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The parks in and around London are always popular getaways for people who live in the city with kids to escape to and have some fun. But this year especially, with potential sanctions in place all summer, parks are going to be a lifesaver for those living in London.
With leisure centres looking likely to be closed for quite some time, kids will be desperate to get to a paddling pool on a hot sunny day to cool off and play in the water. Aside from the lockdown aspect of finding a pool, it is also a great idea to spend some time in the water with young ones this summer, to help teach the swimming basics and build their confidence around water. So, if you're looking for an outdoor paddling pool to visit this summer, then read on to find out our London swimming hotspots!
Remember to keep following government advice for England regarding travel.
Hyde Park Lido and Paddling Pool
The Serpentine Lido has been a classic attraction for young families for over 100 years! It really is a great place to take your young ones for their first swim - as well as being very easily accessible for families living in central London. The Lido has a designated children’s play area, including a pool, a sandpit, climbing frame and bouncy toys. It's a great place for parents to visit with younger kids, as they can sit back and relax on a deck chair, right by the water in central London as they watch the kids play.
Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, Hyde Park
Everyone who lives in London will have been to Hyde Park, but have you visited the fountain? There's a surprising amount of attractions spread across the park, so you may not have noticed it before. This fountain isn’t very deep, so it is more for families that are passing through, as opposed to wanting a place to swim for the afternoon. However, it is still an amazing attraction to explore on a summers day – especially with hot children wanting to cool off! This could be a second stop on your visit to Hyde Park, as well as the one above - perfect for an afternoon of fun and water play.
Causton Street Playground, Pimlico
Hidden just behind the Tate Britain, is the Causton Street Playground - one of London's free paddling pools to visit! This is actually a very well kept secret and is bound to be a lot less busy than the likes of Hyde Park. It also has a large sandpit and well-built climbing frames, but the main attraction is its well maintained and clean outdoor shallow pool, which is perfect for paddling. Your little adventurer can waddle through the water and play as you relax on the grass. If you're local to Pimlico, we don't think you're going to be able to keep your kids away from this place.
Hampstead Heath Swimming Ponds and Lido
Reviewed as “one of the best outdoor pools in London”, the historical Hampstead Heath hosts a super exciting mix of wet water activities, perfect for the summer months. They have a great paddling pool – for younger splashers to test out their newfound swimming skills! This park gets our approval because it has something to entertain kids of all ages. It is normally open 7 days a week, 07:00 am – 8:30pm, although this has been affected by the current situation. The paddling pool is not free to enter, a breakdown of the prices is available on the website, as well as current opening times.
The Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington
Commonly known as the V&A, most parents will know that the museum offers a wide range of free activities for kids. The museum is open 7 days a week and it really is adored by the whole of London. So, next time you're there and you've enjoyed an afternoon of fun wandering around the galleries, take a trip to the courtyard and take a dip in the shallow pool. They also have changing facilities available on site, which is a great bonus for parents. If the museum should open any time soon during the lifting of some lockdown sanctions, this really is the perfect answer to banish the summer boredom. If not, it's one to keep in mind.
Central Saint Martins Fountains, Granary Square
This is easily the most popular attraction near to King’s Cross and is perfect if you're in North London, as King's Cross is so easily accessible. The fountains at Granary Square are made up of 1,080 jets that are individually controlled and lit up, meaning hours of entertainment for kids who love water play. The fountains are always open and also provide amazing photo opportunities for parents who love photographing their kids. Just behind the square is Central Saint Martins art school, meaning that the space is always alive with young people. Parents can sit on the carved benches that surround the fountains and watch the kids play among the choreographed water display.
Merchant Square Fountain Maze, Paddington
If your kids loved the fountains at King's Cross, try exploring Merchant Square on another day! This open space has plenty going on to delight children and their parents, including giant board games, table tennis, a floating park, paddle boarding, street food and the Fountain Maze. The fountains are unique in that they turn an afternoon of paddling into a challenge and game. The 320 jets are arranged across in three circles, and the game is to see whether they can get back and forth without getting wet.
Wimbledon Sprinkler Park
Try this water-based fun activity space in Wimbledon, it’s completely free! It is only open during the summer months (July and August), but it is definitely worth a visit. The interactive splash pads and sprinkler park has an amazing six paddling pools that include two interactive play areas that squirt, sprinkle and tip water onto the children playing there. It really is the best place to cool down and have some outdoor fun in South London this summer. The children's water play areas are also supervised which is a great benefit to this space.
Victoria Park Splashpad
This public London park features a splash pad full of hills and troughs to play amongst, and with buttons to squirt water into action, or barriers to hold it back, so there are so many ways to play! There is a variety of children's play equipment for a range of ages, as well as the shallow pool for Summer usage. There are also changing rooms and facilities on-site in the Pavillion (subject to opening). Also, another bonus is that for families wanting to entertain older children or teenagers too, there are a number of things to look out for, including the outdoor gym equipment and the outdoor table tennis table. It is left available year-round for free so long as you bring your own ping-pong equipment.
This large flat green grassland has a popular feature in the form of a mound, perfect for walks and sunbathing. It lies to the east of Plumstead Common, so it is perfect for anyone in the East and will be a little less busy than those parks in central. However, best of all - Winn's Common has a great shallow pool for paddling. The normal opening times are 10 am - 6 pm from 20 July - 1 September. So you've got plenty of time to get down there! This park provides plenty of space for the whole family to enjoy, for things like dog walking or outdoor games. So, Winn's Common we think this is a must-see space this summer, as it offers spaces where both young children and adults can play.
Originally from Bournemouth, Annabelle spent her childhood travelling and exploring. She moved to Bahrain at the age of 13 and then to London at 19 where she attended Chelsea College of Arts, UAL. She loves all things creative - especially if they involve recycling materials, as this is what she is most passionate about. Aside from art, Annabelle also enjoys walking her dogs and cooking for friends and family.