The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew has emerged from lockdown, blooming as brightly as ever.
From the Arboretum (an enormous array of 14,000 trees!) to the Mediterranean garden, there's so much to see and do. But what do you need to bear in mind before taking the family?
Why Kew Is Perfect For Families
Kew is beautiful. No question. But it's also responsible for important conservation and research work and is, therefore, an excellent place to educate your children about the natural world.
In fact, Kew is home to the biggest and most diverse collections of living plants of any botanical garden in the world, and many of the species it houses are now extinct in the wild. After months of educational stalemate, visiting Kew Gardens provides a great opportunity to give your family a fun and informative day out.
What To Know Before You Go
Visiting policy has changed in light of Covid-19, so read on to see how you can enjoy Kew gardens in post-lockdown safety.
Kew Gardens are now open Monday to Friday 10am-7pm (last entry at 6pm), Saturday and Sunday 8am-8pm (last entry 7pm).
In order to comply with government social distancing measures, Kew is only opening to a limited number of people.
A pre-arranged booking system for visitors aims to reduce queuing and stagger entry flow. This way, you and your family can enjoy the gardens without worrying about big crowds. Don't forget to book before you go as anyone without a time-slot will not be permitted entry.
You can arrive within 45 minutes of the time you select (though not before) and once you've gained entry to the gardens you can stay and enjoy them as long as you like. Remember to bring proof of your time slot on your phone and any necessary ID for concession tickets.
Toilets (including baby change) and shops are open and will be regularly cleaned and monitored.
As of 4 July, most of the glasshouses and restaurants at Kew are open. Food and drink is available via pop-up venues, though you are allowed to bring your own into the gardens. Water fountains are available.
Kew Gardens is now cashless, so remember to bring your card.
Unfortunately, there are some attractions that remain closed in order to keep everyone safe. These are:
- The Botanical and the indoors of the Orangery
- The Treetop Walkway
- The Children's Garden
- The Shirley Sherwood Gallery and the Marianne North Gallery
- Climber and Creepers
- The Pagoda, Queen Charlotte's Cottage and Kew Palace
- The Minka House
- The Badger Sett and Log Trail in the Natural Area
- The Library
- The Kew Explorer Train
Buildings and attractions may reopen over summer, so check with the Kew website for details.
Safety At The Gardens
- Outside the gates, there will be 2m markers to help us remember to social distance. Inside the park, you are free to roam as you please, though are reminded to adhere to the 2m rule. There will be some staff in PPE stationed around the site to help manage crowding.
- Hand-washing stations can be found at key points around the park and at each gate.
- The newly-opened glasshouse now operates with a one-way system, though some areas may be closed off so staff can work safely. The area is rigorously cleaned and stewards are on hand to supervise queuing.
- Shops, toilets and facilities are open with guidance in effect, and with a strict cleaning schedule upheld throughout the day.
- The horticultural staff who work in the gardens are practising strict social distancing, and won't be able to answer visitors' questions.
What To Take With You
- Hand sanitiser
- Face masks (currently optional, but a good idea)
- Tissues or wipes
- Contactless card
- Water and food (if you want to avoid queues and crowds at refreshment facilities). But picnics are fun.
Getting There: Current government advice is to avoid public transport where possible (though this looks set to change soon). Ideally, you should cycle or walk to the gardens, though this won't be an option for everybody.
Bus routes 65, 391, 237 and 267 will all get you to either one of the gates or within walking distance of the park.
If you are taking the train, South West Trains run from Waterloo to Kew Bridge station, which is 800m from Elizabeth Gate. The District Line (Richmond branch) and London Overground both run to Kew Gardens station (which is 500m from Victoria Gate). Do remember to wear face coverings on public transport.
Entry and Exit: Victoria Gate is operating as entrance only and Lion Gate is exit only. Elizabeth Gate and Brentford Gate are functioning as normal.
Parking: Visitors are advised to walk or cycle to the gardens if at all possible, as parking is limited and not allowed on Kew Road. Kew Gardens car park is located on Ferry Lane, near Brentford Gate (TW9 3AF) and costs £7 per day. See our full guide to parking at Kew.
Kew also specifies that, given the current climate, visitors should only travel to the gardens if they are able to do so safely.
One Last Thing...
... remember to enjoy yourselves. We know that a day out with the family comes with an awful lot of rules these days, but that doesn't mean you can't have a nice time. With summer now upon us and lockdown easing it's the perfect time to get over to Richmond for a visit to the beautiful Kew Gardens. Hopefully we'll see you there!
Originally from Manchester, Olivia has spent the last couple of years living between Toronto and Vancouver. She now works as a freelance writer in London and loves literature, travel and eating anything sweet. Her love of spending time with children began when she worked as an au pair in Paris.