Even if it's what you come for, Wimbledon shouldn't be just about the tennis. The area and some of its Southwest London neighbours have some of the most commanding attractions and distractions in all of the city, not to mention tons of natural beauty. So when a match is done, don't just hop into the centre, take a look around locally...
Wimbledon and Putney Commons
Just across the road from the tennis, Wimbledon Common is the first obvious stop on any exploration of the area. The commons are famous for being fictionalised as both a setting in War Of The Worlds and as home to UK children's TV characters and pioneering ecologists The Wombles. They do have plenty of real history too; the wonderfully preserved windmill was where Robert Baden-Powell wrote much of Scouting For Boys. Most of all though, it's a great place for a stroll or a having a picnic while watching the world – dragonflies, dog walkers, horse-riders et al – go by. The striking Buddhapadipa Temple and its grounds, between the tennis club and commons are well worth a look too.
Nearest Tube: Wimbledon
What many visitors don't initially realise is that London is still, in many ways, a collection of small towns and villages. Nowhere exemplifies this more than Wimbledon Village, with its distinct semi-rural chic. With period buildings aplenty and the Common as its backdrop, the village is suburban London at its finest and there's something for all tastes among its many great bars, boutiques and restaurants.
Nearest Tube: Wimbledon
Wimbledon New Theatre
Just into the 'town' side of the area, the New Wimbledon Theatre is a great alternative to the West End venues, with every bit as much history. The attractive Edwardian building has seen the likes of Noel Coward and Gracie Fields tread its boards and was the site of the premiere of Lionel Bart's much-loved musical Oliver! Coinciding with this year's Wimbledon season is Spirit of The Dance, an award-winning production which combines Latin faves (the tango, salsa, flamenco) with Irish dancing.
Nearest Tube: Wimbledon
Tooting Bec Lido
What, you didn't bring your swimming costume to London? Fair enough, you don't really expect the weather for it, but when a good summer day hits, the place to be is the open-air pool. A little to the east of Wimbledon, between Tooting and Streatham, Tooting Bec Lido is the largest and one of the oldest – it was opened in 1906 - such facilities in the UK. Open between May and September, the Lido is largely secluded from the common that surrounds it, and has a children's paddling area and café, making it perfect for a relaxed family outing.
Nearest tube: Tooting Bec
While central London's most famous parks are gorgeous in their own right and deserve a place on any summer itinerary, it would be wrong to miss out on Richmond Park, especially if you're visiting for the tennis. With 2,360 acres, it's the pride of south-west London and the largest of all the Royal Parks. Aside from its ornamental garden, Georgian mansion restaurant (Pembroke Lodge) and stunning views from King Henry's Mound, it's also home to around 600 red and fallow deer amongst other wildlife. A superb contrast to the hustle and bustle, it's like having the best of the countryside within (or at least at the edge of) the city. And all for free.
Nearest tube: Richmond or East Putney. Various National Rail links.
Visiting Wimbledon also puts you on the right side of town for the beautiful and historic Kew Gardens. The sprawling gardens are home to countless perennial attractions including three exotic plant-filled greenhouses, the 250-year old Pagoda and the Orangery, one of the finest places to take classic afternoon tea. Things get even better with some of the new additions though, the best of which is the magnificent treetop walkway. Built by the same team who designed the London Eye, the walkway features a perforated floor for those with enough nerve to look down, and the whole structure sways in the wind.
Nearest tube: Kew Gardens
Once you've seen some world-class tennis and toured the 'posh' end of the area, let your hair down at the dogs. The last London home of a classic British pastime, Wimbledon Stadium, already mentioned in our Rainy Day Entertainment guide, is where sport meets the pub with a thrilling mix of spectacle and banter and of course, a touch of gambling. It only takes a couple of quid to be hooked. Nearest Tube: Wimbledon Park Thanks to Flickr photographers alexliivet, ZapTheDingbat, johnrobertshepherd, smallvalues and Phillie Casablanca.
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About the author: andrewAndrew Bowman
Andrew is an occasional contributor to the Virgin Atlantic blog. He lived in the Japanese countryside for two years until he could no longer resist the pull of London's galleries, pubs and clubs. He likes to pretend he can speak Japanese and also sometimes writes about music.