Known for its gardens, theaters and galleries, this lush suburban town has been a popular royal retreat for centuries.
Richmond is one of London’s loveliest boroughs and is home to historic houses, compelling museums and unique shops. Wander down its cobbled streets, sip a pint while watching the sun set or take a relaxing cruise down the River Thames.
Be sure to visit Kew Gardens, a beautiful public park that has earned UNESCO World Heritage status for its extensive botanical collection. Take a look at the impressive 10-story pagoda and walk along the 59-foot (18-meter) high Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop Walkway. Admire the unique architecture of Palm House, which houses examples of most known palm species.
On the grounds of Kew Gardens, you’ll also find Kew Palace. This pretty red-brick residence is the smallest royal residence in the country. Take a look inside recreated Georgian rooms and discover the palace’s dark history as a retreat for the “mad” King George III.
Explore the beautiful neoclassical rooms of Syon House, which sits across the Thames from the Royal Botanic Gardens. The house has been the site of numerous noteworthy historical events over the years. It was where Henry VII's fifth wife Catherine Howard awaited her execution and where Lady Jane Grey ascended the throne in 1553. Admire the silk walls and Roman statues of the Red Drawing Room, as well as the pastel pinks and purples that color the ladies’ gallery.
Take the kids to Syon Park, which spreads across 200 acres (80 hectares) around the house. Designed by lauded landscape architect Capability Brown, the park includes a trout fishery, an adventure playground and other kid-friendly attractions. Check out the Great Conservatory, an impressive iron-and-glass dome constructed in 1820.
Go wildlife watching in Richmond Park, where more than 600 red and fallow deer roam freely within its 2,360 acres (955 hectares). The park encompasses Pembroke Lodge, which was once the childhood home of philosopher Bertrand Russell and has since been converted into a café. Don’t miss the views of St. Paul’s Cathedral from the park’s highest point, King Henry's Mound.
Travel by tube or train to Richmond. From April to October, the borough is also serviced by a river bus.