With London’s ornate architecture and verdant gardens, I struggle to name many cities more beautiful on a fine summer’s day. That being said, once the temperature tops 25 and the sun is beating down; I, for one, begin to wilt and seek out a water source to play in. London certainly has its options in terms of water play, for the very young to the older and bolder, there are loads of options for outdoor water fun. Here are some suggestions to make a day of keeping the kids to cool this summer.
Hyde Park Lido and Paddling Pool:
Located on the south side of the Serpentine, the Hyde Park Lido is a wonderful place to take children on a warm day. There is a sun bathing and picnic area near the lido itself and a separate children’s area with a paddling pool, sand pit, climbing frame and bouncy toys. The children’s area is a bit of a sun trap, but there are shady areas along the bushes if you arrive early, or you can bring your own shade. June – September and generally has children’s entertainers during school holidays. The Lido is open 7 days a week , 10:00 – 18:00, £4 per adult, £3 concessions; children 3 – 15 £1 (must be accompanied by an adult); children under 3 are free.
Hampstead Heath Swimming Ponds and Lido
This is a perfect place to spend a hot summer’s day. Take a walk up Parliament Hill and enjoy the outdoor bathing ponds, an enormous outdoor pool or the adjacent paddling pool! You have your choice of deep or shallow; after you can amble around the Heath or play in the playgrounds … you will not want to go home at the end of the day. Open 7 days in summer months, 10:00 – 18:00, £4.40 per person or £12.80 per family.
Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, Hyde Park
This is a delightful place to take small children in warm weather. The fountain is basically a stone river bed holding a moving stream of water that ebbs and flows around in a circle. There are wide and narrow rushing rapids, tickly bubbles, waterfalls, steps, deep and shallow pools making different kinds of water terrain and a magical place for children to explore. Open 7 days, 10:00 – 20:00, free.
Coram’s Fields, Bloomsbury
Coram’s Field is a seven acre, open access playground in the heart of London. This magnificent haven for children is fenced in, with only one gate, making it the perfect place for mums to let their children run off and really play. The site boasts spacious grassy areas, several climbing frames, sand boxes with climbing apparatus, swings, animals in pens, sports fields and an adventure playground for older children. In the middle of the park is an enormous paddling pool for hot summer days. If a safe, varied playground were not enough, there is an amazing coffee stand that specialises in Austrian baked goods at a very reasonable price. Open 7 days, 9:00 – 20:00, free, adults must be accompanied by children.
The Oasis, Holborn
The Oasis is an outdoor swimming pool right in the heart in London. To be honest, it is not a great place to take small children as it is more of a traditional lap pool. The water is deep and not that much fun for an adult and child to play in as you are really only able to mill around in the shallow end of a swimming lane. However, it is handy if you are near-by and are desperate to cool off. Open 6:30 – 22:00 Mon – Fri, 9:30 – 18:00 Sat & Sun, £4.05 per adult.
Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground, Kensington Gardens
This is one great place for any kind of play. An enormous pirate ship! Tipis! Musical instruments! Sand pits filled with boats! Swings! A café! In the warm weather, children may pump water from specially designed taps, fill their sand pails and make mud, waterfalls, puddles … whatever their fancy. The water play area has all kinds of interesting crevices and areas to play with water without any risk of drowning. Open 7 days, 10:00 – 19:45 during summer months, free, adults must by accompanied by children.
The Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington
The V & A is secretly an incredibly child-friendly museum. There are changing facilities in loads of toilets – Gents and Ladies; highest quality crafts activities for Drop-in Design Sundays; and paddling pool in the courtyard that young and old alike are welcome to splash. Great coffee and snacks to purchase outside or you can bring your own. Open 7 days, 10:00 – 17:30, free.
Causton Street Playground (near Tate Britain), Pimlico
This very innocuous playground is a great destination on warm sunny mornings, the afternoons it is busy and generally overrun with school kids. Beautifully landscaped, it is place to enjoy an enormous sand pit, a nice climbing frame and a good sized paddling pool that you will basically have to yourself on a mid-week morning. Also, this playground is a short walk to Tate Britain. Open 7 days, free.
Enjoy Great Fountains:
Duke of York Square, Chelsea: The fountains in the Duke of York Square are great fun and perfect places to let little ones get really wet. You can chase your children around the various fountains while enjoying ice creams and coffee from the near-by shops. Open 7 days, free.
Russell Square, Bloomsbury: This is a wonderful place to park yourself on a bench and watch the children cool off. The fountain is located in the centre of Russell Square far from the roads or any other dangers. Pack a picnic and enjoy the relative peace of the grassy square. Open 7 days, 7:30 – 22:00, free.
Somerset House Fountains: The iconic 55 fountains of the Somerset House Courtyard Admission to the courtyard is free, open 7 days, 10:00 – 23:00.