VISIT: Crystal Palace Dinosaurs, London
A beautiful window of time exists during the early years of childhood in which dinosaurs reign supreme. It is a time in which we parents also get to journey to the prehistoric world, marvelling at these phenomenal creatures. So, you can imagine what an absolute treasure Crystal Palace Park is for London's residents. It is one of the city's most unique green spaces, filled with exploration and wonder.
Set amongst sprawling parkland, the exhibit was created during the expansion of London in the Victorian era. Tired of congested streets and increasing pollution, the city's residents often sought the fresh air of the leafy suburban enclaves that hugged London's city border. The dinosaurs themselves are a sign of that time, and represent that era in which scientific discoveries were being made, including many discoveries of prehistoric life on earth. While not anatomically correct, the sculptures' height and size are no doubt impressive, especially to young children, and have greatly benefited from a recent restoration project, ensuring they are enjoyed for many years to come.
The parks atmosphere varies with the weather. On a bright spring or summers' day, full of the bloom and green that those seasons afford, the park is bursting with vigour; plant, animal and human. But even on a cold winter's day, when few visitors are present, there's a beautiful moody feel to the place; branches stripped bare, allowing for the sight of red-breasted robins flitting between trees.
Depending on the time of year, and the amount of current/recent rainfall, I highly recommend taking wellies, a puddlesuit (for the vigorous jumpers amongst you) and a change of clothes. The walkways can get rather muddy, and while jumping in puddles is something to be savoured, wet socks and beyond are not. Although the park provides plenty of step-free access, the terrain is uneven in parts making for a bumpy journey for buggies with wheels designed for city streets.
To the west of the sculptures is a decent sized playground and plenty of flat grassland, some of which falls under the shade of trees should you happen to visit on a hot day, plus loads of room to kick a ball. While there is a lovely cafe at Crystal Palace train station, we always pack a lunch to enjoy a picnic, and to be able to stroll around the grounds, stopping when little legs become weary. Entry to the park is free, and is easily accessible on London's overground and National Rail as well as several bus services. The park also includes public restroom facilities.
Address: Crystal Palace Park, Thicket Road, London, SE19 2GA
Opening hours: Vary depending on time of year. For more information click here.
Facilities: Picnic area, sports fields, accessible public restroom
Access: Step-free access
Transport: Crystal Palace station, London Overground. Please visit TFL to plan your trip.
I've written a post about dinosaur books we love. For some fantastic recommendations for children of varying ages, please click here.