She wouldn’t stop screaming! It was our last night in New York City and our 10 month old daughter simply wouldn’t go to sleep. She was giving us a very clear message - that we had to make time in our travel schedule for her to play. After a week of us trying (and failing) to get her to nap on-the-go, she didn’t get sufficient time to just crawl around and do baby things. This resulted in a very overtired and overstimulated baby.
At 14 months old, we took her to London and Paris. We knew she would not tolerate being confined to a stroller and that we had to make sure she was given time to play each day.
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At this age, our daughter was crawling and walking with assistance. She didn’t need playgrounds as much as she just needed to explore, so finding some green space was often good enough. We are early risers, so we would often start the day by walking down to the nearby Whitehall Gardens after breakfast to give her some time to explore at her own pace. We would then find other gardens or playgrounds while we were out to give her some more time to play.
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We hadn’t done any research prior to our trip specifically looking for playgrounds, but instead would consult our map each day to find some green space where she could crawl around. Here are some spots near some of the major attractions where you can let your little one burn off some energy:
Westminster Abbey / Buckingham Palace
St. James’s Park is the perfect place to let your little one crawl around. Grab some lunch for a picnic then just let them wander. You’ll find the St. James’s Park Playground near Buckingham Palace along Birdcage Walk or check out the pelicans on the South West side of the lake. Our daughter was fascinated with the birds.
Jubilee Gardens is next to the London Eye on the South Bank. You will find a great playground here that you can stop at to give your little one time to play. We didn't stop at it since we had planned to go to St James's Park after our visit to the London Eye and our daughter had fallen asleep in the baby carrier.
Along The Queen’s Walk heading east towards Tate Modern and the Tower Bridge, you will find a fun sand pit that you can also stop at. We stopped here on our way back from Tate Modern to our apartment to give our daughter some time to play before we had dinner and put her to bed.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
After our visit to the Tower of London, we stopped at the Festival Gardens on our way to St. Paul’s Cathedral to let our daughter out of the stroller and give her some time to crawl around on the grass. She was happy to just explore while we enjoyed views of the Cathedral.
We visited the British Museum on our first day after an overnight flight from Canada, so our daughter spent the whole visit sleeping in the stroller after having been up all night. This was one of the only days we did not find a spot for her to play, but if we had needed to Coram's Fields & The Harmsworth Memorial Playground is only a 10 minute walk away.
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Kensington Gardens / Hyde Park
There are a few playgrounds within Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, but we recommend visiting the Diana, Princess of Wales’ Memorial Playground in the far North-West corner near Kensington Palace. Within Kensington Gardens, you will find another playground to the east of the Italian Gardens and the Hyde Park Playground is in the South-East section of Hyde Park near South Carriage Drive. Or take advantage of all the green space and let your little one explore.
Tower Bridge / Tower of London
If you are walking along the South Bank to get to the Tower Bridge or Tower of London, you will find plenty of green space along the way like the Bernie Spain Gardens or Potters Fields Park. You will get a magnificent view of the River Thames and the Tower Bridge from Potters Fields Park.
We just let our daughter chase pigeons at the entrance to the Tower of London while one parent ran to get tickets.
Which of these playgrounds did you visit? What else should we include in this list? Comment below!