Start your Perfect Day at Piccadilly Circus Underground Station, and revel in the beauty of the advertisements and cacophony of the tourists huddled around the Eros statue when you return above ground.
After you snap a few photos, make your way over to Piccadilly Street and walk down a few blocks until you reach Fortnum & Mason.
Fortnum & Mason is known as the Queen's grocer. It has several floors of merchandise ranging from foods to fancy hats for your day at the derby. I'm a big fan of the Countess Grey Tea and the shortbread biscuits. Fortnum & Mason also has several restaurants where you can have everything from high tea (you'd better be dressed appropriately) to an expensive fancy ice cream sundae at the parlor. Book ahead for any food service to avoid disappointment. What to buy: tea, tea cups, tea pots, branded tote bag, biscuits (the tin designs are fantastic), and kitchen towels
If the goods at Fortnum & Mason don't fit your quirky style, head to the shop across the side street from F&M to Cath Kidston. I'd describe Cath as the UK Vera Bradley; the prints are iconic to the brand with a cute bit of whimsy. You'll find handbags, clothing, and home goods.
When you finish at these two shops, head across Piccadilly to the Burlington Arcade. Arcades are a lovely throwback to Victorian times, and this was one of the first. It is monitored by guards named a Beadles. The arcade shops are more for window shopping than buying as you will quickly find, but it's a quick walk through British history.
After the arcade, make your way over to Regent Street and start walking. You'll see many familiar brands on your walk: Gap, UNIQLO, H&M, SuperDry, and Apple. One tourist mecca you will undoubtedly see is Hamley's Toy store. I do not actually enjoy going into the store at all since it's an absolute assault to your senses, and they don't have anything you can't find online or your local shop for cheaper anyway. Remember, the exchange rate is not in your favor. Walk down one more block and turn right on Great Marlborough Street to Liberty. What to buy (if you go in): Playmobil Royal Guard
Liberty of London is great from top to bottom, and it's one of my favorites in the whole city. The building was built in 1924 in a mock-Tudor style. Many of the timbers used in its construction came from former sea ships. It is a listed historical building, and man is she a beauty. You must explore each floor from an architectural and retail perspective. Liberty is known for its iconic in-house created prints for scarves, fabric, housewares, and clothing. Be sure to find the Eastern Objects area that's full of one of a kind items the buyer hand picked on trips to Asia & Africa. What to buy: Liberty print items (I covet a Liberty scarf, but it's too rich for my budget) or papers from the stationary room.
Liberty's location puts you at a crossroads for additional shopping. You can head out back of the shop and explore the shops of Carnaby Street or continue down Regent Street to Oxford Street. Both have national-known brands along with fun eclectic shops. Be wary of the souvenir shops - don't say I didn't warn you.
Have you visited either of these shops? Do you think I should highlight any other iconic London shops?
Every day can be a Perfect Day in London as long as you are prepared. Always have a collapsible umbrella in your bag. The shade-filled streets, museums, and parks can be significantly cooler than the sunny sidewalks.