When I first moved to London I lived north. Five years in Hampstead meant I explored a lot of the city’s higher latitudes. But now that I live south I don’t get up that way as much. Until today, when a friend’s birthday party has given me an excuse to explore Crouch End.

Crouch End

Crouch End

Crouch End is one of my favorite under-the-radar London neighborhoods. East of Highgate and south of the Alexandra Palace, it stays incognito partly because it’s not really on the tube (although Highgate station isn’t a million miles away).

Vintage Car in London

It’s worth navigating the trains to get here, though, and now that I’ve alighted at Hornsey station I’m ready to discover all there is to do in Crouch End.

Things to Do in Crouch End

The area centers around the Crouch End Clock Tower, which sits at the junction of the four roads that lead to it. Each one is packed with restaurants, shops, pubs, and cafes, meaning there’s a lot to discover where “X” marks the intersection.

Crouch End Clock Tower

Park Road is my favorite of the four, not least because it has the most appealing shops. On this visit a downpour means I’m highly motivated to browse, and I stop in at places like Little Paris Store.

Its lampshades and vintage maps are just the things to get me excited to decorate my new flat, and I spend a while choosing colors and shapes.

Little Paris Store in Crouch End

Back outside, I dodge raindrops as I make my way past flower shops and art galleries to get back to the clock tower. En route I pass street art murals and colorful facades that brighten up the gloomy day.

Street Art in Crouch End

Back by the clock tower I find myself in House of Books, an independent bookshop I remember going to when I first discovered Crouch End. It’s been nearly a decade since I was last inside, but the shop still retains its appeal (bookshops are all the more cozy on rainy days, aren’t they?).

Shop in Crouch End

I browse through the titles then head back into the rain to explore Broadway Parade. This street packs in a lot more shops and restaurants, including The Queens. The pub is beautiful outside and in, with a stunning historic facade giving way to dark wood paneling and stained glass.

The Queens Pub, Crouch End

Not far from The Queens are a sleek cinema and several restaurants with interiors that could be straight out of a design magazine.

And speaking of design, my favorite shop on the street is Indish Design Shop. Its lamps alone could keep me entertained all afternoon.

Restaurant in Crouch End

But I can’t spend all my time in Crouch End indoors. One of the best things about this London neighborhood is the views, and they’re best seen from the side streets.

I walk back towards Hornsey station and turn down Montague Road. Its rows of colorful facades slope down, offering a view of terraced houses in the distance.

View in Crouch End

Seeing them reminds me of another reason I like Crouch End so much. The topography means there’s always a glimpse to be had of something beautiful on the horizon.

But today there’s mostly a storm on the horizon, so it’s time to leave Crouch End and head to my friend’s party. It’s been a great day exploring in spite of the weather, and while the rain has meant I haven’t had much time to get onto the side streets, it’s also given me an excuse to come back in better weather. Fingers crossed for sunshine!

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Crouch End

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