Before WW2, Hemel Hempstead was a historic market town surrounded by mill villages - but it was shortly to be transformed. After the conflict, it was designated a new town and extensively developed in order to house some of the Londoners displaced by the Blitz. Today Hemel Hempstead is a beguiling mix of the old and new, combining the quaint old town and Victorian mill buildings with a particularly 20th-century vision of town planning, including the infamous 'magic roundabout'.
Hemel Hempstead's modern town centre can be found to the north of Heath Park on the banks of the River Gade. The original shopping precinct that was built as part of Hemel's new town development is called The Marlowes, and it has recently gained a new neighbouring in the Riverside Shopping Centre. Together they're home to numerous high street stores as well as cafes and restaurants.
Those looking for a traditional pub should head to Hemel Hempstead Old Town, which stands to the north of The Marlowes along the High Street. Its fine selection of watering holes includes the historic Old Bell, and there are plenty of restaurants to eat in after slaking your thirst. Also in the area is the Old Town Hall Arts Centre, which hosts a programme of theatre performances, comedy and music.
One of Hemel Hempstead's most striking landmarks is The Snow Centre, a real snow indoor ski-slope with a bar and restaurant. In the south of the town, the Paper Trail museum at Frogmore Paper Mill tells the story of the paper industry in the town through an imaginative exhibition and different workshops. It's close to Apsley station, one of two railway stations serving the town.