Amazing street food, historic museum, art galleries, sprawling parks – there’s something for everyone in Croydon as you will discover with our guide to the best days out and activities in the area.
Activities in Croydon
Making something from nothing, Croydon Boxpark is an innovative collection of repurposed shipping containers now put together as a quirky and very entertaining food and retail park. Described as the ‘world’s first pop-up mall,’ the Boxpark was originally launched in Shoreditch in 2011 and was so successful the Croydon version was created five years later. There are over 130 concepts and brands involved in Croydon with the emphasis largely on food and drink outlets spanning everything from street food, breweries and ice cream, with virtually every cuisine under the sun on offer, plus over 200 events each year including beatboxing, guest DJs, live music and more. Handily, our Croydon Town Centre hotel is in the heart of the action, literally around the corner from the Boxpark, meaning you can nip out for breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight munchies whenever you want.
Croydon Box Park
Croydon might still be part of London’s urban sprawl, but there are still several parks and green spaces worth checking out, notably Wandle Park. Re-opened in 2012 after an extensive refurbishment, the four-hectare park is home to several gardens, a pond, skate park and several playgrounds as well as events through the year including open-air cinema, sports days and theatre.
A mile south of Croydon town centre is Oxygen Freejumping, home to over 100 trampolines and 14 play zones including dodgeball courts, a mega airbag and speed reaction games. Open daily until 9pm, it’s the perfect place for fitness fanatics and to burn off some energy, with dedicated sessions for kids, toddlers, families and free-jumping sessions.
Dating back to the 14th and 15th century, and with historical roots to the Saxon period, the Church of England Croydon Minster underwent extensive renovation in the 19th century and is an impressive church known for its music. The Minster has four choirs and over 90 singers, a ring of 12 bells and a 4-manual organ built by noted organ-builder William Hill.
Museum of Croydon
Housed in the Croydon Clocktower in the heart of the town centre, the Museum of Croydon documents the history of the region since the 1800s. Running in chronological order, you can either start the tour at the Now or Then door, and work your way backwards or forwards through time, a neat touch that works well. The museum also includes a collection of Roman and Anglo-Saxon artefacts, Chinese ceramics and local exhibits relating to Crystal Palace, 19th-century composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and even the local IKEA and the items it first sold when it opened.A word to the wise, Bodenham Arboretum is not free, and the price of tickets changes with the seasons of the year but at roughly a few pounds for adults it's worth it for a peaceful afternoon outdoors.
Opposite the Museum of Croydon is the Rise Gallery, a very cool alternative gallery that specialises in ‘contemporary, urban contemporary and post-war pop art.’ The gallery supports local and international artists, with plenty of exciting artwork to check out on the white-washed walls. The gallery regularly rotate their exhibitions spanning everything from light installations to posing cultural questions.
Croydon Airport Visitor Centre
A fascinating micro-museum, the Croydon Airport Visitor Centre houses the world’s oldest Air Traffic Control Centre as well as displays and exhibitions dedicated to the Battle of Britain and the airport’s history including being the UK’s first major international airport. Launched in 2000, the museum is only open on the first Sunday of every month, but the free museum is well worth it for aviation fans and the inquisitive, with plenty of models and displays on offer and free guided tours.