A trip to London can be exhausting for adults and kids; the walking, the queuing, the fighting for space in the museums and attractions - we all need some time out during the day to unwind and rest our minds. While a drink and a sit down may be good enough for adults, kids need some space where they can run around, clamber over things and make a noise. Here we list the playparks which my son has tried and tested, and thinks are good enough to recommend to other kids. We will add to this as we try more of them!
Our trips to London can be quite epic adventures - we day trip by train as we are lucky enough to live just 90 minutes away, but when we are there I like to pack in as much as I can. Most of our trips involve about 5 miles of walking minimum: I like to avoid the tube as you miss so much that way. While my son enjoys the trips with the museums and attractions, he also needs time away from it all; time where he isn't being buffeted by crowds, or forced to learn things in a museum; he needs to just run around and be a kid. I sit, exhausted, wondering in astonishment where he gets the energy from, while he tries out the swings, roundabouts and other amenities on offer.
Tower Hill Gardens - Opposite the Tower of London
This small playpark is currently in the Number One spot. Right next to the Roman wall, with views over the Tower of London and the Thames, this play park is good for kids both small and tall, with an excellent slide and a fantastic roundabout. There are enough shady areas for the adults to sit on the assorted large rocks on offer, and plenty of people-watching opportunities as you sit and watch your kids let off steam after an often epic visit to the Tower of London.
Jubilee Park - near the London Eye and Waterloo
This park is a popular one, near the Thames and the busy South Bank centre. It has a huge wooden climbing frame, slides, cargo nets, an area for smaller kids and some spinny things that the kids queue at for ages to have a go. There is seating all around the outside for grateful parents and plenty of food stalls nearby. We visited early on a Saturday evening and it was packed with kids enjoying some fun in the sun, as well as rows of pigeons who were sitting on the top of the climbing frame looking down rather disdainfully on the noisy activities below.
Its close to the London Eye, the Sea Life Centre, the London Dungeons and also Waterloo, so is an ideal place to stop off before you catch a train home.
Bloomsbury Square - near the British Museum
This park is designed for younger kids, with an obstacle course, roundabout and bouncy surfboard. It is all very low level and on protective flooring, is surrounded by a hedge and can only be accessed by a gate, making it a safe place. There is good seating for the grown ups and plenty of shade under the trees. It was too young for my son, but is perfect for littlies.
Russell Square - near the British Museum
There is no proper play park here, but it is a lovely square and one which is much needed after a visit to the British Museum.
Large, leafy and with a choice of cafes, it also has a fountain in the middle which kids can play in - there were some there in swimsuits when we visited.
It is a lovely place for picnics, and there are plenty of benches under the trees to relax and get some air after a visit to the echoing chambers of the British Museum. Read more about Russell Square >>
Victoria Embankment Gardens - near Trafalgar Square
Victoria Embankment Gardens are large and packed with monuments to the great and the good, as well as the 400 year old York Watergate. None of this will impress kids, but younger kids will enjoy the small playpark. Older ones will like the green gym, just for the novelty factor, and there is also a couple of fishponds and a bandstand where live events and music are often held. It is a good place to visit after the carnage of Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden, all of which can be a bit overwhelming for kids as they are often heaving with people. There are lots of green places to just sit and rest, as well as a café.