10 best outdoor things to do in Westminster
Feed some Pelicans, catch a solar-powered boat, roar up the Thames or go on a tennis course - there are some great outdoor times to be had with your kids in Westminster.
Pelicans, St James's Park
St James's Park is beautiful with plenty of space for picnics and games, but its real draw for kids is the Pelicans, which were first introduced in 1664 as a gift from the Russian Ambassador. Go and see the Pelicans basking on their favourite rocks and make sure you're there at 2.30pm when the park keepers feed the birds their daily fish. There are currently five Pelicans in the Park, all very friendly, and your kids will love their antics - they can often be persuaded to climb out of the lake to sit on the benches alongside visitors!
Visit the St James's Park website
SolarShuttle, The Boat House, Hyde Park
Enjoy a cruise on the UK's first SolarShuttle, which glides silently across the water powered only by the sun. If you've got a boat-crazy kid who loves playing at being a Captain, the boat even has two extra ship's wheels so that children can enjoy trying their hand at the bridge for the trip! The SolarShuttle travels between the Diana, Princess Of Wales Memorial Fountain, which is on the south side of the Serpentine and where there is a car-park, to the new Boat House on the northern edge of the lake near the newly-refurbished Dell restaurant.
Visit the SolarShuttle website
Brownhart Gardens are a closely-guarded Mayfair secret, with a private terrace open to the general public. It's a little spot of heaven close to Selfridges on Oxford St, and it's a great place to take the kids if they're bored of shopping. You can sit on a bench while your kids run about, or you may be lucky and catch one of the regular free events such as classical music concerts, open air theatre and the annual children‘s fun day. Information on the Gardens is fairly limited, but start by looking at Westminster council's website
Royal College of Physicians Garden, NW1
The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) is the oldest medical college in England. Since its foundation by Henry VIII the RCP has built up a magnificent collection of books, manuscripts, portraits and medical artefacts. This may all sound a little bit worthy, but the RCP holds a wide range of events for families, including workshops about the Great Plague of 1665 to life drawing classes. The gardens are also worth a visit, and while tours are available, with the kids in tow you might prefer to let them run about, albeit quietly.
Serpentine Lido, Hyde Park
If you and your kids are more than a little wild, take an open-air dip in the heart of Hyde Park. The Serpentine is a 28-acre recreational lake within the park, which has been chilling swimmers since 1730. You'll be sharing your space with other slightly mad people and a few ducks. Warm up at the lakeside cafe afterwards. There's even a children's paddling pool and playground, if the swim hasn't tired them out. If swimming isn't your thing there's a 'beach' where you can sunbathe while the kids have a splash.
Check out prices and opening times for the Lido on the Royal Parks website
Open Air Theatre
The Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is the only permanent professional outdoor theatre in Britain. Its steeply raked auditorium is one of the largest in London with 1,240 seats. Each summer night an amazing atmosphere is created by the buzz of people enjoying themselves watching the performance, while setting up hampers on the picnic lawn as the fairy lights twinkle in the trees. Most of the performances are aimed at adults, but at least one per season is aimed at families.
Find out about the latest performances at the theatre by visiting the Open Air Theatre website.
ZSL London Zoo
The world-famous London Zoo is an expensive, but brilliant day out for your kids andy ou!It has won many awards for tourism and conservation-most recently voted London's Best Tourism Experience 2010 in the Visit London Awards. Aside from the almost 750 species of animal the Zoo has a number of special features including the recently opened Penguin Beach-England’s biggest penguin pool. If your child is a budding conservationist, future vet or simply an animal lover, then this is the place for you.
For opening times, prices, location and interactive games for children, visit theZSL London Zoo website
The Regent's Park
The Regent's Park is an enormous (410 acres) expanse of greenery in the very heart of London. Aside from beautiful rose gardens, walks and picnicking areas, there are also four playgrounds and a special kids' boating lake. If your kids are sporty look no further than The Hub - the largest outdoor sports centre in Central London, which is also located inside the park. There are year-round, and holiday-only sports classes and courses for kids including football, dance and rugby.
Visit the Royal Parks website for more information aboutThe Regent's Park
Paddington Recreation Ground
If you're out and about in the Paddington area of Westminster and your kids need to burn off some steam, take them to the Paddington Rec. It's a park with fitness centre, plus a kids playground, numerous sports pitches and a nature trail. When you all get tired and hungry from running about there's a lovely cafe within and outdoor seating. If you're also looking for sports camps for your kids's school holidays the rec also runs junior hockey,tennis,football, cricket and athletics camps,which are all extremelyr easonably priced.
Viist the website for more information on the Paddington Recreation Ground
Thames Clippers River Thames boat trips
Thames Clippers carry over 7000 passengers per day up and down the Thames from Millbank in the west to Woolwich in the east. Boats operate all day everyday, and there's no need to book unless you're travelling with a large group. Hop on at Millbank and visit The London Eye, Greenwich, Canary Wharf, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, Tate Britain and Tate Modern. The boats are large and fast and kidsare, in our experience,thrilled by the ride alone. An added bonus for grown-ups is the on-board coffee shop, where wine and beer are also available...
Visit the Thames Clippers website