London day trips for you and your baby

Green Park and St James’s Park

Posted by on Wednesday, 30 May, 2012 in Featured, Parks, Sunny day

Green Park and St James’s Park

At last! Summer is here (even if it may have departed again by the time I publish this post) and so what could be better than a picnic in the park?  Before Jubilee fever grips the country this weekend, we decided to explore two of central London’s most famous Royal open spaces: Green Park and neighbouring St James’s Park. 

St James's Park lake

I seem to pass through Green Park tube station much more often these days than I did before I had a baby – it’s one of the only West End stations to have step free access from the platforms to the street, which makes getting around town without hauling a buggy up several flights of steps much easier.  Despite using the station regularly, I don’t often venture into Green Park itself, which is a shame as it’s a pleasant place for a stroll or to escape the bustle of Piccadilly and relax in a deckchair in the warm weather.

Green Park (or The Green Park as it is officially known) is located between Piccadilly, Constitution Hill and Queen’s Walk, and was created as a deer park in 1668 by Charles II.  Covering approximately 47 acres, the Park is unlike other London parks in that it has few monuments and no lake, playground or sporting facilities.  Its main draw is the relative tranquility of its wooded parkland despite its central location.  We enjoyed a stroll in the shade of the Park’s mature trees before crossing The Mall to St James’s Park to see what it had to offer in comparison.

Sandpit - St James's Park

Situated between St James’s Palace, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace, St James’s Park is the oldest Royal Park in London.  Henry VIII, who constructed St James’s Palace, established a deer park on the site in 1532.  The Park was well-used and further developed by Elizabeth I, James I and Charles II, before it was laid out in its current form in the nineteenth century by John Nash.

Today the Park, covering 58 acres, has a number of attractions for visitors.  Its lake is home to a variety of birds including Pelicans (first introduced to the Park as a gift from the Russian ambassador in the seventeenth century), ducks and geese.  Alongside the lake you will find formal gardens, a playground with a fantastic sandpit, bandstand and deckchairs for hire in fine weather.  The Blue Bridge across the lake offers views of Horseguards Parade, Whitehall, the London Eye and Buckingham Palace.  The Mall which borders St James’s Park to the North, is the focal point of parades and Royal events – on the day we visited, my son was thrilled to witness the Changing the Guard parade.

Interest rating

Changing the Guard

What Green Park and St James’s Park lack in size compared to some London parks, they make up for in terms of location and history.  They are definitely worth a visit – Green Park is great for picnics and toddling; children will love the Pelicans, seeing the Changing the Guard ceremony and playing in the sandpit at St James’s Park.  Be prepared for crowds on sunny days – the Parks’ central locations mean that they are extremely popular with both tourists and locals.

Admission cost

Entry to the Parks is free.

St James's Park

Facilities

Public toilets are available in both Green and St James’s Parks.

Café

Both Parks have several refreshment points for drinks, snacks and ice cream.

St James’s Park has a licensed restaurant, Inn The Park, which is operated by Peyton and Byrne and serves breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.  Baby changing and high chairs are available.

Opening hours

Green Park is open all day, all year round.

St James’s Park is open from 5am to midnight all year round.

Ducks and ducklings

Contact details

Websites:

Green Park

St James’s Park

Getting there

By train: The nearest London Underground stations are Green Park (Jubilee, Piccadilly, Victoria Lines – step free access from platforms to street), Hyde Park Corner (Piccadilly Line), Victoria (Victoria, Circle and District Lines), St James’s Park (District and Circle Line), Westminster (Jubilee, District and Circle Lines – step free access).

Victoria and Charing Cross National Rail stations are also within walking distance.

By Bus:

2, 3, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 19, 22, 24, 29, 36, 38, 52, 53, 73, 77a, 82, 88, 91, 148, 159, 211, 436, 453

Map:

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