VISIT: Greenwich Park, London
Located on the southern bank of the Thames, Greenwich is one of London’s most popular destinations, and one of my personal favourites. For lovers of history and Georgian architecture, it’s a wonderful place to visit (or live!). Greenwich has excellent associations with the Tudors (Elizabeth), England’s fascinating maritime history, as well as being the home of the Prime Meridian line. Georgian townhouses and Victorian mews line it's streets, some still cobbled, making Greenwich spectacularly picturesque and quintessentially British. One of the most wonderful things about Greenwich is that it can be a different experience each time you visit. If you’re planning a day out, you could choose to visit The Cutty Sark, or head to The Planetarium, or perhaps a tour of the National Maritime Museum. There is a vast array of sites of interest here.
However, with so many attractions, it’s no wonder this leafy enclave is brimming with sightseers, shoppers, tourists and anyone wanting a perfectly Instagram-able day out. The busy high street is jam-packed with restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops and several charming retail stores. It is also packed with an incredible amount of foot traffic at weekends resulting in queues and wait times to dine, as well as narrow streets that are often awkward to navigate with a buggy or young children prone to running off. There are some 'quirky' British pie shops, but if you're not fussed about ticking off a tourists' checklist, keep on walking. A spacious sanctuary is only a short walk away from the madness and mayhem you’ve just endured.
Greenwich park was designed to be enjoyed. Popular with families, groups of friends and joggers alike, it’s another of London’s excellent green spaces. Shady avenues and sun-drenched fields make it a perfectly suitable spot to enjoy a picnic for the whole family.
Covering a luxurious 183 acres, it is also one of the city's most spacious. There is an incredible amount of room for bike riding or scooters, as well as kicking a ball or playing with a frisbee. Even on the sunniest of days, when the park fills up with pleasure-seekers, it never feels too busy. There is always space to lay out your picnic rug and loll about for a relaxing afternoon while the children run around.
The park also boasts a fantastic children's playground filled with climbing frames, cubby houses and swings, all set in an enclosed green setting. It is also close by to a few local pubs welcoming of young families should you find yourself in need of some afternoon refreshment.
While here, it is always worth the stroll up to Observatory Hill. The view is spectacular! The panorama includes the National Maritime Museum with London's own mini-metropolis Canary Wharf looming behind it, St Paul's Cathedral in the distance. It serves as a poignant reminder of just how diverse, ancient and modern a city London truly is. And let us not forget that it's from here that you'll have the best roly-polies down the hill when the mood strikes.
My top tips to help you enjoy your visit...
If the weather permits, avoid the cafe scene and enjoy a picnic. If possible, bring your own supplies, or stop in a neighbouring area to pick up what you need. On sunny days, the local supermarkets often have long queues, are low on hummus and chilled wine. Not worth the risk!
Public loos are located in the children's playground and inside the old Royal Observatory. There are also a few nearby pubs that are friendly to parents in need of their facilities.
Please do use public transport if you can. Parking is horrendous! I cannot stress that enough.
It is also really worth mentioning that, being so close to the Thames, it can get rather windy and chilly on cooler days. Pack an extra layer just in case.Address: Charlton Way, SE10 8QY
Opening Hours: 6am-9pm (during the summer months)
Facilities: Public loos are located near the children's playground, inside the old Royal Observatory and there are several pubs nearby sympathetic to families with babies and children.
Access: Plenty of wide, open pathways for easy access for buggies and wheelchairs
Transport: Greenwich is brilliantly serviced by London's public transport network. Please check the TFL website to plan your journey. Avoid driving if possible. Parking is difficult on busy days.