Hampstead Heath is a legend: 800 acres of wide-open space dotted with ponds, woods, walking tracks, and the odd stately home. North Londoners take pride in this place, where you will find dog walkers, picnickers, Saturday soccer players, and hardy outdoor swimmers at all times of the year. It brings a touch of true wilderness to the city, and it’s also home to a lido, a stately home with an unrivalled art collection (at Kenwood House), and the famous bathing ponds established by the Victorians (and thus separate for gentlemen and ladies). Parliament Hill also offers one of the best views in London.

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Picnic at the Heath

There are many places to escape city life in London. One lovely place for a warm afternoon is the Hampstead Heath, a natural area filled with trees, greenery, and lakes with swimming areas. Parliament Hill is a favorite spot for picnicking, kite flying, and admiring the city skyline. Take the London Overground train north to the Hampstead Heath stop, then walk uphill.

Ghosts of London's Past

One of my favorite things about London was stumbling upon historical relics when I least expected it. Walking down from the Hampstead Heath, we reached a well-to-do neighborhood of brick homes with white trim. The first house we examined had a blue plaque with a familiar name; it was the former home of novelist George Orwell. Looks like he rose up from the days of being “Down and Out in Paris and London.”

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