When it comes down to it, the United Kingdom and the United States share many cultural associations – the latter being founded as a nation by migrants from the former way back in the 17th Century, chief among them, of course. To that end, whether a visitor to the UK capital is actually from the States or not, they may well fancy taking the time to seek out, walk around and discover one or two of the city’s American-centric attractions. Intrigued? Then read on…
Go to the boast-worthy Benjamin Franklin House
(36 Craven Street WC2N 5NF)
One of the famed Founding Fathers, Franklin lived in this very terraced house during his years spent in London (1757-75). But why specifically take the trouble to step inside instead of just passing it on the street? Well, this Grade I-listed property has been preserved for posterity in such a way that it’s split into sections dedicated to its one-time occupant’s interests – science, diplomacy and politics. Tours run every day apart from Tuesdays.
Surprise the folks back home with a postcard – with a US stamp
(117 Rotherhithe Street SE16 4NF)
Granted, if for your visit to London, you’re staying in a hotel in the West End/ Hyde Park area (which would be a fine idea given the hundreds of attractions in the area), then it may seem a bit of a schlep to drag yourself across town for a traditional English tipple at the Mayflower Inn in Bermondsey on the banks of the Thames.
So why should you? Two reasons. Here you can sample a real ale in a genuine ‘Olde England’ watering hole, but also – should you be visiting from the US – you can wow the folks back home by sending them a postcard with a real American stamp on it; as, a little randomly, it’s from here you can buy one in London. Why on earth might that be, you may ask? Well, apparently the captain of The Mayflower ship regularly frequented the original inn that stood on this site, before he crossed the pond with the Pilgrim Fathers, of course. Indeed, the ship itself started its journey from the wharf next door to this very pub. So, that’s three reasons to visit it then – even if you’re staying away to the west of the city at the Marble Arch London by Montcalm hotel.
Shop at The American Food Store
(2 Ladbroke Grove W11 3BG)
Let’s be honest, it doesn’t really matter where you’re from; millions of people all over the globe have a big soft spot for US cuisine. Be it pancake and waffle mixes or Lucky Charms cereals, this haven for all American eatable things is an essential must-visit for those after their pseudo-Stateside food fix. It’s just like walking into a grocery store in Albuquerque, New Mexico or Albany, New York. Sort of.
Mark JFK’s memory
(Marylebone Road NW1/ Englefield Green, Egham, Surrey TW20 0NP)
One of the United States’ most beloved and iconic Presidents – the whole world over – John F Kennedy may have occupied the White House for little more than two-and-a-half years, but his handsome, youthful appeal, commitment to tackling social injustice and tragic assassination in November 1963 ensured he would be forever one of his nation’s most legendary leaders. One of the countries outside of North America where he touched a particular nerve was the UK and, as such, there are two moving and fine memorials to be found in London that commemorate his life and achievements. First is sculptor Jacques Lipchitz’s bust in Marylebone (unveiled by JFK’s brother Robert F Kennedy, in fact, in 1965) and, second, visit the quiet village of Runnymede on the banks of the Thames for a tranquil, contemplative garden area opened by her HM The Queen in the same year, in the presence of JFK’s widow, Jackie Kennedy.
Buy prawn like a king at Bubba Gump
(13 Coventry Street W1D 7AB)
Piccadilly Circus’s Trocadero entertainment complex is full of many a weird and wonderful attraction, for sure, but its biggest draw for Americanophiles has to be the shrimp-packed Bubba Gump store that it leads into – which can also be entered via Coventry Street. Inspired by is its counterpart in, yes, NYC’s Times Square, it stocks fuzzy feeling-inducing paraphernalia associated with the classic Tom Hanks comedy drama blockbuster movie Forrest Gump, released back in 1994. Sure, it may not entirely convince you life’s like a box of chocolates, but it’ll doubtless plaster a warm, whimsical grin right across your face.