London: 5 Less-famous Parks Where You can Relax with the Locals
On those rare and wonderful days when the sun does shine, there is no better place to enjoy it than in one of London’s parks.
Most visitors are already familiar with Hyde Park, Regent’s Park and Green Park, so we won’t waste time going through long explanations about how lovely they are. Instead, here are some tips to lovely outdoor spaces where you will find the locals lapping up the sunshine…
This lovely green space sits between lively Stoke Newington Church Street and the well-heeled streets of Highbury and has recently benefited from a massive regeneration program. The park has been totally cleaned up and is now the most family-friendly outdoor space in the area. Visitors can play tennis, picnic on the grass or eat at the beautifully restored Grade II listed Clissold House. Children will also be in their element with a fantastic playground, paddling pool in summer and even the chance to see goats, deer, colorful butterflies and birds in the animal shelters.
Stoke Newington Church Street
N16 5HJBus 73, 149, 475
Rail: Stoke Newington rail
Another sun trap loved by locals is this wonderful “secret garden” tucked away up the hill from West London’s Holland Park tube station. The park is made up of a woodland area, a more manicured “garden” type area, and is a great place for a picnic after you’ve pounded the streets at Portobello Market in nearby Notting Hill. The most mesmerizing part of the park is the Kyoto Garden, and if you’re there in the summer you may even catch some opera at the open air theater. If you want to experience the park after dark, consider staying at the YHA Youth Hostel , which is located inside the park.
Lichester Place, W8 6LU
Tube: Holland Park
The epicenter of East London during the summer, Victoria Park may have been around for almost two centuries, but it has never looked better – thanks to the recent restoration by the council. The park is bordered by endless, trendy bars and shops and its proximity to London’s Olympic stadium means it will be buzzing with events in summer 2012.
Grove Road, E3 5SN
Tube: Bethnal Green or Mile End
One of London’s better-known green spaces, it’s well worth the journey to the outskirts of the city to enjoy a sunny day in Richmond Park. The largest of London’s Royal Parks, it is packed with rolling hills, woodland, ponds and beautiful gardens, as well as over 600 free roaming deer. This is the ideal retreat if you fancy escaping the noise of the city for a day without traveling too far.
Surrey, TW10 5HS
Tube or overground: Richmond (then bus 371 or 65 to park entrance)
Ok, we’re sort of cheating here because Primrose Hill is technically part of Regent’s Park, however, this hidden corner is better known to locals than visitors and is easily reached from the buzzy North London neighborhoods of Camden, Chalk Farm and Belsize Park. The top of the hill offers spectacular views of the city. Best of all, you don’t have to pay a penny for it. Be sure to explore the pretty row of shops and cafes leading up to the park along Regent’s Park Road.
Regent’s Park Road, NW3 3NA
Tube: Chalk Farm
Other parks worth exploring in London…
Hampstead Heath – You could literally spend days exploring this well-known and mostly untouched woodland area. Come for an open-air concerts during the summer. Tube: Hampstead / Bus: 210
Clapham Common – The most popular outdoor spot in South London, the Common plays host to many summertime festivals. Tube: Clapham Common
Highbury Fields – Offers lovely open space at the Highbury end of Upper Street. Play a spot of tennis or picnic on the green while admiring some of London’s most beautiful townhouses which overlook the fields. Tube: Highbury & Islington
Waterlow Park – If you’re exploring pretty Highgate Village then duck into Waterlow Park for a breath of fresh air. Tube: Archway
Wandsworth Common – A popular South London picnic spot and a lovely open space to enjoy the sunshine. Overground: Wandsworth Common