As much as we love days out in Essex, it does have to be said that one of the perks of where we live is proximity to London. As someone who spent nearly a decade living in London, I still have a great affection for the city but no desire to live there any more, so being able to get into London by train in an hour is great. Normally when we go into London we tend to go to some of the bigger, more touristy attractions, it’s easy to forget that London has some great green spaces too: you’ve got to love a well kept London lawn!
I thought I would list some of my favourite London parks. These aren’t necessarily the obvious ones, so maybe it will give you some good ideas for a day out further afield!
- Greenwich Park: I spent many years living in South London, and pre-kids, Greenwich Park was always a favourite. Beautiful hilly views over London, but a feeling of being a little separate to the hustle and bustle. The observatory at the top of the park, Cutty Sark and maritime museums nearby are obvious attractions, but you don’t even have to commit to going inside, just a wander around is a lovely day out.
- Horniman Museum and Gardens: a real hidden gem in Forest Hill, so slightly off the beaten track for some, but really worth a visit. The museum has a real old fashioned feel to it, and the 16 acres gardens are lovely for a picnic. Plus it’s free!
- Hampstead Heath: much better known, but has a very different feel to a lot of London parks. It’s nowhere near as manicured, giving it a very rural charm. As you gaze down upon the rest of London, it can really feel like you are in something quite poetic.
- Regents Park: at the other end of the scale is Regent’s Park. This is probably what you’d think of as being more typical of the London Royal Parks, but it is a beauty, with gardens, a lake with a heronry, waterfowl and a boating area, sports fields and numerous playgrounds. It also houses London Zoo, so you can occasionally get a peek of an animal as you’re wandering through!
- Brockwell Park: another South London park, close to Brixton and perhaps a bit of a trek for those who don’t know the area. Worth it for the many events and the lido: especially good on a hot day!
- Kensington Palace Gardens: a lovely open space with a fantastic playground. Also a stone’s throw from the South Kensington museums, so a great option for lunch and a run around if you have spent the morning doing important museum things!
- Crystal Palace Park: It has dinosaurs. Do I need to say any more?
- Lastly, I must give a shout out to our very own Epping Forest, technically in London though part of Essex too. This is London’s largest park and really feels like you are in the middle of nowhere at times. Lots to do, and as my dad would say, look out for The Beast!