I was recently contacted by someone asking me where we like to go for family days out in London and without much thought my instant response was the parks!
Ive said it before and I’ll say it again: boys are like dogs..they need a good RUN every day! Come rain or shine, we absolutely love nothing more than spending our Saturday or Sunday out in one of the lovely large green open spaces in London. Wellies, raincoats, bikes, scooters, balls, rugs, picnics, sunglasses, you name it, we’ll do it.
As busy and hectic as city living is (and believe me, I dream daily about escaping and living in the countryside), we are very fortunate to have so many beautiful parks on our doorstep. Here are some of our favourites;
HOLLAND PARK- handily only a 20 minute walk from our house, Holland Park sits just beyond Notting hill, snug between Holland Park and Kensington. One of the smaller parks we love, but love it we do, particularly to see the free-roaming Peacocks, or admire the pond life in the beautifully pruned Japanese garden, the ‘Kyoto garden’. For the children there are two playgrounds. A smaller one for the littles with a clean sandpit, swings and slide..also knows as a bit of a suntrap so you can soak up some rays on the bench whilst looking on! The larger one is an adventure playground, for older children. Very spacious and houses giant trampolines, swing rope and climbing rocket among others. One side of the park has sports fields and the other is a woodland area, where you’ll find lots of wildlife and an Ecology centre. Every summer term at Harry’s school, the ecology centre runs a forest club which he absolutely loves.
KENSINGTON GARDENS- situated between Queensway/ Bayswater and Kensington high street, it sits at one end of HYDE PARK and is known as the gardens of Kensington Palace. We’re fortunate enough to live only 15 minutes away and it’s also a stones throw from Harry’s school. This park is fantastic for the children because it has the Princess Diana memorial playground which is high on the kids list because it’s home to a giant pirate ship! It’s gated off to provide a safe enclosed playing area and manned by a security guard at all times who will only let adults enter if they are with children. The kids can climb the boat, dig in the large sandpit, play in the wooden huts, pretend to be Cowboys and Indians by the giant tipi’s, or stimulate their senses in the musical garden. Be sure to treat yourselves to an ice cream from the cafe, or splurge on pizzas for lunch to eat on the picnic benches. The other thing we love to do is feed the ducks and swans by the large pond.
REGENTS PARK- This was my childhood park as it is so local to where I grew up in Marylebone. These days we only really go if we’re over at granny’s and grandads, which is a shame as its beautiful. Pretty large in size, it has a fabulous lake that you can pedlo or row on with the family. Lots of open space, blossom trees, kids playgrounds, geese and ducks a’plenty, pruned rose gardens, coffee shops and the renowned open air Regents Park Theatre. I remember my mum showing me a new part of the park about 2 years ago, which she had discovered just beyond the rose gardens.. a litte pond island that you access via a small bridge. Great for secret picnics! Oh, and LONDON ZOO is located at Regents park to 🙂
PRIMROSE HILL- I recently introduced a friend of mine to Primrose Hill park as her and her family had never been before. Now she loves it so much she’s telling her friends about it! This is another park ive been going to since I was a child. It’s in North London, just beyond Regents Park. The giveaway is in the title: it’s a hill, and quite a steep one at that. From the top you get a fabulous view overlooking London and all of the famous landmarks. As children, my siblings and I would roll down the hill, and my Harry has learnt to do that same. My husband on the other hand has a memory of skateboarding down the hill and breaking his arm… I don’t recommend coming down the hill at high speed!! This park is a particular favourite of mine in the autumn months, because the abundant fallen leaves make for some great crafts with the kids on a cold day. When you’re done wth your walk in the park, the quaint high street beside it on Regents Park Road has some beautiful cafe’s, restaurants and boutiques. A favourite shop of ours is the toy shop on the corner, called ‘Cachao’ which has an awesome variety of bits, perfect for Christmas stocking ideas.
HAMPSTEAD HEATH- Another North London park, this vast forest and woodland is so rugged and full of character. With lots of open space for large family games of rounders and picnic gatherings, among wooded clusters full to the brim with wildlife. Fabulous climbing trees, large swimming ponds and a lido. We’ve spent many mothering sundays up at Kenwood House, which is situated in one area of the heath.
BLACK PARK COUNTRY PARK- This was our recent find, that is currently on the top of Harry’s favourite places to go. Just on the outskirts of London, in Buckinghamshire, this stunning park is bursting with row after row of taller than tall pine trees. It’s the best place to gather pine cones for christmas without a doubt and grab them while you can in October though, as by December they’re pretty much either gone, rotten or closed! Harry learnt to ride his two-wheeler bike there, so it has a special place in his heart. There is a wonderful lawn for bbq’s and picnics, a large pond and big adventure playground for the children, which is next to a great cafe serving hot and cold food. They have decent kids meals, so we usually all eat there. Not many people know about this park, but it really is worth a visit and super easy to get to on the A40.