My recent trip to London was great fun, with the added bonus of incredible weather: long days of sunshine and warm temperatures. Perfect for enjoying the many fine parks found there. Fortunately, my two young traveling companions, aged seven and eleven, shared my own personal interest in parks and especially playgrounds. We visited every playground we could find, and what we found was that London offers some great places to play. The large and well-known Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens lived up to it's reputation, with a sand beach and water play, huge pirate ship and a variety of nooks and crannies to explore. The playground is not only fun for the kids, it's also a pleasant place for parents, with places to relax in a garden-like setting.
The girls also had a great time at the Holland Park Adventure Playground, which has a wide variety of moving elements, including several different types of swings and spinners, and platforms suspended on cables that all bounce and jiggle when kids (and their parents) jump on them. It also has one of the long zip-lines that we found in many of London's parks. With so many interactive things to do, the girls couldn't help but make friends among the children of many nationalities who visit the park. It was interesting to see how the kids all quickly figured out how to cooperate to make things spin faster and go farther, even when they didn't speak the same language.
In Kew Gardens we found a number of fantastic interpretive playgrounds, including one inside a greenhouse (especially popular in the wet weather London is famous for, I'm sure) and several natural play areas built around the concepts of photosynthesis, the food chain, and other natural processes. Lots of great ideas for combining play, learning, and nature can be found at Kew Gardens.
London's playgrounds were among the highlights of our trip, offering the girls a way to burn off some youthful energy, interact with people their own age, and maybe even learn a little about the environment while we grownups enjoyed a shady spot to take a break from the rigors of sightseeing. They make a great city even better.
July 16th, 2010