living in Japan, it's rare that I get the opportunity to travel to a place that doesn't require a lot of advance research on my part. Traipsing through strange foreign lands is quite fun -- don't get me wrong here -- but David and I often find ourselves aching for the familiar (read: the English language). This summer we satiated our desire for the uncomplicated with a trip to visit friends and family in London, where we were treated to some seriously epic British experiences (including Wimbledon seats sandwiched between the royal box and David Beckham). It was my first time in London, and I'm already scheming my return!

Keep scrolling for a list of my favorite stops from our tour -- courtesy of London locals. I'd like to extend a big thank you to our wonderful hosts in England: my Uncle Michael, Aunt Jinder and my bestie Tamara alongside her husband Cedric. You made our trip so memorable.

{Above & Below: scenes from the Columbia Flower Market}

{Above & Below: scenes from the Columbia Flower Market}

{Front door inspo on Columbia Road}

{Front door inspo on Columbia Road}

{Artsy storefronts in Shoreditch}

{Artsy storefronts in Shoreditch}

{Strolling the Regent's Canal}

{Strolling the Regent's Canal}

{Above: the front lawn at the Geffrye Museum | Below: the museum's period gardens}

{Above: the front lawn at the Geffrye Museum | Below: the museum's period gardens}

{The cutest little greenhouse at the Geffrye Musuem}

{The cutest little greenhouse at the Geffrye Musuem}

{Buckingham Palace}

{Buckingham Palace}

{Palace gardens}

{Palace gardens}

{Turrets as far as the eye can see}

{Turrets as far as the eye can see}

{Above: a corner of the Kyoto Garden in Holland Park | Below: pub patio views & double-decker buses on Brompton Road}

{Above: a corner of the Kyoto Garden in Holland Park | Below: pub patio views & double-decker buses on Brompton Road}

{Maaajor windowsill envy!}

{Maaajor windowsill envy!}

{The obligatory Tower Bridge photo - I love the juxtaposition of old and new here}

{The obligatory Tower Bridge photo - I love the juxtaposition of old and new here}

{Sweets galore in Harrod's food hall}

{Sweets galore in Harrod's food hall}

{Above: rooftop Wimbledon screening at Madison | Below: afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason}

{Above: rooftop Wimbledon screening at Madison | Below: afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason}

{Unlimited pâtisserie!}

{Unlimited pâtisserie!}

{Skyline views from SUSHISAMBA}

{Skyline views from SUSHISAMBA}

{My most prized London souvenir: a Wimbledon champagne koozie}

{My most prized London souvenir: a Wimbledon champagne koozie}

{Roger Federer in the midst of his dramatic come-from-behind victory}

{Roger Federer in the midst of his dramatic come-from-behind victory}

{Wimbledon eats}

{Wimbledon eats}

{Above & Below: scenes from Richmond}

{Above & Below: scenes from Richmond}

{Floating homes on the River Thames}

{Floating homes on the River Thames}

{Richmond Bridge - the oldest surviving Thames bridge in London}

{Richmond Bridge - the oldest surviving Thames bridge in London}

{Above: canoes for hire in Richmond | Below: scenes from the Tower of London}

{Above: canoes for hire in Richmond | Below: scenes from the Tower of London}

{Tower views)

{Tower views)

{Above: Tower tilework | Below: Petersham Nurseries}

{Above: Tower tilework | Below: Petersham Nurseries}

{The teahouse at Petersham Nurseries}

{The teahouse at Petersham Nurseries}

{Above: chai tea with carrot, coconut and chocolate cake |Below: passion vines}

{Above: chai tea with carrot, coconut and chocolate cake |Below: passion vines}

SEE + DO

Columbia Flower Market for all the plants you wish you could grow and not kill.

The Geffrye Museum for a peek inside the typical residences of London's middling sort (aka, middle class) from 1600 to today.

Richmond Park for strolling, running or biking (rent by the hour here). Also, wild deer!

Greenwich Market for a historic covered market with antiques, art, fashion, crafts, jewelry and great eats.

The Leighton House Museum for the most beautiful home tour you'll ever go on.

The Thames Clipper for a leisurely river cruise.

The Tower of London for a necessary education in medieval history.

Wimbledon for tennis, champagne, strawberries (they grow their own) and celebrities (duh).

The National Maritime Museum for an in-depth look at the sea explorations that shaped our world (coming from Asia, I particularly enjoyed their exhibit on the tea and spice trade).

Brick Lane for all things hipster, from vintage shopping to unconventional eateries (including a cereal bar).

Holland Park for a garden that will transport you to Japan.

The British Museum for a remarkable collection of world-famous historical relics that date back millions of years.

Regent's Canal for a quiet walk.

EAT + DRINK

Pavilion Bakery for yummy pastries to nibble on while you peruse Columbia Road.

Morito Hackney Road for amazing tapas and mezze. 

Fortnum & Mason for afternoon tea, because you're fancy and you're in England (and the finger sandwiches, scones and cakes are bottomless).

Tayyabs for traditional Punjabi cuisine.

Lupita for an actually good taqueria (because maybe you're an American who misses Mexican food).

Madison for a posh rooftop bar with all the right views.

Harrod's for their epic food hall (head to the ground floor).

La Luna Di Luca for a cozy Italian dinner.

Richmond Hill Bakery for quiche and coffee to start your day.

The White Cross for a lively pub experience on a riverfront patio.

Petersham Nurseries for tea and cake inside of a lush greenhouse (or go for their wine tastings on Saturdays).

Note: This travel guide is available as a GPS-enabled map with offline navigation. Click here to download the guide and receive turn-by-turn walking directions between sights -  no data plan or WIFI required!  
A Japanese Guesthouse in Naoshima

A Japanese Guesthouse in Naoshima

Favorite Places // Afuri

Favorite Places // Afuri