What? Huge, Peter Pan-inspired playground for kids who don’t want to grow up. Opened in 2000 in memory of the late Princess of Wales and designed for ages 0-12, this lush and leafy corner of Kensington Gardens attracts 1,000,000 visitors every year thanks to its picturesque surroundings, central location and imaginative construction. The littlest guests will have a ball playing house in the under-threes village, which comprises a series of tiny wooden huts, a see-saw and spring bouncers, while bigger kids can run amok in the huge adventure playground, consisting of rope bridges, ladders and treetop slides.
In the centre of the space is a huge pirate ship to hijack, surrounded by a soft and sandy beach and several water fountains. If, like mine, your child is obsessed with water, be sure to pack a change of clothes and/or a swimsuit if you’re going anywhere near the fountain, and prepare to get pretty soaked yourself if you’ve got tinies who need close supervision. Bab basically spent our entire visit straddling the fountain while I endured a small child named Isaac pelting me and my new cream trousers with gross sandy pond water to the point where said trousers went see-through and I had to wander round with my Bagpuss knickers showing for the rest of the afternoon because I didn’t pack spares. Let this be a lesson to you.
If you’re looking for somewhere a bit more chilled then the park’s famous wigwams are a great place to escape the heat and enjoy a picnic, though make sure you bring a rug or the wood-chip floor will literally get up everyone’s bum. The sensory trail is also very zen and lovely, consisting of a maze-like channel of small, secluded areas housing things like giant xylophones, play sculptures and solar audio posts, all designed to awaken the senses and encourage thoughtful play.
Where?: Kensington Gardens, in the far north-west corner of Hyde Park. Queensway (Central) is a three-minute walk and Bayswater (Circle, District) is five.
Best Bits: There really is something for everyone in this magical playground, including plenty of chill-out space for when everything gets a bit much and you just want to kick back with a Mini Milk.
Worst Bits: This is a pretty popular spot, particularly on sunny days and weekends when visitors can expect to queue for up to an hour to get in.
Facilities: The playground has toilet and baby-change facilities and a nice cafe selling sandwiches, drinks and ice creams. There is also someone on the gate making sure it doesn’t get overcrowded and that no one not in possession of an under-12 enters.
Would We Come Back?: While this is lovely and everything, Bab is too young to find playgrounds any more exciting than any other indiscriminate patch of grass we might happen across and since I personally find literally any other part of Hyde Park preferable to a playground full of screaming children it’s a no – at least until Bab is old enough to pester me to take her.
Bab commandeers a wooden hut in the under-threes area at the Diana Memorial Playground, Kensington Gardens