The Harry Potter Studio tours is high on most people’s list of things to do in the UK with them being able to accommodate 6,000 visitors a day. Yet while many people will head to Watford for the tour, very few people know what else Watford has to offer. I’ll admit that I was one of them!
I’ve actually lived in Watford for over 2 years now although I barely went out exploring the area until recently. I originally only moved to Watford because my ex wanted to be closer to his family and I didn’t want to leave the oyster zone so we moved to Watford.
Even though it was never my idea to come to Watford, after we split I stuck around and I’ve enjoyed getting to know the area more.
- 1 Where is Watford?
- 2 Getting to Watford from London
- 3 The Best Things to do in Watford
- 3.1 Harry Potter Studio
- 3.2 Cassiobury Park
- 3.3 Cheslyn House & Gardens
- 3.4 Watford Museum
- 3.5 Hertfordshire Fire Brigade Museum
- 3.6 Top Golf
- 3.7 Spa Day at The Grove
- 3.8 Watford Palace Theatre
- 3.9 Watford Colosseum
- 3.10 St Mary’s Church
- 3.11 Laser Planet
- 3.12 Whippendell Woods
- 3.13 Watford F.C
- 3.14 Bedlam Paintball
- 3.15 The Pump House
- 3.16 Watford Market
- 3.17 Oxhey Park
- 3.18 Breakout Rooms
- 3.19 Derby Road Skatepark
- 3.20 Parents Paradise Play Centre
- 3.21 The Forties Experience
- 3.22 d20 Board Game Cafe
- 3.23 The Abandoned Watford Railway Station
- 3.24 Cloud 9 Inflatable Park
- 3.25 Bushey Rose Garden
- 3.26 Bushey Museum & Art Gallery
- 3.27 The Cooking Academy
- 3.28 Rickmansworth Aquadrome
- 3.29 Footgolf Rickmansworth
- 3.30 Bhaktivedanta Manor
Where is Watford?
Watford is a town and borough located in Hertfordshire just 15 miles (24 km) northwest of central London. While not technically part of London, Watford is still part of London’s Oyster Zone which is why it is a popular town for commuters who work in London.
Getting to Watford from London
Watford is easy to get to from London. Simply hop on a train from London Euston station and you can be at Watford Junction within 15-21 minutes. Be careful not to hop on a London Overground train though as this will take 48 minutes to get to Watford.
As well as Watford Junction station, other options are Watford High Street (overground), Watford Tube Station (Metropolitan line) and Watford North Rail station.
The Best Things to do in Watford
Harry Potter Studio
Of course I couldn’t make a ‘things to do in Watford’ list without including the Harry Potter Studio tour. This is a must visit attraction for Harry Potter fans. During the tours fans will get the chance to discover the work that goes into making the films. This of course includes seeing some of the filming sets such as The Great Hall.
Cassiobury Park is the largest open public space in Watford (190 acres) and is one of Watford’s most popular attractions. The park receives around 800,000 visitors a year and hosts a number of sporting and entertainment events.
Cassiobury Park is a great place for nature lovers to visit. You can take a stroll along the canals and through the trees. Families will love Cassiobury with its Cha Cha Playground for small kids and the impressive Paddling Pool Playground for older kids that has numerous swings, climbing frames and even a zipwire!
Cheslyn House & Gardens
Cheslyn House and Gardens is a hidden little gem in Watford not to miss out on. Not only is it free to visit, the gardens are stunning to walk around. With a variety of flowers, exotic plants, a rock garden, pond and bird aviary, the gardens are a beautiful place to take the family or go for a picnic.
Opened in 1982, Watford Museum is housed in a Grade II listed Georgian town house that previously housed the Benskins Brewery. It’s a great place to visit if you want to learn more about Watford’s past and present. They have a significant amount of fine art on display as well as memorabilia from Watford at War, Victorian Watford and Watford Football Club which includes a display dedicated to Sir Elton John.
Hertfordshire Fire Brigade Museum
Located right by the Watford Museum you’ll also find the Hertfordshire Fire Brigade Museum. Inside the museum you’ll find a collection of various fire service equipment, uniform, documents and photographic display.
If you’re looking for a fun activity in Watford you’ll be happy to know they have a Top Golf in town. If you’ve never been to a Top Golf before you’re in for a treat. It doesn’t matter if you’re a golfing newbie or pro, it’s fun for the whole family.
Each player will get their own microchipped balls and score points by hitting giant dart-like targets. The further the distance of the target and the closer you get to the bullseye, the more points you’ll receive.
Spa Day at The Grove
The Grove is a gorgeous 5 star hotel set within 300 acres of beautiful Hertfordshire countryside. If you’re looking to treat yourself to some luxury in Watford, this is where you need to come. They have an award winning Sequoia spa with several luxurious treatments available plus a pool, sauna, steam room, gym and jacuzzi.
Read Also: Spa Day at Le Meridien in London
Watford Palace Theatre
First opened in 1908 and refurbished in 2004, the Watford Palace Theatre is a 600 seat Edwardian Grade II listed building. They put on high quality shows to entertain and inspire with an aim to reflect the diverse communities.
Another great venue to visit if you love live performances is the Watford Colosseum. Built in 138, this 1,268 seat venue is located right in the heart of Watford and hosts some of the best live music and entertainment. You can catch the same shows you will find in London just without the London price tag!
St Mary’s Church
St Mary’s Church is the oldest building in the borough of Watford. While the date of the first church on the site is unknown, there is evidence that there was a church there back in the 12th Century. The oldest surviving structures of the church date back to the 13th Century.
The garden is beautiful and the inside of the church has recently been refurbished and looks gorgeous. The church has had several tombs restored dating back from between 1725 and 1867.
Have some fun and test out your James Bond moves at Laser Planet. Located on the high street, Laser Planet is a state of the art laser tag centre with laser phasers and vests. It’s great fun for the whole family and anyone who doesn’t want to participate can still watch the action on the monitor in the cafe.
Located at the edge of Watford and close to Cassiobury Park is the ancient woodlands of Whippendell Woods. The area is known for its impressive collection of bluebells and the Watford 10k is organised through the woods in May when the bluebells display is at its best.
Sports fans shouldn’t miss out on a visit to Vicarage Road Stadium when visiting Watford to see some football, England’s most popular sport. Watford have recently left the Premier League and will be joining the Championship league where they will be facing local rivals Luton for the first time since 2006. It will be a great game to see live or even watch at the pubs with the locals.
Read Also: The Best Stadium Tours in London
Bedlam is located within the Hertfordshire Woodlands making it the perfect site for paintballing. With trees and obstacles to manoeuvre, it’s a great place to battle your friends. They also have the option of splatmaster, a low velocity paintball.
The Pump House
The Pump House Theatre & Arts Centre used to be the pumping station that supplied water to Watford. Then in the 1970s the building was converted to a theatre auditorium that seats 124 people. The Pump House covers all art forms including performance, music, written, spoken and visual arts.
Unlike a lot of towns that only have a market once a week, the Watford Market is open most days. The market is open every day of the week except for Sunday and Monday but does have limited stalls available on a Wednesday. The Watford Market is one food lovers won’t want to miss.
Oxhey Park, an award winning park, is approximately 14 hectares of parkland with a wooded dell and rolling grassy slopes. With a children’s play area, outdoor gym and the river Colne to stroll along, a visit to Oxhey Park is perfect for the whole family.
Escape rooms are becoming popular all around the world and Watford is no exception. Breakout Rooms has several different escape rooms available including Spy Games, The Lost City, Blackbeard’s Quest and Exorcism.
Derby Road Skatepark
If you’re good on a skateboard you might want to bring it with you as there is a 1,300 square metre skatepark right opposite Watford High Street Overground Station. The skatepark has a mixture of concrete and tarmac obstacles.
Parents Paradise Play Centre
Parents Paradise is designed by parents for kids and is the perfect way to entertain the kids on a rainy day. They have exciting play frames, go karting race track, a football penalty shooting area, a separate baby play area and private kids party rooms. Plus for mums and dads there are comfortable sofas and great coffee.
The Forties Experience
What was once the headquarters for the United States Air Force 8th Fighter Command during WW2 is now home to The Forties Experience. More than just a museum, The Forties Experience is a living history experience that offers exciting educational trips for both children and adults.
d20 Board Game Cafe
If you’ve never been to a board game cafe they are like regular cafes, just with board games. Simply gather your friends, take a seat at one of the board game tables and pick something to play from the ‘game menu’ which has a selection of over 900 games.
Read Also: Best Cafes in Watford
The Abandoned Watford Railway Station
The first railway station to open in Watford has been closed since 1858 when it was replaced with Watford Junction station. The grade II listed Old Station House still stands and became a second-hand car dealership.
The old staircase down to the platform has been closed off as it’s become too overgrown and unsafe to walk along but you can still see signs of the old platform from the bridge above.
Cloud 9 Inflatable Park
Cloud 9 is a giant indoor inflatable park with an inflatable obstacle course that combines the fun and challenge of Ninja Warrior, Gladiator and Total Wipeout. It’s a great day out for the family and also for the big kids too.
Bushey Rose Garden
The former site of an Art School and now a beautiful garden in Bushey that was a collaboration between artist Sir Hubert von Herkomer and landscape architect Thomas Mowson. After receiving funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the council restored the park to its former glory which is open to the public to enjoy.
Bushey Museum & Art Gallery
Located close to the Bushey Rose Garden you’ll find the Bushey Museum and Art Gallery. The museum showcases local Bushey history with displays of archeology, artefacts and historical documents. Plus a dedicated section to showcasing works of art from Sir Hubert von Herkomer and his famous art school in Bushey.
The Cooking Academy
If you’re looking to improve your cooking skills then look no further than The Cooking Academy. With a huge variety of classes available such as pastry, Thai, Indian, Italian, Spanish, vegetarian, vegan or simply knife skills, there’s a class for you.
Read Also: Taking a Vegan Sushi Cooking Class in London
The Rickmansworth Aquadrome is a local nature reserve that covers 41 hectares and is home to wooded walks, lakes, beautiful open green spaces, a play area and a cafe. With a variety of wildlife and plants it’s an ideal place for walks, picnics and water sports.
The trendy sport of footgolf is a combination of football and golf that is becoming more popular. All you need to bring you trainers and give it a go. Footgolf can be played in Rickmansworth over a 752 yard course of Par 35.
This beautiful old manor located just outside of Watford is definitely worth a visit. Previously known as Piggott’s Manor, the property was donated to the Hare Krishna movement by former Beatle member George Harrison.
Open all year long, the temple offers tours of the shrine, gardens and compassionate farms. Visitors can also participate in yoga classes, vegetarian cooking classes, mantra meditation and various retreats.
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