Looking for a day out with a difference in London? Try one of these.
Ferry between historic houses
Hammertons Ferry shuttles between the banks of the Thames, linking the historic Ham House and Marble Hill House. 17th century Ham House lays on a plethora of tours (including the Person and Portrait tour, Behind the scenes Tour and So to Bed tour). Its gated gardens are good for a stroll year-round. Finish off with a hot chocolate at the Orangery cafe. Marble Hill House was originally built for King George II's mistress, Henrietta Howard. A portrait of her hangs in the house, as part of a collection of early Georgian paintings. It's perhaps less impressive than Ham House, but don't sniff at an excuse to get on a boat.
Neasden Temple followed by brilliant cuisine
In Neasden lies one of the UK's largest Gujarati communities, so it makes sense that it's home to one of the largest Hindu Temples outside of India. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir — or Neasden Temple if you were struggling with that — invites people to visit through the week, and to attend colourful Hindu ceremonies where you 'meet' various gods. Next use the trusty fare hopper to get on the 112 followed by the 207 and scoot on over to Southall. There you'll see a different side of India in London as it's home to a large Punjabi community. Go to The Broadway and scour the shops for mountains of golden bling and sarees. On Wednesdays, Friday and Saturday, Southall Market tops up the wares, selling fruit and veg, electricals and bric-a-brac. Now it's time for a curry. If you're willing to splash out a little we'd recommend the aptly named Brilliant.
A whale of a time
Venture to Chadwell Heath and you'll notice the area is brimming with whales. Whalebone Lane, Whalebone Grove, the Moby Dick pub... even a Moby Dick golf course. The reason for the whale infatuation lies in a whale that washed up in the Thames in 1658. A few years later its jaw bones were used to form an arch for a tollhouse on Chadwell Heath Road. The bones now reside in the local Valence House Museum, in the Whalebone Gallery. Try and tick as many whale related activities off the list in one day.
Walk or cycle the Wandle Trail
The Wandle Trail [pdf] follows the winding path of the River Wandle from Croydon to the Thames at Wandsworth. Along the way, you'll encounter a few of the surviving mills that once inundated the area. But most of the route now takes you through verdant landscape, such as Poulter Park and Morden Hall Park. Spots like Wandsworth Museum and Merton Abbey Mills (now an arts and craft centre) add a dash of culture. You can either cycle or walk, but seeing as its 14 miles long, we suggest getting hold of a set of wheels.
The Line Sculptural Walk
Another walk, this one in east London. Did you know about the arts trail that connects the River Lea to North Greenwich and the Royal Docks? Not only that, but along The Line there are a dozen or so sculptures by household names such as Anthony Gormley and Damien Hirst. It also includes a cable car and DLR trip, adding transport geekery to your day out.
Discover more long walks here.
Swimming and a bunker
Not all days out have to be themed. You can just as easily tick off things that are close to each other. Like in Uxbridge, where you can do Hillingdon Lido and the Battle of Britain Bunker in one fell swoop. The lido has been painstakingly resurrected to all its 1930s glory, so you can splash about in glorious art deco surroundings. Once you've dried off, the bunker takes you back to the heart of the war, with operations desks frozen in time, cans of powdered egg and dresses cut from parachute silk. We're sure the bunker's volunteers will be understanding about you turning up in your swimming gear.
What's your favourite underrated day trip? Tell us in the comments.