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10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Wimbledon, England

Mention the name Wimbledon, and one thing in particular springs to mind: tennis. Although famous the world over for its international tennis tournament, Wimbledon itself is a pleasant destination to spend a few hours or more exploring - especially as it's just six miles south of the center of London and is easily accessible by public transit.

Other fun things to do include wandering Wimbledon's leafy streets, with their imposing homes and well-tended gardens; exploring its extensive green spaces, sports grounds, and paths; or spending time strolling through historic Wimbledon Village with its superb shopping.

1 The Championships: The World's Greatest Tennis Tournament

The Championships: The World's Greatest Tennis Tournament
The Championships: The World's Greatest Tennis Tournament
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The Wimbledon Tennis Championships is usually referred to simply as Wimbledon or The Championships. But you may be surprised to learn that the oldest and most famous tennis tournament in the world, with prize money exceeding £23 million, had surprisingly humble beginnings. The tournament originated in 1877, when organizers of the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) decided to raise money to purchase a much-needed lawn roller for their cricket pitch - money that came from the proceeds of a lawn tennis tournament.

Today, the roller stands in a place of honor, and their tournament - a two week-long affair that starts at the end of June - has grown into a highlight of the country's summer social and sporting calendars.

Location: The All England Lawn Tennis Club (Championships) Ltd, Church Road, Wimbledon, London

Official site: www.wimbledon.com

2 Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum

The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum features a multitude of exhibits and interactive displays about the sport. One of the highlights is the facility's Virtual Reality experience, a fabulous attraction that allows tourists to experience the thrill of being on center court. Other notable exhibits include a collection of championship trophies, film footage of past tournaments, a huge collection of related memorabilia dating all the way back to 1555, and a look at the history of racquet making. Also worth checking out is the fabulous Victorian Worple Road to the New Ground display, which showcases the club's humble changing room facilities as they would have appeared in the 1920s.

Address: The All England Lawn Tennis Club (Championships) Ltd, Church Road, Wimbledon, London

3 All England Lawn Tennis Club Tours

All England Lawn Tennis Club Tours
All England Lawn Tennis Club Tours
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A variety of excellent behind-the-scenes tours are available. Led by designated Blue Badge guides, tours last 1.5 hours and take visitors to many of the most important parts of the grounds, including Centre Court and No.1 Court, the Aorangi Terrace ("The Hill"), the Players' Entrance, and the normally out-of-bounds Media Centre. (Admission to the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum is included with your tour ticket.) To avoid disappointment, pre-book your tour using the online reservation system (you won't be charged until the day you arrive).

Address: The All England Lawn Tennis Club (Championships) Ltd, Church Road, Wimbledon, London

4 Wimbledon and Putney Commons

Wimbledon and Putney Commons
Wimbledon and Putney Commons George Rex
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Wimbledon and Putney Commons is a 1,100-acre green space and a pleasant place for a picnic or a stroll. Originally known as Caesar's Camp in recognition of its Roman past, the history of this large tract of land dates back even further to the Paleolithic Period. (The name "commons" stems from the fact the land was owned by the Lord of the Manor, whose tenants - known as commoners - were given rights to harvest timber and graze their animals.)

While you're there, be sure to visit the historic Wimbledon Windmill Museum, with its fascinating displays on milling, realistic working models, and great views over the common. Popular for walkers (check out the regular guided walking tours) and cyclists, the commons offers 16 miles of horse riding trails as well as a fine public golf course, The Wimbledon Common Golf Course.

And if you're visiting with children, tell them to keep an eye out for Wombles, fictional creatures noted for cleaning up after messy humans (and based upon a popular British TV show).

Address: The Ranger's Office, Manor Cottage, Windmill Rd, Wimbledon Common, London

Official site: www.wpcc.org.uk

5 Wimbledon Village

Although just six miles from the center of London, Wimbledon has managed to retain much of its small-town feel. This is never more apparent than when Wimbledon Village, the heart of the district, plays host to one of its many well-attended cultural events. From book festivals to fancy dress on horseback (courtesy of the district's riding stables), visitors fill Wimbledon's streets each weekend for a little fun, afterwards spending time enjoying its many boutique shops. If you're looking for fresh local produce and food fare, be sure to check out the always-popular Wimbledon farmers market, held each Saturday year-round.

6 Southside House

Southside House was built in 1687 for the Pennington family in the Dutch Baroque style. Of the many artifacts on display, the dressing case that belonged to Anne Boleyn prior to her execution is of particular interest. Other interior architectural highlights include the entrance hall, with its checkerboard floor; the staircase hall, with its ornate railings and wall decorations; and the main dining room, with its spectacular chandelier. The gardens of Southside House are a pleasant spot and are immaculately maintained. Guided tours are available, as are musical and other cultural activities.

Address: 3-4 Woodhayes Road, Wimbledon, London

Official site: www.southsidehouse.com

7 Wat Buddhapadipa Temple

Wat Buddhapadipa Temple
Wat Buddhapadipa Temple jo.sau
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Many first-time visitors to Wimbledon are surprised to learn that it's home to an authentic Buddhist monastery. Set on four acres of land, the charming Thai-inspired Wat Buddhapadipa Temple - the first of its kind to be built in Britain - is a delight to explore. Highlights of the grounds are a lovely ornamental lake and flower garden, as well as a pasture and orchard. Of its buildings, the most popular for photo-ops and selfies is the Shrine Hall (Uposatha), a sacred site used for important ceremonies and notable for its murals depicting the life of Buddha, along with its exquisite gold-leafed, carved teak timbers and ornate glass.

Address: 14 Calonne Road, Wimbledon, London

8 The Kenneth Ritchie Wimbledon Library

A not-to-be-missed part of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum - particularly for diehard fans of the sport - the Kenneth Ritchie Wimbledon Library is an excellent resource for those interested in the history of tennis. The library boasts an exhaustive collection of both British and foreign tennis books, magazines, programs, and newspaper clippings, as well as videos and DVDs (viewing facilities are available). A full catalogue of the library's vast collection is available from the Wimbledon Museum Shop.

Location: The All England Lawn Tennis Club (Championships) Ltd, Church Road, Wimbledon, London

9 Polka Theatre

In addition to its numerous kid-friendly plays, Polka Theatre boasts a café and playground as well as fun exhibits of toys, props, costumes, sets, and puppets. Plays range from wacky and fun to slightly more serious for the teen crowd, and drama workshops are frequently held. Established in 1979, the theater has grown so popular that each year some 90,000 children pass through its doors.

Address: 240 The Broadway, Wimbledon, London

Official site: www.polkatheatre.com

10 Wimbledon Museum of Local History

Although only open Saturday afternoons, the Wimbledon Society Museum of Local History is well worth a visit for those with an interest in the district's colorful past. Located in the former Victorian-era Village Hall (the building itself dates back to 1858), the museum was established in 1916 and displays a number of watercolor paintings by local artists, historic prints and maps, a sizable library, and numerous photos. Also on display are a selection of archaeological and natural history artifacts dating back some 3,000 years, as well as rotating exhibits of historic items from the museum's archives.

Address: 22 Ridgway, Wimbledon, London

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