London is a city that is steeped in a rich history, with each region having its own specific stories and background. The London Docklands are typical of this. Lying to the east of the City of London and the north side of the Thames, the London Docklands offer much in the way of history, as well as being a vibrant modern region with many things to see and explore.
Covering a vast portion of London, the Docklands spans from Woolich all the way to the iconic and popular tourist destination Tower Bridge. Within this area lies Canary Wharf, amidst the West India Docks. Due to Canary Wharf's central location, it makes the perfect centre point for your exploration and a social hub in itself. Canary Wharf boasts a wide range of parks, restaurants, bars, and shops, meaning that any needs or wishes you may have whilst in the London Docklands are easily fulfilled due to the lack of any major travel having to be undertaken by you during your stay. Simply put: if you need it, the London Docklands is able to provide it.
Much of the success and growth of the London Docklands can be attributed to the history that the area enjoys. With the regime of the British Empire came many trade opportunities, and led to the Port of London, of which the Docklands were part, being the largest port in the world at a time. During the Post War Era (after the Second World War), the Docklands as an area was in decline, due to the vast number of bombs that had hit the area during the conflict, and the fact that during the 1960s and 1970s, the way that the shipping industry was revamped only added to this. The move towards the adoption of a new invention in shipping, the container system of goods transportation, led to the move of trade to deep-water ports that better handled the much larger ships that were required by this re-imagined shipping industry.
It was not until the 1980s that the regeneration of the London Docklands that history can show the ways in which change directly attributed to the modern success of the area. Many of the staples seen in the Docklands today began as part of this rejuvenation process, such as the financial capital of London, and the numerous apartments and other types of accommodation on offer. This is a trend that can be seen even now.
The growth of the London Docklands has set a standard for regeneration schemes across the world, receiving attention from the world's leading academics and other individuals or institutions that are responsible for the task of implementing similar strategical regeneration projects. The past thirty years of development has seen the population of the area see a growth of over double, the transportation links to be dramatically improved, and has created a ripple effect of redevelopment in nearby areas such as Greenwich and Deptford.
As said previously, using Canary Wharf, in the heart of the London Docklands. is the ideal hub for your visit. This is due to vast options regarding transportation around not only the Docklands, but also London as a whole. The London Underground is connected via the Jubilee line, offering direct access to the centre of London and Stratford. The DLR (Docklands Light Railway) allows riders links to other areas of the city, as does the option of boarding a riverboat down the Thames, offering the most scenic method of travel, and allowing a vision of London from a unique perspective.
Using these fast and efficient transport links allow you to explore the Docklands, and London as a whole at ease. Whilst there are a vast number of activities to take part in whilst in London, the Docklands offers its own entertainment and attractions. Perhaps the region itself is of particular interest to you, which would mean the the Museum of London's Docklands is a must visit location. Located just a 5 minutes walk west of Canary Wharf, the museum exists to explain the history of the Thames and the docks that are located on it. Surrounded by bars and restaurants, the Museum of London Docklands offers visitors a place to become more cultured and acquainted with the deep history of the Docklands before heading off to dine or drink with friends and family. Of course, the Museum is not the only option available to those with a keen interest in history. Another location is the Limehouse, accessible by DLR (Westferry station). The focus is slightly different at this establishment, highlighting the maritime history of London and the Docklands, but remains an enjoyable stop during your visit if you wish to expand your knowledge.
Of course, there also exist a wide range of sporting and water-sporting activities for those that seek a more active and hands of approach with the London Docklands. WakeUp Docklands hosts a wide array of sporting activities in the waters of the Royal Victoria Dock. From stand up paddleboarding to wakeboarding, the adrenaline junkies out there can fill their desires here.
If museums and water-sports are not your cup of tea, there are plenty of locations that offer opportunities to socialise. Each bar and restaurant in the area has their own unique features, such as The Galley Bar and Oiler Bar, part of WakeUp Dockland. The former offers shelter from the infamous London rains, or on the bright and beautiful days you could also check out the Oiler Bar, which offers a floating beer garden, and views of the Royal Docks as well as the amazing skyline of Canary Wharf. Any atmosphere can be found in the bars and restaurants in London Docklands, so whether you would like a quite relaxing meal, or the opportunity to meet new people, there is something suited to your needs.
The London Docklands are also a great day out for families. Perhaps during your visit you'd like to explore the sights that London has to offer, all easily accessible from the suggested central travel hub of Canary Wharf.
One suggested sightseeing day can begin with a visit to the Tower of London and the iconic Tower Bridge, via DLR station Tower Gateway. Here you will be able to see the location of the crown jewels and the beefeaters that guard them.
After being enriched with the history of the Tower of London, your family can take a break and enjoy a lunch back at Canary Wharf. The journey back will offer you views of the O2, the Hawksmoore churches, and many renovated docks.
When you're ready to journey back out, you could perhaps take the time to visit the Cutty Sark and the Royal Observatory, again via the DLR, arriving at the Cutty Sark station. The Cutty Sark is one of the most famous ships in the world, and here you and your family can follow in the footsteps of sea merchants who travelled with the ship with various previous cargoes. The Royal Observatory will be of interest to you, as the beginning of time, the Meridian Line, passes through here, making it a mind blowing experience for children and adults alike. You could then journey onwards to the Old Royal Naval College, and marvel at the landscaped grounds and baroque architecture, easily accessible by foot from the Cutty Sark station.
The Thames Barrier Park is another location that is ideal for families. Alight at Pontoon Dock DLR station to enjoy the green space that has been a major symbol of the regeneration of East London. The park offers extraordinary views of the Thames and the Flood Barrier. Within also lies the Green Dock sunken garden, a fountain plaza featuring 32 jets, a Coffee Shop, and areas for children to play safely.
Of course, no journey to London Docklands would be complete without riding the Emirates Air Line at least once, something that both adults and children enjoy, boasting impressive 360 degree views of the city. To board the Emirates Air Line you can alight the DLR at the Royal Victoria station.