West London a bit of a mystery to you? We sort the wheat from the chaff.
Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising
Step inside a time warp that spits you out into the past; we're talking about the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising in Notting Hill. Here, every adult rediscovers their childhood through sweet wrappers and toy boxes (and kids see how things used to be for oldies). It's got over 14,000 items on display, some dating back to the Victorian era. Almost everything's changed or vanished, although there are some exceptions — Lyle Golden Syrup, for example.
Ruislip Lido Railway
Woody Bay. Willow Lawn. Haste Hill: what do these things all have in common? They're the three stations served by the Ruislip Lido Railway. This is more than just a trip for fans of railways though — the line leads you down to a sandy beach that's perfect for a game or two of volleyball. You can swim with the swans, too.
Swim in a grade II listed lido
Talking of swimming, the Hillingdon Sports & Leisure Complex lido — or as it's more commonly referred to Hillingdon of Uxbridge lido — is one of the finest outdoor swimming spots in London. The pool dates back to the 1930s, with glorious cascades at each end, and an art deco pavilion. The pool was restored in 2010, so it's in tip-top shape for anyone wanting a dip. And if the weather's shoddy, there's an indoor pool.
Heath Robinson Museum
Hidden away in a western nook of London (Pinner to be exact) is the Heath Robinson Museum. It's dedicated to the work of one Britain's great cartoonists — remembered best for his zany contraptions and world war satire. It's a welcome change to go to a museum and leave with a huge grin. Pretty Pinner Village makes a nice spot for lunch afterwards (we suggest a pie at the Queen's Head).
Museum of Water and Steam
Looking for a pumping station converted into a museum about water and steam? We have you covered. London Museum of Water and Steam is filled with massive beam engines, pipes and pumps, perfect for any die-hard engineering fan (or anyone who fancies a steamy afternoon). Next door's Musical Museum — a functioning shrine to bizarre, self-playing instruments — also holds silent film screening, accompanied by a Wurlitzer organ which shoots out of the ground.
Get a curry in Southall
One of the UK's largest Punjabi communities is in Southall and — amid the stalls and shops selling everything from saris to jelabis (sticky batter sweets) — are some of the best spots for an authentic curry. If you're willing to splash out a little we'd recommend the aptly named Brilliant. It's an institution in the area, open for over 40 years; and it's slightly different from your usual curry house because of the owners' Kenyan roots. Our article on where to eat regional Indian food has plenty more Southall options.
Visit Brunel's Three Bridges
Isambard Kingdom Brunel's last major undertaking (completed just before he died, in fact) were the Three Bridges. It's an ingenious design: a road (Windmill Lane), on top of a canal (Grand Junction Canal), on top of a railroad (Great Western and Brentford Railway). Thousands drive over this every day unaware they're making use of a piece of engineering brilliance. Pause for a second and salute the great top-hatted one.
Trampolining in Acton
We visited the fantastic Oxygen Freejumping centre in Acton a while back (see video below). For hijinks and exercise it's hard to beat. Bounce to it. If you're looking for a day out in Acton, tie it in with a visit to the London Transport Museum Depot. It only opens a few times a year, but it's a must-see sequel to Covent Garden's museum.
Take a tour of a magnificent cemetery
Two of the Victorian 'Magnificent Seven' cemeteries are in west London: Kensal Green Cemetery and Brompton Cemetery. They both offer tours on Sundays — which'll teach you about their fascinating residents and beautiful (if sometimes crumbling) monuments.
Relax in Kyoto Gardens (then play giant chess)
Looking for some inner tranquility? Spend half an hour taking in the beauty of Kyoto Gardens in Holland Park. You'll probably spot a peacock plodding about. More gentle entertainment can be found at the nearby giant chess set.
There's no dearth of historic houses in west London (Syon House, Osterley Park, Ham House and Boston Manor to name but a few). Yet while the home of 18th century satirist William Hogarth is pint-sized, it's crammed with his dastardly funny works — and means you can spend some time picking out all the delicious details. Once you've done ogling Gin Lane and Beer Street, go for a session at the Fuller's Brewery across the way.
Get into bed and watch a film
This entry doesn't just refer to readers who live in west London (though if you like to watch movies in your bed at home we don't blame you). Instead we're talking about The Electric Cinema in Notting Hill, which has beds you can rent while you watch the latest films, all snuggled up. Perfect for hiding under the duvet if it's a horror flick.
Galavant through Ealing Common
West London has lots of vast green spaces that make you forget you're in a busy and bustling capital city, and Ealing Common is as good as any of them. It's spacious too, 47 acres large — which should be enough no matter how big the picnic you're planning is. Run about, pretending you're in the middle of the countryside before catching the tube back to your flat above a Chick King.