While it might be in the running for the highest concentration of toddlers in the capital, there are still plenty of grown-up things to do in Crystal Palace as well. If you're on the hunt for bars instead of babyccinos, this South London neighbourhood is packed with places serving up creative cocktails and craft beers, alongside swish restaurants and summer music festivals. But make sure you're not knocking the family-friendly days out, because SE19 fronts some incredible historical sights you'd be a fool to miss. Read on to find out more in our local guide to Crystal Palace.
Meet The Crystal Palace Park Dinosaurs
The obvious place to start in the area is the iconic park. The final resting place of the 1851 Great Exhibition building, the expansive green space boasts an urban farm, the National Sports Centre, a boating lake and a 160-foot hedge maze. Most unique of all are the artefacts leftover from the original Crystal Palace; on top of Italian terraces and giant sphynxes you'll get the chance to see one of the marvels of Victorian London - a set of wild-eyed Jurassic sculptures known as The Dinosaur Court.
Grab A Pint In The Faber Fox
While there are many great Crystal Palace pubs to choose from, our favourite has to be this Westow Hill beauty. A fun and relaxed spot just five minutes from the park, The Faber Fox fronts colourful interiors and friendly staff. Head down on a warm afternoon for cold pints in their bustling beer garden, or make it a cosy one with a Sunday roast and bottle of wine. And if you're on the hunt for something a little more raucous, their bottomless brunch offers your choice of fizz, spritz, bloody mary or bellini.
Find Treasures In The Antiques Shops
A hidden gem when it comes to antique shops in London, SE19 has an array of stores and warehouses stocking everything from clothing and quirky trinkets to homewares and art. Located in and around the Crystal Palace Triangle, these outlets have something for every interior design budget; explore the four-floor treasure trove that is Crystal Palace Antiques for vintage rugs and ornaments, or lust after Mid-Century furniture and stylish light fixtures at Designs Of Modernity and Do South.
Buy Local At Crystal Palace Food Market
Having run for almost a decade, the Crystal Palace Food Market holds a key place in the heart of the community. Head over to Haynes Lane every Saturday and you'll find a wealth of fruit and veg traders, sweet treats and street food vendors from around the area. One of the most unique things about this weekly market is that most of the produce is grown locally too, with goods dug up from neighbouring allotments, private gardens and four public patches found around the Triangle.
Party In The Crystal Palace Bowl
Another curiosity in Crystal Palace Park's collection is this lakeside stage. Lovingly dubbed, 'the rusty laptop', the Crystal Palace Bowl was built in the 60s and has played host to the likes of Bob Marley, Elton John, Gil Scott Heron and The Cure. Largely out of action for the past decade, it's set to make a huge comeback for summer 2021 as South Facing Festival puts big names back on the boards with a month of live concerts, including sets from The Streets, Dizzee Rascal and Supergrass.
Eat At Joanna's
While there are loads of great Crystal Palace restaurants to discover, Joanna's is a real must-visit if you're looking to dine locally. First opened in 1978, the Westow Hill eatery was one of the first in South East London to make a trade in American steaks, grills and burgers. In 43 years it's changed quite a bit, doubling in size and bringing more British and international influences to its menu. Nevertheless, it's still the same beloved neighbourhood spot, and a stalwart for any and all occasions.
Learn Something New At The Crystal Palace Museum
While we'd hope this article has taught you a little something or two about this South London enclave, if you're looking for a deep-dive into the history of Crystal Palace then you're in luck. Started as a passion project by local campaigners, Crystal Palace Museum has become an expansive exhibition about the glass building that gave the area its name, from its construction and popularity throughout the Victorian era to its eventual fiery demise.
Sample Cool Sips At Cocktail Embassy
While park walks and cosy pubs are usually the order of the day around here, SE19 is no stranger to something a little stronger. One of the best bars in Crystal Palace, Westow Hill spot Cocktail Embassy offers a broad range of creative concoctions and some slick surroundings to enjoy them in. Swap pints with pals for happy hour with the homies and score two-for-one deals on their most popular tipples every night of the week.
Get Crafty At The Gipsy Hill Brewery Taproom
The HQ of Gipsy Hill Brewing Company, this hub of perfectly-poured pints and cool events offers some of the best things to do in Crystal Palace. In the past, the sprawling warehouse space has been the site of ceilidhs, banquets, giant ping pong evenings and murder mystery affairs, all the while serving some of the best craft beer in South London. If you're looking for something more relaxed though? A tour around their brewhouse followed by a few drinks in the taproom should more than suffice.
Looking for more London area guides? Check out our top picks for things to do in Walthamstow here.