Looking for a family day out that won’t break the bank? Here’s five of our top picks for family fun this summer – and best of all, they’re completely free!
Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground
Jump aboard Captain Hook’s pirate ship and let your imagination fly in this fantastic Peter Pan-inspired adventure playground! With a beach, teepees, a sensory trail, toys and play sculptures, this fantastic adventure playground will keep young explorers entertained for hours. Surrounded by trees and plush plants, and with plenty of seating available, tired parents will enjoy a trip here, too! Located less than a mile away from the Mercure Hyde Park, a visit here is a must.
Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
Perhaps one of the most well-known events in London, the Changing of the Guard is attended by scores of people every year – and it’s not hard to see why. This colourful military tradition, also known as Guard Mounting, sees the Queen’s guard handing over responsibility for protecting Buckingham Palace. The ceremony has little changed since it began in 1660: watch the perfect precision of the guards, in their archetypal bearskin hats and red tunics, accompanied by music from a Regimental Band or Corps of Drums.
The ceremony starts at 11:00, and it is well worth getting there early to guarantee a good spot. Afterwards, why not feed the ducks in St James’s Park or have a picnic in Green Park?
Regent’s Canal Path
In 2020, Regent’s Canal will be 200 years old: walk in the footsteps of two centuries worth of travellers and explore the delights of this hidden world. Start in Little Venice, just a short walk away from the Mercure Hyde Park, and see the quaint, colourful narrowboats. Follow the canal along through Regent’s Park, where you will be dwarfed by London Zoo’s impressive aviary; and then continue along to the quirky craft stalls and clothes shops in Camden, the heart of London’s alternative culture. A perfect day out for the summer, download a free guide from the Canal River Trust’s website which will take you to secret spots and the best picnic points along the way.
Escape the chaos of central London by taking a breather in the lush greenery of Coram’s Fields – a short half-hour away from the Mercure Hyde Park. This seven acre playground is exclusively for children, and takes seriously its mantra, “no adult can enter without a child”. Ride a zip wire in the adventure playground, zoom down one of the largest slides in London, play in the witch’s hat swing, or pretend you’re at the beach in the two large sandpits and paddling pool. Afterwards, enjoy spreading out your picnic and relaxing on the two wide lawns. Catering for all, there is also a sensory and music area, as well as a wheelchair-friendly playground. If you’ve got time, make sure to visit the City Farm, Wildlife Garden and Sports Area, too.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Slightly further away in Stratford – but still a single tube ride – is the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Here, you can explore the sites of London’s 2012 Olympics – including the London Stadium, the London Aquatics Centre and Lee Valley VeloPark – or simply enjoy the parklands, playgrounds, waterways and plentiful cafes.
Not to be missed is the ArcelorMittal Orbit and The Slide. At 114.5m tall, the ArcelorMittal Orbit – designed for London’s 2012 Olympics – gives stunning views of the city’s famous landmarks. Get a bird’s eye view of the stadiums by walking over the walkway suspended 80m above the ground; and – if you dare – take the 40-second adrenaline-fuelled ride down The Slide, where you’ll experience London’s landmarks in an exhilarating new way, twisting, turning, and travelling up to 15 miles per hour! A word of advice: trips on The Slide sold out last summer, so it’s well worth booking in advance.
All five days out are an easy walk or tube ride away from the Mercure Hyde Park: book now and start planning your summer of fun!