Nearly 500 Cool, Hidden & Unusual Things to Do in London

by SharonKurheg

With rare exception, Joe and I tend to travel together. True, there were the couple of times he went on business trips (one of which I surprised the hell out of him and showed up), or one of us went to visit people that the other really didn’t know.  I also went on a Virgin Voyages cruise with a friend,  as a “girls trip,” and he stayed home. Neither of us have a problem with the other traveling solo, or even with friends (*cough* neither does Dear Abby *cough*).

In that vein, Joe is going to London and Wales this March and I’m not. To be honest, that would usually be a trip I would go on too. After all, London is one of my most favourite (did you see what I did there?) cities in the world, and I’ve never been to Wales. But Dobby, our toy poodle, is getting close to 15 and since this is a trip where I don’t “really” have to go, I’m choosing to stay at home with her so she doesn’t have to go to the kennel.

Anyway, his itinerary for Wales is pretty much done. But he was musing what to do while he was in London, especially in light of the fact that he didn’t necessarily have to cater to MY likes and dislikes, for a change (I’m exactly the same way; if Joe’s not with me, I go to a whole lot more touristy crap shops LOL!). So I offered to help.

Although we have our differences in some things we like and don’t like, we both enjoy visiting, shall we say, quirky places. Enter Atlas Obscura.

“Founded in 2009, Atlas Obscura catalogs unusual and obscure travel destinations via user-generated content.” (thanks, Wikipedia!)

Needless to say, for years, Atlas Obscura has been my go-to for going down rabbit holes and finding weird places. And when it came to London, it didn’t disappointed. They offered nearly 500 cool, hidden and usual things to do. A few of them are no longer open, and a couple aren’t really open to the public. But overall, it’s a great, comprehensive list of the more oddball things to see in London.

Although we haven’t been to all of the places listed (or even a whole lot of them. We’ve been to London a good half dozen times but our time is limited), I was pleased to see we had been to a handful. Here were some of them:

Platform 9-3/4

A Harry Potter reference, Platform 9-3/4, at Kings Cross Station, has moved at least three times over the years. However it appears to be in a relatively “permanent” space now, right next to, of course, an official Harry Potter-themed gift shop.

Platform 9-3/4 has a photo op where you get pose to look as if you’re going through the wall between Platforms 9 and 10. Official photos are available for purchase, and “Oh yes, we did!”

a man and woman pushing a cart with luggage

Earl’s Court Police Box

Going back to our first visit to London in 1995, we stayed at a hotel close to the Earl’s Court tube station. It was me, Joe (we weren’t a couple yet, just friends) and 2 other friends, one of which was a HUGE Dr. Who fan. He was thrilled to pieces when he “found a Tardis.”

a blue police box on a sidewalk

© Copyright Richard Cooke and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The London Dungeon

The London Dungeon was another place we visited a couple of times. During our earliest visit, in 1996, it was really nothing more than a gory haunted house that featured scenes of the plague, torture and murders that occurred in London several centuries ago. There were scare actors milling about, but the attraction was made for you to walk through it at your own pace.

By the 2010s, the London Dungeon, which had grown considerably over the years, moved from where we had originally seen it, at Tooley Street, to Southbank (near the London Eye and some other touristy attractions). By then it had morphed into an actor-led tour.

Personally, I liked the old way better. But no one asked me. 😉

Sir John Soane’s Museum

From May, 1989 to September, 2008, Walt Disney World had an area called Pleasure Island (PI). It’s part of where Disney Springs is, today. PI was their adult nightclub district and has several bars with different themes. 1970s. Country Western. A dance club. BET Club, etc.

One of the most popular bars was The Adventurers Club. It was a themed interactive comedy club and was truly my most favorite place on earth. Joe and I even rented the AdvClub out for one night in Feb. 2002, and had our rehearsal dinner there, the night before our wedding.

Anyway, the Adventurers Club was an eclectic experience and trying to explain it to people who had never been was never easy. This Wiki does a pretty good job, though. Even the visuals of the place were far from most places:

a group of people in a room with a statuea group of people posing for a photo

The visuals of the Adventurers Club were based off a variety of places, one of which was Sir John Soane’s Museum, which is described as, “a cluttered and astounding collection of antiquities and curiosities.” We HAD to go.

Our visit was in the early 2000s and yes, it was as quirky as one would hope. It was very similar to the AdvClub, complete with artifacts all over the walls.

So if you’re looking for something to do beyond the same old, same old, and have already visited the British Museum, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, and Buckingham Palace, check out what Atlas Obscura has to suggest.

Feature Image of Out of Order by David Mach (cropped): Loco Steve / flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED

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