For those planning a short-break in London, whether they’re travelling to the UK capital from abroad or elsewhere in the country, the idea of having a day away from the city may not occur to them. Fair enough. London’s an extraordinary metropolis that’s perfectly suited to catering to every whim and desire of a visitor, crammed full as it is, of course, with a multitude of different sights and sounds for all the family.
However, it’d be foolish to assume that all South East England has to offer is the nation’s capital city; it’s an attraction-packed region, full of beautiful countryside, charming and charismatic rural towns and a plethora of varied things to see and do. Indeed, if when visiting London, you fancy getting out of the urban maelstrom and take a day-trip into the country nearby, then here are four ideas you may just want to consider…
(Portsmouth Road, Esher, Surrey KT10 9AJ)
Don’t doubt it, outstanding horseracing is what this, one of the finest racecourses just outside the capital, is all about. Founded way back in 1875, nowadays it plays host to races on afternoons, evenings and at weekends (there’s at least three events coming up in December), as well as several non-racing events including car shows, auctions and concerts for of artists such as Girls Aloud, Spandau Ballet and Simply Red. The course also offers full hospitality packages should you fancy properly spoiling yourself on a day out of the capital.
Daytona Sandown Park
(More Lane, Esher, Surrey KT10 8AN)
Just down the road from its more famous namesake, you’ll find this racecourse of another kind, in that it’s thoroughly aimed at those who enjoy moving at speed on four wheels rather than four legs. One of the finest and most popular go-kart tracks in the country, it offers a great time for people of all ages and all karting pedigrees – whether a beginner, an intermediate or a seasoned speedster who loves taking on hairpin bends and sprinting to the chequered flag finish. Geared to cater for the whole family, its kids’ parties come especially highly recommended, thus it’s an ideal day out for young and old, wherever they might be staying – in the centre of London (at, say, the Marble Arch London hotel) or anywhere else.
(Portsmouth Road, Cobham, Surrey KT11 1JE)
A strikingly charismatic 18th-Century landscaped garden, Painshill is a vast, beautiful 158-acre green space that boasts an array of fascinating wildlife, a diverse vineyard, a delightful crystal grotto, a charming restored waterwheel, a gothic temple and tower and even a beautiful ruined abbey. It’s worth doing your research though because, should you be staying in the centre of the capital, making use of London hotels special offers, you may fancy complementing them with one of the various discount deals this attraction offers for families, adult groups and visitors with mobility-issues.
(Brooklands Road, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 0QN)
Located where the first motor racing circuit anywhere in the world was built, this museum is dedicated not just to the track’s illustrious history (it closed in 1939), but also to the cars, motorcycles and even bicycles that graced it and were the vehicular highlights of its heyday. To wit, the museum always has a vast array of one-wheel and two-wheel exhibits on display at any one time, as well as an unrivalled collection of aircraft including the World War Two-era aeroplanes that are the Vanguard, the Varsity, the Viking, the VC-10 and the Wellington Bomber, as well as the one and only Concorde plane on public view in South East England.
Additionally, the museum plays host to a wide range of events like car club meetings, festivals and aviation events, while further attractions include a 4D Theatre that provides the opportunity to ‘drive’ around the Brooklands or France’s Le Mans racetracks or to ‘fly’ a Red Arrows jet. Speaking of which, there’s also a Red Arrows 3D simulation, enabling visitors to get a fantastic impression of what it’s like to be in the cockpit of one of the world-famous jets as they perform solo manoeuvres or perform in-formation routines. Finally, who could resist the chance to enjoy a virtual lap of the legendary Le Mans circuit with racing legend Mike Hawthorn in his Jaguar D-type – featuring actual in-car footage and commentary from the driver during a race-day back in 1956? Surely an experience no car racing nut could pass up!