Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

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Inspiring botanical landmark
Formally known as the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, this hugely popular London destination spreads itself across 300 acres of beauty and tranquility, with something to look at outdoors or indoors throughout the year. Now a World Heritage Site and a vital international research facility, Kew has literally grown over two and a half centuries; features include an 18th-century Chinese pagoda, 19th-century iron-and-glass Palm House and vast Temperate House, and 20th-century Princess of Wales Conservatory (with ten climactic zones). The grounds are simply lovely, but unlike other green spaces in London Kew does not double as a cruising ground. Not far away are Richmond Village and Park, and even closer is the Original Maids of Honour (288 Kew Rd), where you might consider afternoon tea, not forgetting to sample the delicious signature custardy pastry (maid of honour), dating back to the time of Henry VIII. Check website for opening times, which vary from season to season.