This 350-acre Royal Park in the heart of London has no less than three children’s playgrounds, offering a range of facilities suitable for toddlers up to older kids. The Knightsbridge Barracks Playground is located just inside the park, down from Sloane Avenue, nearHarvey Nichols. It’s a great fenced playground with good equipment. If you are there at 10:15am, the Queen’s Household Cavalry may just gallop by on their way to the Changing of the Guard. Buck Hill Playground, or the Lancaster Gate Playground, is across from Lancaster Gate station. It’s a basic, fenced playground, with baby and regular swings, a climbing frame, slides and some balancing apparatus. Word has it that local parents meet regularly at 3.30pm each weekday and are friendly and helpful. Nearby are the Hyde Park Stables, where you can show your children the horses being groomed or getting ready to go out on rides. The third playground is close to Westbourne Gate and has similar facilities.
St James’s Park
Another beautiful Royal Park, St James’s has one playground, the Wellington Barracks Playground: It’s a delightful place for children, withan enormous sand pit with a stone bridge and a smaller, separate sand area for little ones. Swings, see-saw, climbing frame, slide, refreshment stand, children’s toilets and an attendant make this a great place to play. Also, the regimental bands warm up in the barracks across the way so you might get some tunes to liven your day.
There are two good playgrounds in Regent’s Park that fall into the Westminster section of the park. (The others are in the borough ofCamden.) Sandpits, swings, climbing frames and lots of other interesting equipment to challenge all ages make these great places to while away an afternoon. And of course, as well as the playgrounds, there are the 410 acres of the park to explore.
Causton Street Playground – Causton Street, London SW1P 4AT
This is popular playground for children aged 3-7, and even boasts a small paddling pool that’s open during the summer months. There’s also a sandpit and climbing frame, plenty of seats for adults and the park itself is beautifully landscaped. The playground has an attendant and toilets, and adults are only allowed in if they are accompanied by a child. The playground is easy to get to from Pimlico station or the buses on Vauxhall Bridge Road.
Paddington Street Gardens – Paddington Street, London W1U 5QA
A wonderful hidden gem in the heart of London, the Paddington Street Garden sits on both sides ofPaddington Street. The playground is in the lower section, and has really good equipment for children aged 3-11 years. Little ones will love the pretend phones, pretend shop and tunnels to crawl through. There’s also a small rock climbing wall and two sets of swings. Older children can choose from a large tyre swing, climbing rocks, three climbing frames and spinning toys. It’s shaded byLondonplane trees, which keep it cool in summer and also protect you from the rain!
Queens Park Gardens – Fourth Avenue / Ilbert Street London W10
The playground has equipment for 3 to 11-year olds, including a sandpit and all the regulars such as swings and climbing frames. As well as the play area, a new wildlife area has been created in the gardens, providing a haven for birds, butterflies, bats, beetles and lots more. It’s been designed in conjunction with the local community to incorporate hedgerows, trees, shrubs, tall grasses, wildflowers, woodpiles and a composting area. There are climbers and creepers to provide birds, small mammals and insects with food, shelter and place to breed. The Gardens are home to one of only four known colonies of house sparrow inWestminsterand it’s hoped that the wildlife garden will encourage them to breed and increase their numbers.
St John’s Wood Church Grounds – Wellington Place Wellington Road NW8 7PF
This park, a former burial ground laid out as a public garden, is a haven from the noisy world outside. The children’s playground has been recently refurbished, and has equipment for ages 3-11. There’s also a picnic area in the park, and part of the site is designated as a Local Nature Reserve.
Violet Hill Park – Violet Hill, London NW8 9EB
Close to Maida Vale tube station and the Edgware Road, this is an attractive and popular small traditional garden. It has a playground for 3 to 11-year olds, and newly refurbished toilets with baby changing facilities. The garden was built on the site of an old school in 1952, and opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in the same year.
Drury Lane Gardens – Drury Lane London WC2B 5TB
Located in the heart of London’s Theatreland, this gem of a park is somewhere for little ones to put on a different sort of play. It’s small but perfectly formed, and is divided into various zones containing a range of facilities. There’s seating area, a multi-sport court and a raised play area. The playground is suitable for children aged 3 – 7 years, and there is a children’s toilet.
Porchester Square Gardens – Porchester Square, Bayswater, W2 6AW
A small but very well used garden in the heart of densely populated Bayswater, one ofLondon’s most cosmopolitan neighbourhoods. It has a traditional formal garden with bedding displays and shrub borders, and a very popular children’s playground for ages 3 to 11 years.