South Bank Outdoors – Any London visitor probably has a list of must-see attractions.
That list likely includes the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and Big Ben.
Those in the know also will include South Bank on their list.
If you haven’t heard about this massive entertainment complex, then it’s time you did.
I love visiting London in any season, but in recent visits, I have fallen in love with South Bank Outdoors during the summer.
If you like touristy neighborhoods, which I do, then you’ll probably be as attracted to this area as I am.
Each time I visit, I’m struck by how incredibly diverse the offerings are.
Where else could you tour a world-class war museum, rooftop activities and views in London and experience zip lining over a major urban area all within a few blocks?
That’s the kind of diversity that you get with this district.
People frequently say that a certain destination “has something for everyone.”
This isn’t always exactly true in my experience, but then, most places don’t boast the number and variety of attractions that South Bank does.
South Bank Outdoors in London
Let’s talk about why this district is so appealing.
It has a fantastic location on the River Thames, stretching roughly from Westminster Bridge to Blackfriars Bridge.
Between them is approximately two square miles of entertainment.
Some people, who are either lucky or crazy depending upon your perspective, actually live here in some incredibly posh flats.
However, the district is mainly designed for amusement and to provide upscale accommodations.
With its location in the center of the city, it’s incredibly easy to get here.
Blackfriars, Charing Cross and Waterloo train stations are all a walk away.
Tube stations are located at Southwark, Blackfriars, Embankment, Waterloo and Westminster.
The city’s remarkably efficient public transport system is all you need.
Once there, you should prepare yourself to be amazed.
This is where you’ll find the Eye, an observation wheel that you’re already familiar with if you’ve seen any movie that was filmed within the last decade or so that is purportedly set in this city.
The London Eye is an awesome place to watch sunset in London
Originally conceived as a temporary installation, the Eye has proved to be so popular that it has since been made permanent.
I have to say that the 40-kilometer views that you can get on a clear day are breathtaking.
If heights don’t bother you, then this should surely be on your itinerary.
Another favorite attraction in the area is the Dungeon.
It’s not for the squeamish or those who are subject to anxiety when exposed to sensory overload, but it is surprisingly educational and entertaining at the same time.
The Dungeon has been in existence for some four decades, using actors and special effects to bring to life tales of the macabre in a walk-through experience.
All of your senses will be stimulated as you wander through nearly 20 live shows.
They even throw in a couple of underground rides for good measure.
You’ll probably laugh far more than you scream during your tour, and you’re bound to be surprised by how much you learn.
I make it a point to tour the Dungeon on nearly all of my trips.
If dungeons and torture aren’t exactly your speed, then you may be interested in the Sea Life Aquatic Center.
This is another favorite for me.
I never miss the gentoo penguins, and with more than 500 creatures to visit, I feel like there’s always something new.
Many of the creatures are on the endangered species list.
Some of them were rescued and could not be returned to the wild.
Either way, an outing here makes for a fun and educational experience that the whole family appreciates.
The district also is famous for the arts.
It’s the site of the Young and Old Vic Theaters.
If there’s a production while you’re in town, then it’s definitely worth the price of a ticket.
Both theaters sponsor amazing productions with some of the best actors in the world.
Or, perhaps the Bargehouse is more your style.
This warehouse space hosts a variety of entertainment that includes theatrical performances and art exhibitions.
Many of these events are free, so if you’re on a budget, don’t pass up this one.
Lest you think that everything in this neighborhood is completely stimulating and promising wall-to-wall excitement, I have to add that there are many peaceful, open areas between the bridges.
You’ll discover the Bernie Spain Gardens and the Jubilee Gardens, both offering opportunities to enjoy gorgeous natural scenery and the perfect picnic.
Ideal for people watching or enjoying a good book, these gardens and other parks are great places to relax and get away from it all in the middle of the city.
The Montcalm at the Brewery
This area boasts some really fabulous hotels as well. One of the best, in my opinion, is The Montcalm at the Brewery London City.
Once the Whitbread & Co. brewery, it is now a five-star hotel that even the most discriminating traveler would appreciate.
The property maintains much of its 18th-century bones, but that doesn’t mean that 21st-century comforts are excluded.
On the contrary, these are some incredibly luxurious accommodations.
Rooms and suites at the Montcalm carefully blend Old-World elegance with modern amenities.
The sash windows give you a view of the past even as you hook up your MP3 player and turn on the LCD television.
Bathrooms feature gorgeous marble surfaces and rain-style shower heads.
I didn’t need to use my travel hair dryer, theirs are awesome.
Bath products are provided by Hermes and Elemis.
If you want to customize your experience, ask about the pillow menu and the ability to choose the aromas you’ll enjoy in your room.
Just across the street are The Barbican Rooms Hotel, another Montcalm property.
Ideal for families or those who are planning a longer stay, these accommodations include kitchenettes.
The restaurants at The Montcalm at The Brewery also are available.
South Bank Outdoors is the ideal venue for enjoying summer in the city.
Whether your first love is culture or thrills, you’ll find excellent attractions here.
Plus, with so many restaurants, bars and amazing hotels, I’d be hard-pressed to recommend a better home base in the U.K.
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