29 ways to have fun outdoors in London this summer – for kids and grown ups alike – from city farms to horse riding, cycling, kayaking and tree top adventures
1. Hounslow Heritage Walk, Isleworth
Over 200 soldiers lost their lives at the Battle of Brentford, while Vincent Van Gogh famously taught bible scripture along the riverside in Isleworth – you can visit both of these locations on a private guided Hounslow Heritage Walk where these tales serve as the lifeblood of the guided spectacle. Marvel at Syon House, Chiswick’s Palladian Villa, Boston Manor and Osterley House up close.
2. Hounslow Urban Farm
Make a day of it and take the whole family on a trip to Hounslow Urban Farm. It’s a little slice of country bliss inside a city landscape and gives west Londoners a chance to get away from it all for a second. Set across an impressive 29 acres, it’s one of London’s largest community farms with resident pigs, goats, cows, rabbits, ducks, geese, alpacas and even peacocks ready to become your furry friends. Let the kids enjoy pony rides while you master the art of owl handling.
Faggs Road TW14 0LZ; hounslowurbanfarm.co.uk
3. Holland Park’s Adventure Playground
Take your family outdoor activities a step further at Holland Park’s Adventure Playground. The kids can hit the ground running with their aerial runway, mini climbing wall and climbing frames. The park boasts more than 22 acres of sports areas, gardens and woodlands full of wildlife. Once you’ve exhausted yourselves, kick back in the Japanese Kyoto Garden and grab some grub from the on site café.
Holland Park W8 6LU; rbkc.gov.uk
4. Ravenscourt Park
Gather the brood for a day out in Ravenscourt Park as soon as the sun begins to smile this month. From 13 acres of lush green space, playgrounds and nature walks to idyllic spots for picnics and a great set of sports facilities, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Dust off your best tennis arm in one of their courts or get your ball game on with their Astroturf football pitch or netball courts.
16 Ravenscourt Avenue W6 0SL; lbhf.gov.uk
5. Adrenalin Rush Laser Combat
This one’s for the bolshie boys and girls that are not afraid to think fast on their feet. At Adrenalin Rush Laser Combat it’s every man for himself with an outdoor base camp that’s dotted with giant tractor tyres, oil drums, buildings and abandoned cars for hiding, like a video game. It’s all safe fun with harmless infrared firing guns!
Kings House School Sports Ground, Riverside Drive W4 3SH; arush.co.uk
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6. Stroll Through Margravine Cemetry
It may seem slightly on the macabre side, but a stroll through Margravine Cemetry is a must do. Aside from being a fascinating historic cemetery, its grounds are also home to a plethora of wildlife, flora and fauna, as well as three listed memorials. It’s an ideal spot for bird watching and changes beautifully with the seasons.
Margravine Gardens W6 8RL; margravinecemetery.org.uk
As the weather heats up, why not enjoy a leisurely lap or two at Richmond Pools in the Park with a shimmering view of Old Deer Park in the sunlight in full view. Get on track with your summer fitness by getting in a few laps before work or opt for one of their Aqua Fit classes. You can have fun for all the family at Richmond Pools in the Park or enjoy it alone to unwind, zen out and re-centre.
Old Deer Park TW9 2SF; 020 3772 2999; richmond.gov.uk
SOUTH WEST LONDON
8. Horse Riding at Stag Lodge Stables, Richmond Park
Suitable for children as young as four and teenagers as old as 18, Shetland pony and horse riding at Stag Lodge Stables is the perfect way to keep your offspring active and outdoors. From getting tiny tots comfortable with horses and introducing them to their first rides to helping young adults master jumps and dressage, Stag Lodge Stables does it all.
Robin Hood Gate SW15 3RS; staglodgestables.com
9. Deer Spotting in Richmond Park
Make the most of the former deer hunting ground of Richmond Park this month. It still has over 650 wild red and fallow deer living free in its vast expanses of grass, foliage and ancient trees. Known for its impressive collection of historic oaks and endangered fungi, as well as a number of rare beetles. A day exploring nature in Richmond Park will leave you all the wiser about nature. Please do keep your distance from the deer though – at least 50 metres. They are wild animals after all!
TW10 5HS; royalparks.org.uk
10. Horse Riding at Village Stables in Wimbledon
At The Village Stables in Wimbledon riders can experience a rural community atmosphere while still in London, and enjoy scenic rides over Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park. Established for over 30 years, it’s an award-winning British Horse Society Approved Training Centre for beginners and experienced equestrians alike. It offers individual lessons and tailor-made courses, as well as a pioneering ‘Equicise’ simulator.
24 High Street SW19 5DX; wvstables.com
11. Go Ape, Battersea Park
Swing through the trees and experience new heights at Go Ape, London’s very own urban jungle in leafy Battersea Park. As the weather starts to warm up, what better way to experience the great outdoors than by climbing ropes and whizzing past the tall trees on zip lines? The obstacles and crossings are sure to challenge even the most daring adventurers.
Battersea Park SW11 4NJ; 0333 331 4987; goape.co.uk
12. Take a Helicopter Tour of London
Get a new perspective and tour London from above with the London Helicopter Tour – a real treat, and an unusual way to experience the city outdoors. There are multiple packages available, for both individuals and groups. London Helicopter Tours also support the Air Ambulance, so if you want to donate, London Helicopter will match your donation to make an even bigger impact. The world’s at your feet.
The Pod Building, Bridges Court, Battersea SW11 3BE; thelondonhelicopter.com
13. Take a Kayaking Tours of Thames
The Kayaking London centre offers adventures for all abilities. It’s a community facility with an active and inclusive programme, and is the biggest provider of guided kayaking tours on the Thames. A high standard of coaching is delivered by experienced, qualified guides. Splash-proof gear is provided to keep you warm and dry. While you’re there, the botanical garden of Cremorne Gardens is worth a look.
Cremorne Riverside, Lots Road SW10 0QH; rbkc.gov.uk
14. Go Ape, Alexandra Palace
The Go Ape empire is expanding. One of the newest Go Ape locations in the UK, Alexandra Palace has served as one of the most impressive parks in London for a while, offering great views of the London landscape. With Tree Top Junior having opened in March, and Tree Top Adventure set to follow in July, your restless children will be spoilt for choice. From tree hung walkways, tunnels, bridges and a 43m zip wire finale, they won’t want to leave.
Alexandra Palace Way N22 7AY; goape.co.uk
15. Run Around at Barnard Park
Barnard Park boasts great sports facilities and an adventure playground. As the weather heats up, the water play feature will come in handy for keeping the kids cool and entertained. If you can handle the potential family fall out, have a game of football or basketball on their full sized redgra pitch (a kind of clay-like surface).
Copenhagen Street N1 0ER; islington.gov.uk
16. Harry Potter London Bus Tour
From visiting King’s Cross Station’s iconic platform 9 and ¾, to discovering the Leaky Cauldron’s multiple locations, the Harry Potter London Bus Tour will take you to every London location linked to the cult franchise. Let your little ones marvel at the real 12 Grimmauld Place, beaming from ear to ear. There’s also a walking tour, starting from Westminster Station and retracing the journey taken by Harry and Mr Weasley on their visit to The Ministry of Magic.
17. Visit Woodberry Wetlands
The Woodberry Wetlands came to life as a wildlife reservoir in the 1800s and is now a budding urban wetland oasis, home to the likes of Kingfishers, swallows, butterflies and even pipistrelle bats, as well as the laid-back Lizzy’s At The Coal House café.
New River Path N16 5HQ; woodberrywetlands.org.uk
18. Go Stand Up Paddlebaording
Paddleboarding is a fun and easy sport to learn and is therefore ideally suited to groups of friends wanting to try something new and exciting. It’s great for that core, too. Wakeupdocklands offers Paddlebaording lessons in the Docklands as well as special SUP sessions for fitness like SUPyoga classes and race training sessions. Active360 also runs Paddleboarding classes in Paddington Basin, Putney and Kew Bridge, while Moo Canoes offers paddleboard sessions and hire from Poplar Union.
19. Visit Hackney City Farm
With London now being home to a plethora of urban farms, gone are the days when you had to travel far and wide to experience a slice of farm life. Get little tots acquainted with pigs and other farm favourites at Hackney City Farm where they host a Mini Farmers’ Club every Saturday.
1a Goldsmiths Row E2 8QA; hackneycityfarm.co.uk
SOUTH EAST LONDON
20. The Views from Severndroog Castle
If you want an historical experience as well as an amazing view of London, then head to Severndroog Castle for a day out. Built on Shooter’s Hill, one of the highest points in London, it’s an 18th century castle that offers inquisitive visitors a cityscape and the opportunity to enjoy beautiful countryside scenery all at once. The surrounding woodland (Castle woods, part of Oxleas wood) is a lovely spot for a picnic and exploring afterwards.
Severndroog Castle, Castle Wood, Shooters Hill SE18 3RT; severndroogcastle.org.uk
21. Ride the London National Cycle Route
Enjoy a leisurely 2.5 mile bike ride through traffic-free paths with a scenic south east London National Cycle route. Starting out at New Beckenham rail station, the Waterlink Way will take you all the way to Deptford Creek and the Cutty Sark via Catford Bridge and the rivers Pool and Ravensbourne.
New Beckenham rail station BR3 1QW; bromley.gov.uk
22. Explore Chislehurst Caves
Time for an adventure? Take a guided tour of the atmospheric Chislehurst Caves. Tours leave every hour on the hour, and last for 45 minutes. The caves are a maze of man-made tunnels, originally used for chalk mining. Afterwards, head to the nearby Scadbury Nature Reserve.
Old Hill, Chislehurst BR7 5NL; chislehurst-caves.co.uk
23. British Military Fitness
Want to experience a new way of working out and capitalise on south London’s abundance of green space? British Military Fitness offers various workouts for all fitness levels, including beginners, and they have outdoor bootcamp classes in Greenwich Park, Blackheath, Dulwich, Peckham and across London.
For your nearest class see britmilfit.com
24. Peckham’s Rooftop Film Club
Sit back and relax at the Rooftop Film Club in Peckham with Italian food from the amazing Share a Slice Pizza and stunning skyline views. The experience is complete with comfortable director’s chairs, blankets and headphones. The bar opens at 5pm, and screenings kick off at sunset. Check out its sister venue at Roof East in Stratford too.
Bussey Building, 133 Rye Lane SE15 4ST; rooftopfilmclub.com
25. Amble about Crystal Palace Park
Originally a Victorian pleasure ground, Crystal Palace Park boasts a labyrinth of hedges and a herd of dinosaurs – what other London parks can boast such greatness? It’s home to the National Sports Centre and a number of other recreational activities and heritage features including a fishing lake, a children’s farm, a former boating lake, a café and those lovely, haunting Italian terraces.
Thicket Road SE19 2GA; bromley.gov.uk
26. Wild in the City, Croydon & Brockwell Park
Do you want to re-connect with nature? Wild in the City promotes activities including meditation and nature therapy to help you to develop awareness, creativity and new skills. Experience wildlife watching, nature walks, and den making, or join an organised hike out in Kent or Essex. The organisation also work to support black leadership in nature.
27. Picnic at Devonshire Road Nature Reserve
Escape the hustle of the city and embrace nature with a picnic at the Devonshire Road Nature Reserve. There’s walking trails and even meadows in which to unpack your hamper. If you’re keen to help out, there are numerous opportunities for volunteering. Why not indulge in a spot of gardening?
170 Devonshire Road SE23 3SZ; devonshireroadnaturereserve.org
28. Whizz round Herne Hill Velodrome
Run by cyclists for cyclists, the Herne Hill Velodrome is one of the oldest cycling tracks in the world, built in 1891. The track is 450m long, with the steepest part of the banking at 30 degrees. The 1958 Olympic venue is available to all ages. You can also have a go at bike polo, or head off mountain biking.
104 Burbage Road, Herne Hill SE24 9HE; hernehillvelodrome.com
29. Hang out at Lewisham Model Market
When the weather improves, foodies flock to Lewisham Model Market to enjoy a winning combination of food and fun in the sunshine. There are a variety of street food traders offering up the likes of burgers and jerk chicken, as well as three bars and there’s often live music at weekends too.
196 Lewisham High Street SE13 6LS; streetfeast.com
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