Kingston upon Thames is the place to be if you want a day or night out just outside of central London. Formerly part of Surrey but now a royal borough of Greater London. With easy access via National Rail services or underground stations nearby, as well as buses and tons of car parking facilities you'll be sure to find Kingston reachable in order to experience it in all its glory.
I live just a stone's throw from Kingston, so I have created the perfect guide so you can make the most of a day or evening in the infamous town centre.
Here are my picks of what to do in the daytime at Kingston upon Thames
Kingston is renowned as one of the best places to shop in the South East of England. With High end brands and high street favourites you'll have to save your pennies for the ultimate shopping spree- minus the Oxford Circus style crowds and queues. Eden Walk, Clarence Street and The Bentall centre are all heaving with retail stores. These are within walking distance from each other in the main square of town- it is a 5 minute walk from the station or buses stop in the middle of the shopping area. Be sure to check out: John Lewis; The Bentall Centre and the market square.
Market: Speaking of the market square this is where Kingston's heritage lies. Traditionally Kingston is a historic market square which has evolved over the years. However, head down the high street and turn left onto Kingston's Ancient Market square and you will still find a thriving old fashioned market place. The Market is open 6 days a week, Monday - Saturday from 9am 5pm selling fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, clothing and pet supplies plus much much more! During the Christmas season the square plays host to a German Christmas market so head down for a mulled wine or two. The market is outlined by tons of shops including: Lush; Jack Wills; Costa; Links London and Next.
Food and Drink: If you've worked up an appetite after all that shopping then head along the riverside to the array of cafes, bars and restaurants. If you're lucky enough to visit when the sun is shining the view of the Thames is spectacular. You can sip a coffee or a cocktail whilst watching sailboats and swans pass by. You are also welcome to sit at the edge of the riverside and have a picnic. This place is bustling yet relaxing. You'll find numerous pubs, a Valerie patisserie, Wagamama, a small café and Woodie's Bar and Grill. The riverside development at Charter Quay has a heady mix of high quality residential accommodation, atmospheric restaurants and specialist retailers- perfect for a midday rest or a stroll in the sunshine. If you're on a marathon shopping trip you'll find the usual places to stop off quickly among the shops including: Starbucks; Costa; McDonalds and Krispy Kreme.
Ride down the Riverside: If you've enjoyed lunch by the river why not hop on a boat and experience it for yourself. Kingston has almost three miles of one of the most attractive stretches of the River Thames. Contact one of the local boat hiring agents like Parr Boat Hire or Turk Launches by calling or heading to their websites. You can hire facilities for private functions, sail or hop on a river tour.
Places to Visit: If shopping is not your thing or you've hunted down every bargain possible why not head to Hampton Court Palace or Richmond Park? They are both within walking distance of Kingston upon Thames.
Hampton Court Palace is one of the world's finest Royal Palaces. Set in 60 acres of beautiful gardens and home to some of Britain's most famous Kings and Queens, its unique history, splendour and sheer scale continue to impress. This Palace of many stories overlooks the river Thames and is a magnificent blend of sumptuous Tudor décor and Wren's baroque architecture. The Palace enjoys extensive parkland and gardens, and includes the famous maze. It is about a 10 minute bus journey from Kingston Town centre.
Richmond Park is a heritage landscape of national importance and is listed Grade 1 on the English Heritage Register. The landscape still preserves the essential character of an ancient deer park in the English tradition. The most important features of the Park are the spacious grasslands and bracken stretches, inhabited by some 750 fallow and red deer, the Pen and other ponds and the woods with their ancient trees. You can head to the Richmond Park Kingston gate by catching the bus from the town centre towards Putney or Sutton.
There are walks and cycle routes to Hampton Court and Richmond along some of the most picturesque stretches of the Thames. Head back to the riverside if you fancy a walk or cycle instead of the bus.
So that was your guide to a fun filled culturally enriched day in K-town, now see what happens when the sun goes down.
Restaurants: There is a wealth full of places to eat in the evenings at Kingston. There are familiar chains such as: Byron; Gourmet Burger Kitchen; Carluccios, Strada and La Tasca by the river front. You will also find Pizza Express, Nandos and Las Iguanas so there is literally something for everyone, on any budget. There are also independent restaurants like the Riverside Vegetarian Café and a Mexican shack which both boast a fresh and sumptuous menu.
Clubs and Bars: Kingston is a hub for nightlife of all varieties, being just outside of London and a student town centre the bars and clubs are packed out almost every night of the week. You will find commercial clubs such as: Oceana; The Hippodrome and McClusky's- each of these hosts different nights anything from Student Night, Indie or Fancy Dress. Smaller independent clubs like Bacchus and Ama-gi are popular with the younger crowds and offer alternative music styles to the bigger clubs. If you fancy a quieter, sociable drink head along the river to find cool pubs like: The Ram; The Mill and O'Neill's.
The Rotunda: If you don't fancy straying far from the station or can't find what you're looking for in the high street get it all under one roof here…The Rotunda, a modern entertainment complex built over 4 levels, is ideally located on Clarence Street in Kingston upon Thames directly opposite the mainline railway station. Open 7 days a week until late, The Rotunda offers a choice of venues including a 14 screen Odeon cinema – the largest in the UK, David Lloyd Leisure club, 16 lane Megabowl as well as a variety of 7 restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets. Restaurants inside include: Frangos; Frankie and Benny's, Prezzo and Cattle Grid- a newly opened steak and burger joint.
Phew! I told you there is a lot to do in Kingston! Be sure to get the night bus or train home or stop over in the Travel Lodge just 5 minute walk from the over ground station. Hopefully I have provided you with the best way to spend your time in this busy, exciting and modern town.
Last but not least here is my list of amazing places you must visit in the town centre.
•Banquet Record Store- Independent music store- great range of music and these guys are responsible for New Slang indie club night.