Puppydog tails — 29 November 2016

There’s no hiding from the facts – outdoor play is essential for your child’s health and development. Health pundits and child development experts up and down the country are ramping up the pressure on parents to get kids away from screens and out into the fresh air, and any park ticks all the boxes.

Whether you’re living in London, taking a day trip to one of London’s impressive museums or visiting London’s West End for a theatre show, scheduling in a bit of kids’ outdoor play could prevent your day turning into a family nightmare. A little bit of fresh air and exercise for the children might be just the ticket to make the rest of your day run a little more smoothly. What’s more, if your kids are old enough, you get to sit back and relax with a coffee, while they do all the running around.

London has some amazing parks and playgrounds on offer. If you’re planning a trip to London, check out the park nearest to your destination and factor in some time for outdoor play. Or if you live in London, you can always give your regular park a rest for the day and explore one of London’s best Royal Parks. Making a day of it with friends and taking a picnic makes a simple, but fun day out.

We’ve picked the best bits of four of London’s most famous Royal Parks, along with playground info and transport links, to help you make the most of your family day out.

St James’s Park

St.-James-Park

If you’re in London visiting Buckingham Palace, Westminster or the Imperial War Museum, then it would be rude not to nip into St James’s Park. Highlights include Horse Guards Parade (a trip to this part of London wouldn’t be complete without catching the Changing of the Guard ceremony), the Blue Bridge spanning the lake, the Tiffany Fountain and the park’s famous resident pelicans at Duck Island. You might catch feeding time in the afternoon if you’re lucky. The park has a restaurant and various kiosks to keep your caffeine levels up and the kids’ hunger pains at bay. Closest tube stations are Westminster and St James’s Park.

The Regents Park

Regent's-Park

What’s not to love about Regent’s Park? A trip to London Zoo or Madame Tussauds can be rounded off with a wander in the Park. Boasting the largest outdoor sports facility in London, there are plenty of open spaces for ball games, Frisbee or even a game of rounders. You might like to check out the magical Open Air Theatre, which runs some shows suitable for kids over the summer months (you’ll need to book in advance). There are no less than four children’s playgrounds, as well as boat and pedalo hire on the main lake. There are plenty of food and drink options too. The central eatery will give grown-ups a chance to wander through Queen Mary’s Gardens showing off London’s largest collection of Roses. Baker Street and Regent’s park tube stations will take you south side. The Zoo, situated at the north east side of the park, is within walking distance of both Camden and Regent’s park tube stations.

Hyde Park

Hyde-Park

There are three playgrounds in Hyde Park, with the largest one nestled on the southern boundary (handy if you’re in London exploring the Natural History Museum, The Science Museum or taking a trip to Harrods). Recently updated, the playground features a new hill fort, a jungle area and new play equipment to encourage socially active play. Also, check out regular events such as the Royal Gun Salutes and Winter Wonderland (Christmas time attraction with ice-skating, circus, fun fair and a giant big wheel). The boating lake has traditional rowing and pedal boats for hire, plus the UK’s first Solar powered shuttle boat. There are a variety of cafes and restaurants, and the closest transport link to the playground area is Knightsbridge tube station.

Greenwich Park

Greenwich-Park

A must if you’re south of the river visiting the National Maritime Museum and the Cutty Sark. The park itself boasts the Royal Observatory Greenwich and The Meridian Line (no childhood is complete without standing one foot either side of Longitude Zero). It’s a hilly park so it’s a great way to wear the kids out by marching them up to the observatory, where there’s also a café. In addition, there’s a deer park with viewing points. The playground is set at the bottom of the hill in north-east corner of the park, next to a small boating lake. The closest transport link to the playground area is Maze Hill railway station, but the park is also within walking distance of Greenwich railway station and the Cutty Sark DLR.

Have a great day out!

Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer working with Harmony at Home, an agency that is proud to count many of the UK’s most experienced, reliable and professional nannies and childcare providers on their books.

Featured image: At a scenic duck pond in Central London near Buckingham Palace are some unusual residents — the famous pelicans of St. James Park, living thousands of miles from their usual habitat DG Jones (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
St James’s Park Neil Howard used under Creative Commons license
Hyde Park Gary Rogers (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Greenwich Park, Royal Observatory Greenwich and National Maritime Museum in the Snow © moleitau (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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