Hotels in London, Canada
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London, Ontario: The Forest City
Like its namesake across the pond, London, Ontario grew up around a river, and has preserved much of its naturally beautiful setting in the form of city parks. Over two hundred green spaces are nestled within the province’s third largest city, which also offers a wide array of museums, music venues, and art galleries. Its mouth-watering farmer’s market is a must-stop in any season, and thirsty travellers will find themselves spoiled for choice in bars, breweries, and coffee shops. Hotels in London range from chic guest houses inside historic properties to glittering conference centres and highway motels.
A walk in the park…
Springbank Park, the city’s largest, is one of the finest urban parks in Canada. Its 300 acres feature something for just about everyone, from scenic trails and picnic spots along the Thames River to a skateboard park and Springbank Gardens, a popular concert and wedding venue set among beautiful formal gardens. Springbank Park is also home to Storybook Gardens, an enchanting amusement park for young families with rides, attractions, and imaginative play areas inspired by nursery rhymes and fairy tales. Travellers in town for one of the city’s many festivals may find themselves in Victoria Park, a leafy oasis in the heart of London’s downtown core, or else at the Forks of the Thames. This stretch of urban parkland at the westernmost tip of downtown offers a series of formal gardens, an interactive fountain, and a riverfront promenade. The grounds are within steps of several handsome and historic properties as well as the city’s chief sports/entertainment complex, Budweiser Gardens.
Fine arts and festivities…
London’s diverse arts and culture scene includes Call the Office, a buzzy dive and erstwhile punk rock hotbed, as well as The Grand Theatre, Canada’s oldest and longest running live professional theatre (which also happens to be one of the country’s most beautiful.) Young theatregoers may also enjoy performances by London’s Original Kids Theatre Company, while music lovers are treated to a wide range of festivals. The Home County Folk Festival, Rock the Park, and Sunfest, the second largest world music festival in Canada, are all held in July, which is the height of summer in Ontario; hotels in the area are best booked well in advance. Travellers who love art, however, will find plenty of eye candy in any season. Established in 1940, Museum London is home to a significant collection of Canadian art, as well as over 45,000 artefacts related to the city’s history. And the Jonathon Bancroft-Snell Gallery is a must-see for travellers who collect pottery; the gallery showcases over 125 of Canada’s finest ceramic artists.
Travel back in time on a dime…
Travellers on a budget will be delighted to discover that London offers a wide variety of intriguing museums, all of which offer free (or very modestly priced) admission. The Banting House National Historic Site of Canada celebrates the life and career of Sir Frederick Grant Banting, who discovered insulin. Eldon House, home to four generations of the Harris family, is also well worth a visit; London's oldest residence is filled with priceless 19th century furnishings and heirlooms, and is surrounded by one of the most beautiful gardens in the city. London also offers not one but two fine institutions devoted to Canadian military history: The Secrets of Radar Museum and The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum. And travellers who are fascinated by the distant past can make tracks for the Fanshawe Pioneer Village or else The Museum of Ontario Archaeology, which is located on the site of the only ongoing prehistoric village excavation and restoration in Canada.
Eat, drink, and be merry…
No trip to London is quite complete without a stop at the historic Covent Garden Market, which was established in the heart of the city in 1845. Inside, hungry shoppers will find a tempting array of stalls selling gourmet produce and fresh flowers, along with delis, bakeries, ethnic eateries, and shops. In the warmer months, Covent Garden Market also offers an outdoor farmer’s market with a sunny patio which becomes a gleaming ice rink come winter. Thirsty travellers know that London is also well known for its breweries, many of which offer guided tours. Easily the largest, oldest, and internationally famous of these is Labatt, a national brand which grew up and out from a modest brewhouse on Simcoe Street in 1847. Guided tours of this bustling facility take about two hours, and end with samples of the many varieties brewed there. Drinkers who prefer craft brew are similarly spoiled when in London: Toboggan, Forked River, and Anderson also offer tours, tastings, and well stocked shopfronts.
Price rangefrom NZ$43to NZ$415
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