No question, London attracts huge numbers of visitors from the United States; the majority of them obviously eager to seek out the unique and sometimes eccentric, always loveable culture of the UK. But let’s not kid ourselves, Americans too are very proud – rightly so – of their own country and its identity, so why wouldn’t they want to check-out one or two of the capital’s attractions that celebrate Americana? Here are eight of the best…
Make a beeline for Benjamin Franklin House
Pre-booking’s recommended for this museum to be found in the terraced house that used to be the Founding Father’s home when he lived in London from 1757-75. What makes it such a worthwhile visit is that the different parts of the Grade I Listed property are dedicated to areas of interest that Franklin is rightly associated with, namely science and study as well as diplomacy and politics. An architectural tour runs on Monday afternoons and a ‘historical experience’ on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and at weekends.
Stock up at The American Food Store
Are you an enthusiast of US cuisine and a fan of fantastic American foodstuffs? If so, the American Food Store in the vicinity of Ladbroke Grove is a must-visit for you. Aunt Jemima Pancake and Waffle mix,Lucky Charms and all those other delightful treats are readily available at this place; it’s not enormously unlike walking into a grocery store in Albuquerque, New Mexico or Albany, NewYork and picking up your favourite titbits at this most popular of American London attractions.
Send a postcard home with a US stamp
Fancy a pint? Why wouldn’t you? If you’re enjoying a break in London (especially if staying relatively nearby at, say, the Montcalm London City at The Brewery Hotel) you may be tempted to indulge in one of the UK’s favourite pastimes of having a tipple at the Mayflower Inn in Bermondsey’s Rotherhithe Street. Why here, in particular? Well, because not only can you enjoy a lovely real ale here, you can also buy a genuine US stamp – one of the few (and surely one of the most novel) places in Britain you can do so.
The reason for this is because the place was originally a 16th Century watering hole where, legend has it, captain of The Mayflower ship Christopher Jones enjoyed a drink before he departed for American shores with the Pilgrim Fathers. Hardly surprising, actually, given that it was from the wharf right outside the building that the ship started its journey, making this pub something of a strong emotional link between the UK and the US.
Speed your way to the American Car Centre
Don’t doubt it; this outlet’s showroom is a real showcase for new and used cars from the good old’ US of A, making the Fulham enterprise (very near Parsons Green Tube station) a highlight for vehicular enthusiasts. Boasting beautiful motors including the likes of Chevrolets and Corvettes;Lincolns and Mustangs. Moreover, there’s also a section dedicated to those bulky, brilliant American trucks and SUVs.
Buy some shrimp from Bubba Gump
Life may be like a box of chocolates, but it’s shrimp (or, as we’re in Britain here, prawns) that you might consider purchasing – to make you feel all warm and fuzzy and American – inside when you take a look around the Bubba Gump shop (inspired by the eponymous hero’s fishing company in the 1994 US blockbuster film Forrest Gump) in the Trocadero entertainment complex of Piccadilly Circus.
Pay your respects to JFK
Thanks to the legendary appeal of John F Kennedy, the tragedy of his assassination over 50 years ago wasn’t confined to the United States alone; it was felt the world over – not least in the UK. As such, there are two memorials in London commemorating his life and Presidency. The first is a bust by the sculptor Jacques Lipchitz, which was unveiled by his brother Robert F Kennedy in 1965. The second’s garden-oriented and located on banks of the River Thames in Runnymede. It was designed by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe and officially opened by HM Queen in 1965 as well(and in the presence of JFK’s Jackie Kennedy). Visitors tend to find it a highly respectful, beautiful and tranquil place of contemplation.
Make your way to the American Memorial Chapel
Finally, for those interested in US history, there’s a double reason to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral. In addition to popping into this Restoration era landmark of London, famed for its incredible cultural importance to the UK capital, there’s also particular significance for those from the US to step inside as it houses the American Memorial Chapel, which commemorates the thousands of soldiers from the States whom sacrificed their lives(alongside British and other Allied troops) in the Second World War. Be moved, mourn their loss and soak up the comforting resonance of arms reaching across the Atlantic – and from evocative times past.