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London (Ontario)

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London [1] is a medium-sized city in Ontario, Canada. It is located west of Toronto, between Lake Huron and Lake Erie at the fork of the Thames River (not to be confused with the River Thames in London, England).


Snow in Victoria Park

Understand

Thames River near the fork of the Thames, Blackfriars Street Bridge in the distance

London, pop. 378,000, is a major manufacturing centre for southwestern Ontario, founded in 1793. Nicknamed the "Forest City," London has an abundance of urban parks and woodlands. Early in its history it was considered as a potential site for the capital city of Upper Canada, but that title eventually went to York (later Toronto).

Many cities, towns, counties, and rivers in this area of Southwestern Ontario take their names from their counterparts in England, and London is no exception. London features landmarks such as Picadilly Street, the Covent Garden Market and the Thames.

In the 1920s London-born Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians hit the U.S. music scene and went on to achieve legendary fame. London's Wonderland Gardens later became a big-band hotspot in 1935.

With 2 major hospitals, London is a regional medical center, treating patients from up to 200km away. London also has the region's only university (The University of Western Ontario) which has all the typical professional schools (business, law, medicine, engineering) as well as sciences and the arts. Since the city is also home to Fanshawe College, students comprise a significant percentage of London's population during the school year.

Visitor informations centers are located at:

  • Dundas Street (Downtown) Information Centre, 267 Dundas Street. Hours: M-F 8:30AM-4:30PM, Sa-Su 10AM-5PM.
  • London Tourist Information Centre, 696 Wellington Road South. Hours: M-Su 8:30AM-8PM.

Get in

By plane

The London International Airport [2] is serviced by a number of airlines. Air Canada and Westjet offer service from most major cities in Canada while Delta Connection and United Express offer service to Detroit and Chicago, respectively. City bus route 36 (Airport Industrial) connects to the airport. Aboutown AirbusExpress [3] and, RobertQ Airbus [4] have regular routes to London from Detroit and Toronto airports and some other Southwestern Ontario cities.

By train

  • VIA Rail [5] operates train service to and from London. The train station (888-842-7245) is located downtown at 205 York St. London is in the middle of VIA's busiest route, the Windsor-Montreal corridor, and train service runs multiple times daily, beginning as early as 5:00AM.

By car

London is most readily accessed from Highway 401, which runs through the southern part of the city and connects London with Toronto and other parts of the province. The speed limit on the 401 in most parts is 100 km/h, but expect most people to be travelling at ~120 km/h in good conditions. The easiest exit off the 401 to London is #186, Wellington Road North. This will put you right into a busy shopping district and pointed in the right direction to get to the downtown core. There are no highways running through the city, so getting around by car necessitates travel on 2 or 4-lane roadways with speed limits ranging from 50 to 70 km/h.

London is fairly easy to navigate, as its streets are based on a grid system. Oxford Street, Dundas Street and Commissioners Road are the main east-west arteries. Fanshawe Park Road runs east-west across the northern part of the city. Southdale Road is the main artery which runs east-west in the south end of the city. The main north-south arterial roads are Wonderland Road in the west, Wellington Road/Richmond Street and Adelaide Street in the centre and Highbury Ave in the east.

By bus

The Greyhound bus station, [6], 519 434-3245, is located downtown at 101 York Street. Various other bus terminals are mostly located in downtown London.

Aboutown's NorthLink [7] connects communities from Owen Sound through to London along Highway 21, Bruce County Roads 6 and 1, Huron County Roads 20 and 22 and Highways 86 and 4. Arrival and departure from the Greyhound terminal.

Get around

By transit

The London Transit Commission [8] (LTC) operates within the city at a $2.75 cash fare, ticket strips are available at a reduced price at most convenience stores, and monthly passes are available. Buses vary from every 5 minutes downtown, to every 15 to 60 minutes in various other areas. The LTC doesn't operate past midnight on major routes, so expect to travel by taxi after that time.

By taxi

  • Aboutown, [9], 519 432-2222. Taxis, charter vehicles and airbus services.
  • U-Need-A-Cab, 519 438-2121.
  • London Taxi, 519 657-1111.

By bike

The city has an extensive bicycle path network. A map can be found here (warning - large PDF)

See

Museum London
  • Museum London, 421 Ridout Street North, 519 661-0333, [10]. Contains art and historical exhibits.
  • Eldon House, 481 Ridout Street North, 519 661-0333, [11]. London's oldest surviving residence, containing heirlooms and furniture reflecting life in early 19th century London.
  • Banting House National Historic Site, 442 Adelaide St. North (at the corner of Queens Avenue and Adelaide Street), 519 673-1752, [12]. Tu-Sa: Noon-4PM. Chronicles the life and achievements of Canadian Sir Frederick Grant Banting, the discoverer of insulin. Adults $5, students and seniors $4, children under 5 free.
  • Blackfriars Street Bridge, across the Thames River connecting the north end of Ridout Street with Blackfriars Street. A rare example of a bowstring truss bridge. Built in 1875 and spanning 65.8m, it is the longest working span of its kind in North America.
  • Wortley Village [13], Wortley Road between Askin Street and Tecumseh Ave, was voted one of Canada's coolest neighbourhoods in 2002 by enRoute magazine. Filled with eclectic, locally-owned merchants and cafes.

There are lots of parks in downtown London. They include:

  • Springbank Park. A charming downtown destination complete with green space, picnic areas & facilities, formal gardens, wading pool, playgrounds, small family train track, merry-go-round and Storybook Gardens. Its paved trails are part of a 30-km system for walkers, cyclists, runners and roller-bladers.
  • Victoria Park, [14]. According to the City's website this 15-acre park is one of the most important designed landscapes of the 19th century and has been a hub of social and recreational activities since 1874. Many festivals and events take place here throughout the year. Bring nuts to feed the squirrels.

Do

  • Storybook Gardens, Springbank Park, [15]. Hours vary throughout the year. A family attraction open all year round - animals, rides, games, play areas, a splash area in the summer, skating in the winter, and beautiful gardens. Check website for admission prices.
  • Labatt Brewery Tours, Simcoe Street Brewery at 150 Simcoe St, 519 850-TOUR(8687), [16], [17]. Guided tours of the brewery where Labatt founder John Kinder Labatt started brewing beer over 160 years ago. The brewery now produces more than 1 billion bottles of beer annually.
  • Walk or hike part of the Thames Valley Trail, a 109-km hiking trail which follows the Thames and North Thames Rivers along most of the route. Group hikes for the weekend and following week are listed each Thursday in the London Free Press Thursday Ticket section. The trail is paved for an easy walk in Gibbons, Harris, and Springbank parks.
  • East Park Golf Gardens and Wally World, 1275 Hamilton Road (between Highbury Avenue and Clarke Sideroad on Hamilton Road East), 519 451-2950, [18]. 18-hole golf course, driving range, mini golf, waterslides.
  • Forest City Velodrome, 4380 Wellington Road South, 519 878-7849, [19]. Check out the race calendar or find out more about riding on the track. Bike rentals available.
Forest City Velodrome
  • Head 2 Head Games, 246 Dundas Street, 519 434-5591, [20]. Open 24/7. North America's oldest gaming cafe.
  • The Grand Theatre, 471 Richmond Street, [21]. Live plays and performances. The mainstage season runs from September to May.
  • The John Labatt Centre, 99 Dundas Street (across the street from the Covent Garden Market), [22]. Check out what attractions are coming to town. You can catch the London Knights - the local junior 'A' hockey team - in action from late August to March.
  • Labatt Memorial Park, 25 Wilson Ave, is the Guinness-recognized oldest baseball park in the world, having been continuously used since 1877. The semi-pro London Majors play from April through August.
  • Delaware Speedway, 1640 Gideon Drive, Delaware, ON, 519-652-5068, [23]. Located just west of London, Delaware Speedway is Canada's oldest paved automobile racetrack, open since 1952. It is one of only two tracks in Canada running NASCAR late models. Racing runs on the 1/2 mile egg-shaped oval every Friday night from April through September, weather permitting, with occasional bigger races on weekends. Check the schedule for details.
  • Centennial Hall, 550 Wellington Street, 519 672-1967, [24]. Concerts and events - check the event schedule to see what's on.
  • Western Fair, [25]. The fair takes place the first two weeks of September. The site is also home to the Western Raceway, for harness racing and 750 slot machines.
  • Sunfest, in Victoria Park, [26]. Takes place in July and features top professional world music & dance and jazz ensembles from Canada and abroad. Free admission.

Learn

  • University of Western Ontario, [27].
  • Fanshawe College,one of Ontario's leading colleges and the largest college in Southwestern Ontario [28].
  • CDI College London, [29].
  • Everest College, [30].
  • Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology, [31].
  • List of Elementary and High Schools .

Buy

According to London Tourism, London has "more shopping per capita than anywhere else in North America."

  • CityLights bookstore, 356 Richmond Street (between King and York streets), 519 679-8420, is one of the best used bookstores to be found anywhere and a city landmark. A huge selection with a particularly good science fiction section.
  • Grooves Records, 353 Clarence St., (519)640-6714, [32]. London's last downtown independent record store, specializes in new/used vinyl and hard-to-find CD's.
  • Masonville Shopping Centre, Fanshawe Park Road & Richmond St., is one of London's two major malls and anchors the major retail development in the north end. Try also the Hyde Park big-box development, two miles west on Fanshawe Park Road.
  • PT Campbell BookDealer, 388 Richmond St (between King and Dundas on the east side), 519-640-5333. (Closed Holidays and Sundays): Monday - Thurday 10AM - 6:30PM ; Friday 10AM - 8PM ; Saturday 10AM - 6PM. London's family friendly used book store with over 35,000 titles to choose from. Specializing in out-of-print and antique books.
  • Speed City Records, 299 Springbank Drive, 519-858-2680, [33]. Specializes in punk and metal, with a gigantic, unorganized dollar vinyl section. Surly clerks are right out of Central Casting.
  • White Oaks Mall, 1105 Wellington Road, 519-681-0434, [34]. Over 175 stores and services, anchoring a larger big-box retail development stretching up and down Wellington Road between Southdale Road and just south of the 401.

Eat

Most of the Canadian and North American chain restaurants are represented in London, including The Keg, Kelsey's, Red Lobster, Tony Roma's, Milestones, Swiss Chalet and East Side Mario's. Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee and doughnut chain, has about 30 locations within the city.

Prince Albert's Diner in London, Ontario

Downtown

  • Barakat Restaurant, 551 Richmond Street, 519 850-8080, [35]. Middle Eastern food including fantastic shawarma and falafel. Meals $5-15.
  • Ben Thanh , 57 York Street, at Ridout, 519 438-4888, [36]. Very popular Vietnamese/Thai restaurant with many vegetarian options and reasonable prices. Ben Thanh has recently opened a second location at Wellington Rd and Southdale in the south end of the city.
  • Bertoldi's Trattoria , 650 Richmond St at Pall Mall, 519 438-4343, [37]. Traditional Italian family-run trattoria. Noted for wood-oven pizzas and one of the best Italian wine selections in London. Great service.
  • Billy's Deli, downtown on Dundas Street, just west of Richmond. Great for breakfast, Mennonite-inspired food and good portion sizes. Seasonal desserts are not to be missed and sell out quickly, particularly during strawberry season. Closed on Sundays.
  • The Black Trumpet, 523 Richmond St., 519-850-1500. If money is no object, the Black Trumpet is the place to go. Widely considered the top fine dining restaurant in London as of 2010.
  • Cafe Demetre, 660 Richmond Street, 519 679-2222. A good spot for dessert - options include crepes, waffles, ice cream sundaes with cute names. Under $10.
  • Covent Garden Market , 130 King Street, 519 439-3921, [38]. Great place to get food downtown - over 30 vendors offer food that caters to a wide variety of tastes.
  • Delta London Armouries, 325 Dundas Street, 519 679-6111. Hotel restaurant well known for having "London's Best Sunday Brunch," including waffles, omelettes, and a sauteed shrimp station. Reservations recommended.
  • Dragonfly Bistro, 715 Richmond Street (South of Oxford, north of the tracks on Richmond), 519-432-2191, [39]. Open M-Sa for lunch and dinner. Intimate bistro, good food, reasonable prices. Indonesian Cuisine served on Monday evenings.
  • Jambalaya, 119 Dundas Street, 519 858-2000, [40]. Cajun, Caribbean and Thai in a cozy atmosphere.
  • Joe Kool's, 595 Richmond St., 519-663-5665 [41]. Offical slogan "Minutes from all Major Hospitals" belies the excellent bar and grill-style food. Great value for money. A local institution.
  • Manna Grill, 276 Wharncliffe Road North, 519 439-5770. Authentic Korean Dishes and Japanese Fare.
  • Marienbad Restaurant, 122 Carling St., 519-679-9940 [42]. Open since 1974, the Marienbad serves German and Eastern European food in a cozy, old-world atmosphere. Be sure to check out Chaucer's Pub next door as well for London's best selection of beer.
  • Michael's on the Thames, 1 York St., 519-672-0111 [43]. Essentially unchanged since the day it opened in 1983, Michael's is a classical fine dining experience popular with an older crowd.
  • On the Fork, 421 Ridout Street North (at Museum London), 519 850-FORK, [44]. Open for lunch, brunch and dinner, closed Mo-Tu. Casual fine dining with a lovely view overlooking the forks of the Thames. Menu changes seasonally. Dinner mains $12-16.
  • Prince Albert's Diner, 565 Richmond St., (519) 432-2835. Locally famous greasy spoon popular with students and the after-bar crowd. The menu is standard (but good) diner fare, but the milkshakes are terrific.
  • Raja Fine Dining, 428 Clarence St, [45]. London's best Indian restaurant.
  • Si Senor, 394 Waterloo St., 519-936-3186. The only truly authentic Mexican restaurant in London.
  • Spageddy Eddy's, 428 Richmond Street, 519 645-3002. Inexpensive pasta bar popular with students.
  • Stobie's Pizza, 484 Richmond Street, 519 432-2228. A local favourite with gigantic slices of pizza at extremely reasonable prices. Usually open past 3AM.
  • Trü, 45 King St., 519-672-4333 [46]. Pricy, but high quality New American-style cuisine.

South

  • Cedar Cafe, 561 Southdale Rd E, 519-681-5969, [47]. Great place for Lebanese cuisine. Excellent Shawarma and Falafel sandwichs starting at $3.50. They also offer plates from $5 to $9. Dine in or take out. They also offer Herbal Shisha/Hookah to customers in a wide variety of flavors for $9. Very affordable for great quality healthy food.
  • Shiki Japanese Restaurant , 715 Wellington Road South, near Southdale, 519 668-7407, [48] . This popular place serves fresh and delicious authentic Japanese fare. A rare find and a perfect place for a friendly lunch meeting or romantic dinner date.

East

  • East Village Coffeehouse , 785 Dundas Street, 519 266-7584. London's only deco-inspired gallery/cafe selling up-scale locally-made foods, espresso and specialty drinks - an eco-friendly choice just steps west of London's historic Aeolian Hall. Eclectic yet cozy atmosphere reminiscent of Toronto's Queen St. West.
  • Vietnam Restaurant, 1074 Dundas St. E, 519-457-0762, [49]. Don't let the dive atmosphere or the industrial neighbourhood fool you - Vietnam Restaurant has authentic and excellent Vietnamese cuisine.

North

  • Crave and Next Door, 1737 Richmond St. N., 519-645-8886, [50]. Wolfgang Puck-esque upscale bar food, Crave and Next Door share a kitchen. Crave is famous for their commitment to local, seasonal food, while Next Door in particular represents excellent value-for-money.
  • The Waltzing Weasel, 1324 Adelaide St. N., 519-663-9194 [51]. Authentic English pub food and a wide selection of ales.

Drink

Generally, the locals head to the bars and clubs around 10-11PM and stay until closing time at 2:30AM (last call is at 2AM). Cover charges are minimal ($5-10) or nil, while drink prices are relatively reasonable.

  • Barney's, 671 Richmond Street, (519) 432-1425. A very entertaining bar with good crowds, reasonable drink prices, and pleasant staff. The patio is extremely popular in summer, expect long lines.
  • Call the Office, York & Clarence, 519-432-BAND, [52]. Live rock music five nights a week, CTO is the anchor of London's independent music scene. Retro night on Sundays is extremely popular.
  • The Ceeps, 671 Richmond St., [53]. Officially the CPR Hotel, the Ceeps has been in existence since 1890 and has never stopped being one of the most popular UWO bars. The local joke is "your grandfather drank here, your father drank here, and your son someday will too".
  • Chaucer's Pub, 122 Carling St., (519) 679-9940, [54]. London's largest selection of beer, specializing in Eastern European lagers and ales. The old-world atmosphere is unique in the city, featuring a gigantic stone fireplace, no TV's, and music provided only by a piano.


Sleep

Budget

  • ACBB Accommodations, 190 Wellington Street, +1 519 936-7823, [55]. Only backpackers' hostel in London. Located in the middle of downtown. Beds start at $25 per night.

Mid-range

  • Hampton Inn London Ontario, 840 Exeter Road, +1 519 649-6500, [56]. Unique stores, friendly restaurants and stunning scenery all surround this new hotel.
  • Country Inn & Suites, 774 Baseline Rd E, +1 519 430-1150, [57]. Located directly across from Victoria hospital and therefore usually quite quiet. Rooms typically start around $70.

Splurge

  • Delta London Armouries, 325 Dundas Street, +1 519 679-6111, [58]. Located downtown. Indoor pool, whirlpool and children's splash pool, plus saunas and a fitness room. Excellent Sunday brunch ($25pp, reservations recommended). Pet-friendly. Rooms start at $180 per night.
  • Hilton London Ontario, 300 King Street, +1 519 439-1661, [59]. Located downtown. Fitness room and pool. Rooms start at $140 per night.

Stay safe

London is a very safe city for the most part. There is urban blight on Dundas Street east of Adelaide and in the surrounding neighbourhood, but the downtown area is very safe apart from around the time when the bars let out around 2 AM on weekends.

Contact

  • Central London Public Library, 251 Dundas St., 519 661-4600. Closed Sunday. All London library branches (there are 16 throughout the city) offer free computer/internet access for 30 minutes a day. Free WiFi is available at most locations, including the Central branch.

Get out

  • The beautiful town of St. Marys is located north of London. Stratford, home of the Shakespeare Festival from May to October, is about 60 km north of London and is a great day trip for theatre-goers.
  • Toronto, the multicultural capital of Ontario, is located approximately 200 km east.
  • Detroit, Michigan, is located approximately 120 miles south-west.
  • Niagara Falls, Ontario; Niagara Falls, New York; and Buffalo, New York are about 200 km north-east.


Routes through London
WindsorChatham-Kent  W noframe E  IngersollToronto
Sarnia ← Strathroy ←  W noframe E  Ends at ON-401.png





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