Top 10 Local Date Ideas
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and we’re feeling the love. Here are our top 10 date go-tos in and around your area
VENN STREET MARKET, CLAPHAM PICTUREHOUSE
Venn Street is a cobbled corner of Clapham just off the Common and feels worlds away from the urban cosmopolitanism of SW4, particularly on Saturdays when the streets are taken over with a village-like fresh food market. Enjoy a potter down the road and take in the sights and smells of freshly baked crusty breads, golden pastel de natas and bright colour fresh fruit and vegetables. At the end of the lane is the cosy Clapham Picturehouse which is home to a stylish bar, with four screens that show everything from Hollywood classics to indie cult films. Finish your Venn Street romance with a trip to Barsito – an authentic Spanish tapas spot known for its selection of wines.
MARKET HALL FULHAM
Market Hall Fulham is housed in the ornate Edwardian entrance of the 1880 underground station. It has in recent years been lovingly brought back to life after renovation and is now the home to a bustling street food court. The interior has been modified with the old purpose in mind, with gorgeous tiling and old signage that honours its heritage. The market is open seven days a week, with seven different kitchens and a fully-stocked bar where the ticket booth once was, serving British craft beers and spirits. There is space for 250, so you and your date can meander around the street food stands, taking in all the options before deciding and settling on a mouth-watering meal.
KINGSTON BRIDGE TO HAMPTON COURT
Take a long and brisk winter walk from Kingston Bridge, keeping the river to your left, and head towards Hampton Court Palace for an afternoon exhibition or wander around the grounds. The walk offers a great perspective of the palace as you approach from the river. Head into one of the nearby pubs like the Mute Swan for a quick refresher before continuing over the bridge and into the spectacular palace.
Often missed by busy commuters piling into Clapham Common tube station, WC is a hidden gem and the ultimate Clapham date location with a fascinating heritage as an old Victorian public toilet. Now, WC stands for something completely different – wine and charcuterie – the ideal accoutrement for budding romance. The space is cosy and quirky, with intimate snugs and a minute bar where expert mixologists serve up cocktails and velvety red wines that perfectly pair with cheese.
SAATCHI GALLERY AND SATURDAY MARKET
Impress your date by brushing up on your art knowledge and taking them to the Saatchi gallery. Known for being a springboard for global artists, it’s the perfect place for a romantic wander. The grounds also provide a picturesque setting for a post-exhibition picnic if the February rain holds off, so hit the Saturday market that takes place just outside the Saatchi walls, pick up some home baked goods, breads and tasty cheeses and relax in the springtime sunshine on the grass.
PUTNEY HEATH AND WIMBLEDON VILLAGE
If you and your date are outdoorsy types, why not pack a winter picnic and go for a stroll around Putney Heath and Wimbledon Common, with a visit to the age old windmill. Finish off with a stroll in the direction of Wimbledon Village, where you can pop into one of the local restaurants or warm up and enjoy a drink in the Dog & Fox in the very heart of the town.
BARNES BRIDGE AND GREEN
Starting at Barnes Bridge station, head out over the bridge for views stretching into London and keep an eye out for rowers in training. Head left along the towpath to reach the cosy 17th century riverside pub, The White Hart, or continue onwards to discover the seafood-lover’s paradise that is Rick Stein’s riverside restaurant – a great spot for a romantic dinner. Head right at the station and you’ll find yourself at Barnes Green which is flanked by charming cafes and the OSO Arts Centre, where you can catch a theatrical performance to put the cherry on an idyllic day out with your loved one.
Enjoy an amble around Battersea Park, visit the boating lake and take out a pedalo or visit Putt in the Park for a spot of miniature golf. Make your way to Albert Bridge and take in the views of the bending river Thames. With the river on your left, walk along the embankment and enjoy the romantic views stretching to Chelsea across the water. Walk past the iconic pagoda and up until Chelsea Bridge. From here you can pass under the bridge and continue with the river on your left, until you reach the railway arches. It’s here that you’ll find a host of beautiful restaurants underneath the blackened arches and make sure you and your date pop in for a Denmark-style saltwater pizza from Mother, or tasty modern Indian dishes from the sleek Cinnamon Kitchen.
DENBIES WINE ESTATE
You don’t have to be in the Italian vineyards of Tuscany or the southern towns of Bordeaux for a uniquely romantic experience, why not take your love to Denbies Wine Estate? Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or not, a visit to this Surrey-based vineyard makes for something a little different. Join in in a wine tasting, roam around the stunning grounds, and learn all about the fine English wine makers. There is also a train that can take you on a tour of the vineyards, particularly romantic around sunset time. Alternatively, look out for one of the vineyard’s special events or live music sessions.
RICHMOND PARK WALK
Take your beau for a walk up Richmond Hill and into Richmond Park. Head to the top of Sawyer’s Hill for a dreamy view of the iconic London skyline and be sure to visit the Isabella Plantation. This tranquil little garden doesn’t exhibit its best flowering during February, but its paths are quieter which make for a pleasant and more intimate wander. Pack a picnic if the sun is shining.