Just because Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee celebration has ended, doesn’t mean that you can’t dip your toe in a royal experience. There’s plenty to keep you crazy busy, you probably have a long list of things to do on your London itinerary, but when you’re ready for a break, try a get back to nature moment with a visit to one of the 8 royal parks of London. Fair warning – the parks can be busy, crowded places, but the opportunity to enjoy some beautiful grounds in the out-of-doors can be a tonic to the traveler’s soul.
The parks were originally 5,000 acres of hunting grounds for the Royals, and later became formal gardens, also for the Royals, and it wasn’t until the mid-1800s that the first park was opened to the general public. Today, everyone is welcome, so on your next trip to London take advantage of these once royal-only opportunities and visit one of London’s 8 royal parks:
- Bushy Park – Covering around 1,100 acres, most of which are open to the public, these were originally deer hunting grounds. Today Bushy Park is home to the rugby, hockey, and cricket clubs, and is a wildlife conservation area that is home to herds of Red and Fallow Deer.
- The Green Park – Consisting entirely of wooded meadows, The Green Park is believed to have originally been a swampy burial grounds. It later served as a private family estate before being turned into a royal park. Government offices and royal palaces are linked beneath the park in an underground
- Greenwich Park – With magnificent views over the Thames and the city, Greenwich Park is part of the Greenwich World Heritage Site. The equestrian events and parts of the modern pentathlon events of the Summer Olympics will be staged here. The Royal Observatory is also located in the park.
- Hyde Park – You may think this huge park, site of frequent demonstrations, is part of Kensington Gardens, but it has been a park of its own since the 1700s. Full of monuments (the Diana, Princess of Wales memorial is here) as well as wide open spaces (many famous rock concerts have been staged here), Hyde Park was the site for the triathlon and some swimming events for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
- Kensington Gardens – With plenty of wide open spaces, Kensington Gardens was once the private gardens of Kensington Palace. The gardens are fenced, a bit formal and posh, and full of art, making it a popular respite spot for visitors.
- Richmond Park – The largest of the royal parks at 2,360 acres, Richmond Park is home to Red and Fallow Deer and many notable monuments and historic sites. It is home to the Queen Mother’s Copse, a small triangular enclosure established in memory of the late Queen Mum.
- St. James’ Park – The oldest of the royal parks, St. James’ is adjacent to Buckingham Palace and has a small lake with two islands with a resident colony of penguins.
- Regent’s Park – Regent’s is home to Regent’s College and the London Zoo along with gardens, a boating area, playgrounds, and a variety of sporting areas. Although originally scheduled as a venue for the 2012 Summer Olympics, it doesn’t look like that will happen.
Eight royal parks, each with their own personality and appeal – and just perfect for an afternoon of enjoyment.
Photo credit: ed g2s via wikimedia commons
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Mary Jo Manzanares is a founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine proving informational and inspirational travel recommendations for curious Baby Boomer travelers. She has been a speaker at various industry events and has a personal travel blog at Traveling with MJ. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Mary Jo’s top travel destinations are Italy, Portugal, and the Caribbean.