Days out are brilliant for children…they will remember them and learn far more from going somewhere and doing something than they will staring at the TV at home. As summer is definitely here and I have been looking for activities to do with two small children, I thought I would share some enjoyable and free(ish) things which I have found to do in South East London when the sun is shining. They are free (apart from the cost of the occasional ice cream, travel, monkey nuts and/or a kite).
1. Get wet at Belvedere splash park
We only discovered this place yesterday and my daughters loved it.
Entrance to the park is free and there are toilets and a refreshments kiosk on site. This is brilliant on a hot day…the water jets are cool and fun to play in and there are plenty of benches and grassy areas around the wet area to supervise from (and to eat ice cream in). Parking around the park is a bit limited, though, so it might be best to use public transport (buses stop right outside the gate). The site is open 11-5pm from June to September (apart from Mondays when the park is cleaned). More information can be found here:
2. Feed the squirrels in Greenwich Park
The squirrels here are very keen on monkey nuts and will happily take them from your hand if you sit very still while they approach (might be a good way to learn about being patient). Most of the squirrels hang out in the trees near the deer enclosure at the Blackheath end of the park (the area to the east of the Blackheath Avenue entrance). There are also many ice cream opportunities in Greenwich Park and one of the best views in London from the top of the hill next to the Royal Observatory.
3. Have a picnic in Danson park, Bexleyheath
This is a lovely park with a large boating lake, great kids’ playground (with water jets in the summer) and vast grassy areas with picnic potential. Sometimes there are family events happening in sections of the park too and there are loos and a food & drink kiosk by the playground. If you don’t fancy making a picnic, the food at The Stables pub near the main car park is lovely and the pub is child-friendly (the benches outside are also a good place to watch the sun setting at the end of a warm summer’s day).
4. Fly a kite on Blackheath
There are no power lines or overhead obstructions on Blackheath and the open space is quite exposed, so it is a great place to fly a kite. Sometimes there are people flying stunt kites in formation…they are very impressive to watch if you happen to catch them practicing. The open area on Blackheath is also very close to the Greenwich Park entrance, so kite flying can be merged with a squirrel-feeding trip. You can park in the Greenwich Park car park (Blackheath Avenue) or on the road by the duck pond near the Princess of Wales pub (pay and display), or there is free parking on St German’s Place. The Princess of Wales pub on the southern edge of the Heath is also child-friendly in the daytime and makes good food…it has a nice beer garden behind it too.
5. Go for a walk on the London Loop
I recently found out that there is an ‘M25 for pedestrians’… It is a series of walks which orbit London and includes lovely footpaths through hidden pockets of countryside, marshland with rare plants and animals living in them and routes past historic landmarks, so there is plenty to look at and discuss with children as you walk. It has been broken up into short walks (more information and the maps can be found here: http://www.walklondon.org.uk/route.asp?R=5). You might need to plan in places to stop for toilet breaks, though, and take snacks and drinks with you in case you end up with an “I need a weeeee!” or “I’m hungry!” situation.