Gallery hop in the arts district scattered among the printing plants and auto junkyards of remote Hackney Wick before it is usurped by the Olympic Games. The Residence Gallery displays contemporary art inside an 1890 church cottage, and whose original locale is slated to be torn down at the end of October. Enter the Elevator Gallery through a bright-red door on White Post Lane and find the work of emerging artists installed in a former chocolate factory. (Eat before you come, as Pret A Manger has yet to reach this corner of London.)
Find one-of-a-kind items in Columbia Road’s strip of independent boutiques. Artist Rob Ryan has collaborated with labels Paul Smith and Earnest Sewn, but you can find his more affordable illustrated tiles and screen-printed scarves at Ryantown (126 Columbia Rd., 20-7613-1510; Open Weekends). Down the road, Lapin & Me carries French designer Nathalie Lete’s fanciful tote bags inspired by vintage children’s books and toys. Stop for tea (but not coffee) and cupcakes at throwback bakery Treacle, London’s answer to Magnolia.
Go clubbing amid the kebab shops and betting parlors on Kingsland Road in Shoreditch. At The Russian (267 Kingsland Rd., 78-0942-5905), be prepared to see partiers in full animal costumes. Take a cab to Dalston Superstore (117 Kingsland High St., 20-7254-2273), a bar-café/art-space that opened in an old supermarket in April. On weekends, expect a line around the block of asymmetrical haircuts and Day-Glo T-shirts a mostly gay crowd packs the basement for disco and soul music. Make your way back to Shoreditch for a nightcap at the George and Dragon (2-4 Hackney Rd., 20-7012-1100), the always-jumping dive bar with fabulously kitschy décor, a mixed straight-gay crowd, and resurrected hits of the eighties.