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Crystal Palace Park
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11 amazing local parks in London

Your tiny terrace not cutting it? Head to one of these excellent local public parks in London instead

Written by
Liz Darke
Time Out editors

Things are warming up in London, and the city’s major parks are slowly filling with the sun-seeking masses. We’ve got undying love for the epic royal parks, but sometimes we just can’t face fighting for a deckchair in Hyde Park, or trekking for miles in search of a free patch of green to call your own.

Here, we’ve rounded up London’s best local parks that deserve your attention. They may be smaller and less well known than their bigger brethren, but they pack a punch in the way of amenities and community spirit. Expect everything from top outdoor sports facilities to quiet picnic spots in these top parks – just don’t tell the locals we sent you.

Wanna see more of the great outdoors? Here's a video of the best parks and gardens in the city.

RECOMMENDED: Outdoors London

North London’s best local parks

  • Attractions
  • Wildlife centres
  • Stoke Newington

What is it? A lush and calming 55-acre open space in Stoke Newington. Young families, canoodling couples, Hackney hipsters and football lads are among the regulars, but rarely does it feel like any one group’s about to take over.

Why go? Depending on which side of 30 you are, there’s the charming, recently restored Grade II-listed Clissold House to admire (from the outside only, unless you’re attending a yoga class or getting married in it), or a decent-sized skatepark, five-a-side football facilities and open-air table tennis area.

Top tip Don't ignore the wildlife - Clissold Park also has a small farm with deer and goats.

Opens 7.30am. Closes Dusk. Barbecues allowed? No.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Stamford Hill

What is it? Occupying 35 acres in Hackney’s Upper Clapton, this is London’s most beautiful, untouched local park. It’s a fantastic spot for pottering, picnicking, sunbathing, and non-strenuous sports. 

Why go? There’s a fountain, a bandstand, tennis courts, a bowling green, a cricket pitch, outdoor chess boards, a children’s playground and a bit of tangled shrubbery for the kids to get lost in. There’s also an upmarket park cafe for lunch fodder.

Top tip On hot weekends, the stretch of river at the bottom of the park is a noisy jostle of boats of all shapes and sizes, from Victorian narrow barges to inflatable dinghies. The bridge across to the marshes makes for a great lookout post from which to watch the fun.

Opens 24 hours. Barbecues allowed? No.

South London’s best local parks

Burgess Park, SE5
  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Camberwell

What is it?  A long, thin stretch of green hills, hidden playgrounds and swan-inhabited lakes nestled among the grey estates of Walworth Road. The park completed a £6 million makeover a few years ago, so the 113 acres are looking mighty smart.

Why go? There are sports aplenty here – tennis courts, cricket lawns and football pitches, plus a signposted 5k running route and fishing in the lake. The massive adventure playground is an energetic kid’s dream, and there’s a go-karting track for under-16s. Burgess Park even boasts a BMX track, if that's your bag.

Top tip Take a stroll across the wooden bridge over the lake (which has impressive 30ft fountains) for a more tranquil experience. 

Opens 24 hours. Barbecues allowed? Yes, but only in designated areas which can't be reserved.

Crystal Palace Park, SE20
  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Crystal Palace

What is it? Grade II-listed green space in south-east London that is vast, grassy and very hilly – climb high enough and you’ll be treated to a fantastic view of the London skyline. It’s got stacks of sporting history, too, having hosted the FA Cup final during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Why go? It has just about everything you’d expect from a 200-acre patch of grass, plus a few things you absolutely wouldn’t. It's home to London’s biggest maze, for a start, as well as a collection of hundred-year-old, life-size dinosaur sculptures, a children’s farm and a racetrack for remote-control cars.

Top tip If snow settles in winter, you can use the park’s gentle slopes for ski practice.

Opens 7.30am on weekdays, 9.00am on weekends. Closes 4.30pm-9.30pm, depending on time of year. Barbecues allowed? No.

East London’s best local parks

Victoria Park, E9
  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Victoria Park

What is it? London’s oldest public park, welcoming all-comers for over 170 years. It’s a bit of a joggers’ and commuter cyclists’ paradise during the week, but 86 hectares of space means you’re generally free to take a sunny snooze without fear of being mown down.

Why go? It’s the perfect place to walk off a monster brunch from the park’s own Pavilion Café or nearby Broadway Market. If you’re feeling more energetic, head for the football pitches, cricket nets and tennis courts. You’ll also spot people slack-lining, practising tai chi and pulling gnarly tricks at the skatepark. You can also check out the Chinese pagoda that popped up a few years ago in the middle of the East Lake. Just stroll over the newly built bridge for a side of serenity with your sarnie.

Top tip It’s probably worth steering clear of the place whenever there’s a festival on (unless you’ve got tickets, obviously).

Opens 7am. Closes Dusk. Barbecues allowed? No.

London Fields, E8
  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • London Fields

What is it? A 30-acre green space in Hackney where you’ll find pollarded trees, dog walkers and the odd sports fanatic. In summer months, it’s a destination for sun-seeking hipsters.

Why go? Drinking pink wine and eating kebabs here in summer is a real treat. But there’s also swimming at the heated lido, a cricket pitch and basketball nets, a summer paddling pool, tennis courts, an outdoor gym and two kids’ playgrounds. 

Top tip The wildflower meadow, a relatively recent addition to the park, is a lovely tranquil spot. 

Open 24 hours. Barbecues allowed? No. BBQs have been banned for summer 2019. 

Lloyd Park, E17
  • Things to do
  • Walthamstow

What is it? Refurbished in 2012, this historic green space is home to the famous William Morris Gallery.

Why go? Following the refurbishment, Lloyd Park has new landscaped gardens inspired by William Morris designs. It also boasts an eighteenth-century moat, an outdoor gym, a new skate park, table tennis tables, excellent children’s play areas with a sandpit and fountain, and a community café. Beyond these grounds are large fields containing dog walkers, joggers and sporting activities 

Top tip Check the website for a range of free courses on offer in the park, from aerobics to Tai Chi. 

Opens 7.30am Monday-Saturday, 9am Sunday. Closes Depends on the time of year. Barbecues allowed? No.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Mile End

What is it? 32 hectares of the green stuff following Regent's Canal from Victoria Park to Limehouse Basin.

Why go? The Children’s Park in Mile End Park is the place to head for a colourful and imaginative space that has a rope slide, scrambling wall, complicated climbing frame, swings and a see-saw, as well as a dedicated area for under-fives that includes a vast sandpit. New apparatus installed in the playground is designed to appeal to children with disabilities, with a huge, bird’s nest-style swing and a ramped bridge. There's also a top arts centre and exhibition space to explore. 

Top tip Summer additions include play fountains and fire pits; don’t miss the recently created skateboard park either.

Opens 24 hours. Barbecues allowed? No.

West London’s best local parks

Holland Park, W8
  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Holland Park

What is it? A fancy park minutes away from the rather imposing houses of Notting Hill.

Why go? It’s a striking mix of the practical and the beautifully landscaped: carefully tended lawns, sheltered pathways and Japanese gardens sit alongside busy playing fields and overgrown woodland. There’s also peacock-spotting, a children’s park, and the opportunity to soak up some posh garden culture.

Top tip The annual Opera Holland Park festival season, showing works from the likes of Puccini, Donizetti and Bizet, happens every June, July and August. Staged on the old ruins of Holland House, and covered by only a canopy, the opera isn’t super expensive (£20-£70), and you can book a picnic table (from £28). 

Opens 7.30am. Closes 30 minutes before dusk. Barbecues allowed? No.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Hammersmith

What is it? A mecca for yummy mummies from nearby Chiswick and Hammersmith, Ravenscourt Park is home to not one but five children’s play areas.

Why go? There’s also a pretty little lake, a bowling green, tennis courts, a modest paddling pool, a beautiful secret garden.

Top tip The park's cute little café dispenses obscene cakes by Fait Maison. 

Opens 9am. Closes 6.30pm. Barbecues allowed? No.

Acton Green Common, W4
Alex Hughes/Flickr

Acton Green Common, W4

What’s it like? Containing more Bugaboos than a Destiny’s Child reunion, Acton Green Common is a lush and pleasant little strip of greenery outside of Turnham Green station.

Why go? It’s a pretty spot with a lot of history; Acton Green Common was reputedly the site of a battle between Royalists and Republicans during the English Civil War. These days, it’s a favourite with toddlers on scooters (who love the pathways) and twenty-something couples who like to sit and drink tinnies from the local offy. There’s also a five-a-side football centre on the adjoining Chiswick Common. 

Top tip If you like keeping fit in the open air, ‘gym in the park’ classes are held every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. 

Open 24 hours. Barbecues allowed? No. 

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