London’s Hyde Park is one of the greatest city parks in the world! It covers 350 acres and had 4,000 trees, a beautiful boating lake, a flowery meadow and pretty, scented gardens. It’s hard to believe you’re in central London.
The park is different things to different people. Many commute each day and trot through a corner, their eyes intent on their exit without hearing the robins singing in the trees or the shy dunnocks nestling in the shrubbery. This park, however, is more than a short cut; it’s a destination in itself. There is masses to do for families, great maps provided, toilets dotted around the place and a network of easy paths for buggies and scooters plus loads of grassy areas for running, hiding, picnicking, lazing and generally having fun!
So many things to do…
1. Horse riding
Ross Nye Stables, 8 Bathurst Mews, W2 2SB (Opposite Lancaster Gate tube)
Set in the historic Bathurst Mews, Ross Nye Stables is ideally situated for riding in Hyde Park and takes riders along the famous ‘Rotten Row’.
As well as rides the Stables offer instruction in the outdoor arena and lessons. Children under the age of six are not able to ride, unfortunately, but if you bring along someone to mind the children, it’s lovely way for parents to spend a child-free hour. The horses and ponies are fine, responsive beasts all beautifully groomed and equipped. You’ll be the envy of the whole park as you confidently (!) trot by.
The Serpentine Lido and Paddling Pool is open on weekends throughout May and daily from June to mid September. It’s a pretty pool area with a shallow pool and sand pit for little ones. A children’s entertainer performs some days in the summer.
Prices: Adults £4.00; Children (age 3 -15) £1.00; under 3 free.
www.royalparks.org.uk, 020 7262 3474
How about a round of putting? Hire the clubs and balls from the Tennis Club Pavilion and test your skills. Miniature clubs are available for children and it’s a relaxed and fun way to spend an hour. There is no time limit either so no one needs feel pressured into taking the shot before lining it up properly.
Prices: Adults £5.00; Children £3.00; Family (2 Adults and 2 children) £12.00
4. Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain
This memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales was opened by Her Majesty The Queen in 2004. It was built using the finest materials and craftsmen. The water flows and swirls and cascades around and then drops into a calm pool. Crossing the little bridges is safe and easy for children, and paddling is permitted… ideal for cooling down on a hot day.
5. Boating on The Serpentine
www.solarshuttle.co.uk, 020 7262 1330
Rowing and pedal boats operate on the famous Serpentine from the newly refurnished boat house and what better way to chase ducks than in a boat! The boats are much easier to steer and operate that they look. If you prefer the easier option, the amazing Solarshuttle is an electrically-powered passenger ferry driven entirely by energy from the sun. It gracefully glides across the water taking passengers on a leisurely ride… and it looks stunning!
½ Hour rowing/paddle boat hire: Adult £7.00, Children £3.00, Family (2 adults and 2 children) £17.00.
Note: Children under the age of 12 months are not permitted on the hire boats but are permitted on the Solarshuttle.
6. Deck Chairs
Traditional, stripy deckchairs are available for hire throughout the park. After an exhausting day, they’re ideal for a rest, nap or to just sit back and watch the ducks on the lake.
Deck Chair Prices: Up to 1 hour: £1.50.
7. The legendary… Hard Rock Cafe
150 Old Park Lane, W1K 1QZ
The best and most popular restaurant in London (judging from the queues that snake down Park Lane at busy times) is the fabulous Hard Rock Café infamous for its great burgers and American pizzazz!
There is so much going on inside you really don’t need to bring any entertainment for the kids at all! The TV screens show classic rock performances, the music blares from the speakers, the food is colourful and exciting and the staff are outstanding in their enthusiasm of the restaurant, and their knowledge of the menu.
The children’s menu is cute with Cheesy Mac being one of the favourites: a huge, steamy plate of freshly prepared twisted macaroni in a creamy cheese sauce, served with crunchy garlic toast. Included is a drink but you can upgrade and have a thick chocolaty milkshake instead. De-lish!
There’s some great memorabilia on the walls: Eric Clapton’s Lead II Fender, plus costumes and instruments once belonging to the rock greats!
Kids’ pack: Yes, colouring and pencils.
Kid’s menu: Yes, burgers, pasta, chicken.
Baby changing: Yes.
High chairs: Yes
Overall: A funky, noisy place to come and enjoy a relaxed American style meal. Hard Rock Cafe truly ROCKS!
www.hardrock.com, 020 7514 1700