How much is it? Free
What age is it suitable for? Any
Where is it? Various
Lots of Londoners are complaining about the weather or lack of summer, but I'm sure most newsletter readers actually prefer mid-20s temperatures without too much sun. It's so much easier to get out and about with the baby without worrying about them overheating or getting sunburned, and it means you can be more confident doing things like heading out for a picnic.
Here are a few great spots around London that are particularly good for those with little ones in tow - some are good parks to go to especially for a picnic, and others are just good green spaces to rest in when you're in central London and may want a little quiet and a snack before moving on with your day.
- Victoria Park
I'm extremely biased since Victoria Park is both my local park and my favourite in London. It's big enough for people to spread out, even when it's a busy, sunny Saturday. It's got great vibes, and very importantly for this post, it has toilets with baby changing facilities and a fantastic playground for toddlers and older children.
2. Claremont Park
This is one of London's newer parks based in Brent Cross, this space has toilets with baby changing facilities, a great playground, water features, nature trails, and plenty of lovely spots to settle down on a bench or on the grass. It's open from 7am-8pm, and there are plenty of free summer activities on until early September.
3. Battersea Park
Battersea Park has a wonderful range of activities, including beautiful gardens, picnic spots, playgrounds, and even a children's zoo. The playgrounds have been created to cater to all ages, even younger children and babies. The facilities include baby changing and there are a few cafes nearby for snacks or a larger lunch.
4. Guy Street Park
Guy Street Park is tiny and doesn't have the facilities of some other parks in this list, but it does have the benefit of being incredibly central with a view of the Shard. That means you can grab some bits and pieces from Borough Market, or you can find a spot to eat for free and even visit St Dunstan in the East and Skygarden nearby.
5. St Pancras Gardens
Another wonderfully central garden is St Pancras Gardens, 2 hectares of 19th century gardens with entrances on Pancras Road. The paths are lined with mature trees and there are monuments and graves dotted throughout the grounds (near the church). As with Guy Street Park, this smaller park doesn't have baby changing facilities but there are a lot of cafes nearby and it offers a free spot to stop and eat if you're in central London.
6. Radnor Street Gardens
Radnor Street Gardens are near Old Street and are a wonderful place to stop to eat if you've just been to Ironmonger Row Baths for a swim session with your little one. There's a small playground and a wealth of places to grab a bite nearby, but also offer a free spot to stop and relax before getting back onto the bus or tube.
7. Hyde Park
Hyde Park is definitely an obvious addition, but has a range of toilets, cafes, and lovely gardens including various lawns, wildflowers, and a rose garden to explore. The more adventurous visitors can take a boat on the Serpentine, and the rest of us can just feed our crusts to the birds.
Some quick tips on making baby-friendly picnics work:
- Start off small - a bought sandwich or small packed lunch totally counts as a picnic!
- Bring whatever you need to make feeding your baby simpler - it might make sense to bring along a small cushion to make breastfeeding easier on a bench, or just pre-pumping if you might feel self-conscious, or if your baby is anything like mine and gets distracted when outside.
- Setting up can be hard with a pram so you might want to forgo the usual blanket and spread and actually set up on a park bench. It also helps you to focus on shady spots to avoid having your baby out in the sun for too long.
- Your picnic doesn't have to be the main event - you might just want to stop somewhere quiet, green, and peaceful during another outing so that you can both have some food and recharge your batteries for your next activity or journey home.