london road trips
In collaboration with the wonderful crew at Carspring, I am sharing one of my proudest ever guides with you today: The Best Short Road Trips for Londoners – by area – meaning local road trips should take you no longer than one hour from door to door!

The thing I love about all of these trips is their individual versatility and the fact that – though TFL has amazing links across London – none of these destinations are an easy reach by public transport. They all provide a perfect excuse to grab some loved ones and hit the road!

North London Road Trip

Alexandra Palace to Lee Valley National Park and Paradise Wildlife Park (40 minutes)
This road trip begins at one of favourite viewpoints of The City of London – Ally Pally. Sunrise is especially beautiful (as it is on the highest point of a hill) and provides almost completely traffic-free access to Lee Valley National Park and Paradise Wildlife Park. You could do either – or both! – and get back to nature in less than forty minutes. The former is perfect for long walks but the latter is wonderful for families.

West London Road Trip

Pergola on The Roof to The Harry Potter Studio Tour (40 minutes)
This is probably the road trip best catered to my personal taste; that of food, views and Harry Potter. To begin, you can visit White City’s hipster-friendly pop-up parking lot ‘Pergola’ for lunch with some of London’s best street food vendors (expert tip: you can’t go wrong with Patty & Bun) and move on to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (also known as the WB Studio Tour) in less than one hour! Book in advance to make the most of broom rides, special events, Butterbeers, and more.

East London Road Trip

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to Hylands House (40 minutes)
This is a great option for those in East London who want to escape the associated “scene”. Beginning with a power walk/Instagram sesh around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (the beloved host of the 2012 Olympic Games), you can then take off for the tubeless serenity of Hylands House; a gorgeous country estate that will make you feel like an extra in Downtown Abbey.

South London Road Trip

Richmond Park to Mayfield Lavender Fields (30 minutes)
Last but certainly not least, South London provides us with the shortest and most photo-friendly road trips around. In Richmond Park, you not only have a protected and completely undisturbed telescopic view of London but beautiful landscapes filled with baby deer! If that wasn’t enough, you have the Mayfield Lavender Fields just thirty minutes away – and they’re currently in full bloom! Don’t forget to charge your camera/cameraphone!

Enjoy your journeys, mi amor.

london map

new york central park
The final stop on our US road trip? My heart and soul, New York City. There is no greater excitement than getting the opportunity to introduce something you love to someone you love, is there?

After a mini medical emergency we, undesirably, hit the city in rush hour and therefore returned our rental car at the speed of light. A quick taxi to the Uptown border of Central Park let us get settled into our fifth-floor walkup (the secret to the bodies of the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. cast, obvs) and freshen up before a nightly stroll through Harlem. As you do. (Disclaimer: the FOOOOOOD.)

Waking up the following morning, we decided to get our tourist on and visit the Empire State Building. I have never been too fussed to visit – always preferring to explore a city rather than explore a city’s queues – but an early wake-up call and two free tickets fated a visit. Truth be told, it was spectacular. Getting there when it opens gives you virtually no waiting time as well as plenty of room to move around at the top deck and take Manhattan in from every angle.

Taking a few wrong turns on our way to lunch led us to the happiest of accidents: Energy Kitchen. Heads up, London franchisers, this ridiculously healthy chain has an excellent menu of 500-calorie-or-less meals and treats which, in its simplicity, has a consistent stream of dedicated, fit customers. A fast food revelation in the city of cronuts and ramen burgers (and, if you’re single, a hotspot of babes and manbabes).

Spending the rest of the day on a shopping-slash-walking tour of the island, we rested our punished bodies with an evening at Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. It may not be the most Broadwaaaaay of Broadway shows, but my nerdy inner fangirl loved every minute. Reeve Carney and co. bring the (slightly altered) story to life with flumes of talent and some of the most interesting art direction in theatre this millenium.

Morning two? Back to hidden food gems in Harlem to taste my first ever Chicken and Waffles. In my opinion, if you’re going to try a new food you might as well go for the option that The Food Network holds in highest regards. Melba’s Southern Fried Chicken and Eggnog Waffles is that dish. Though the restaurant itself is small, the atmosphere is friendly – celebratory almost – and the food is intensely delicious. Somehow, soaking her chicken in mustard and buttermilk gives Melba the edge on virtually any piece of poultry I have tasted. Mouth-melting goodness, I tell you.

As expected, Alex (who made the daring choice to order an even-heavier Smothered Chicken with Waffles) and I were in a food coma. Wanting to take it easy before an adrenaline-pumping evening in New Jersey, we opted to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the Museum of Natural History at a snails pace and find as many hidden spots to canoodle in Central Park as we possibly could. Whether you live in the city or are planning your first visit, I cannot recommend wedding-watching in Central Park highly enough. As the most beautiful nature spot in a relatively non-green city, the weekend draws brides and wedding photographers to the Park in force. It is like watching a live action wedding blog.

For a complete change of pace in the evening, we PATHed it to Newark to watch the New York Red Bulls destroy DC United. In comparison to football (British), US soccer has an atmosphere of pantomime – even with big guns like Tim Cahill and Thierry Henry on the field. Though, strangely, it was much more of a production than I expected from my favourite sport, the fan camaraderie and ability to buy Red Bull cheaper than water made for a hilarious evening.

The following morning we cured our football hangover with brunch at The 5 and Diamond (bourbon fried chicken and waffles with banana habanero syrup, natch) and went back to pack our US road trip memories away before night-flighting back to London.

Viva America.

new york red bulls
new york times square
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free spotify road trip playlist
It’s about time I threw another free Spotify playlist your way and it is also, conveniently, about time for me to go on my first road trip since I was a teenager.

Though this weekend’s trip is a little more EuroTrip than cornfields and 500-lane highways, my road trip playlist mantra doesn’t ever change based on destination; pepper the smooth roadie grooves with some offensive rap and tie things up with some old school Girl Talk.

It’s the recipe for musical success. Trust me.

Click here to listen!

(Download Spotify here. It’s free! )