Parks, playgrounds and nature reserves

Children playing in the forest

They don't call it the great outdoors for nothing. Our Local editors recommend all the best outdoor areas and activities across the UK.

East of England

cows in a nice nature reserve

Taverham Mills Nature Reserve Norfolk

Rated as one of Norfolk’s best kept secrets, this picturesque nature reserve boasts a two-mile long trail for families to explore. Kids can use the various hides to observe local wildlife, or they can even join in some of the many activities put on by staff during the school holidays. If it’s your first visit, make sure to check out the new visitor centre.

Castle Park Colchester

There’s no better place for kids to get a sense of Colchester’s history than in Castle Park. Filled with over 2000 years of history, your family can traverse the grounds and see a landscape that’s been moulded by generations of Colchester people. This Victorian park also hosts many of the town’s big events, so you never know what fun you’ll find.

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deer park in the midlands

Wollaton Deer Park, Nottingham

When you think of a deer park, you probably don’t think of Hollywood blockbusters, but Wollaton has a big claim to fame as it featured as Wayne Manor in The Dark Knight Rises. Pretty cool, right? Outside of its celebrity credentials, the park offers beautiful traditional parkland and an Elizabethan mansion that has been converted into a fantastic museum.

Victoria Embankment, Nottingham

With its own paddling pool and children’s play area, this is an excellent choice for any family looking to get outside during those glorious sunny days. Music lovers will also be delighted to learn that there is a nearby bandstand, which offers some great performances and various points in the year.

The Shire Country Park, Moseley and Kings Heath

Following the River Cole, The Shire Country Park contains wetlands, grasslands, woodland and a heath - all perfect for exploration. There’s a huge array of local wildlife, so this is perfect for young nature enthusiasts. Keep a keen eye open for water vole, bats, and even otters!

Sutton Park, Sutton Coldfield

With over 2,000 acres, and numerous activities on offer including golf, nature-walks, and cycling. There are cafes on site, as well as a number of pubs offering hearty lunch and dinner options. You can even go out to spy the local wild ponies!

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North East

north east of england park

Saltwell Park Gateshead

A beautiful Victorian park, landscaped around the ever impressive Saltwell Towers. This park includes a variety of play areas, as well as sporting facilities. Fantasy lovers will be excited to learn that swan and DRAGON rides are offered over the lake! You can also get lost in the spooky Saltwell maze.

Carlisle Park Morpeth

This award winning park sits in the heart of Morpeth, beside the River Wansbeck. Featuring woodlands, play areas, formal gardens, tennis courts, a skate park and bowling greens - all in all, a perfect day out for the summer.

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North West

Rivington country park

Rivington Country Park Chorley

Rivington Pike is one of the region's most famous and prominent landmarks, and a wonderful view-point from where you can see out as far as the Irish Sea and the Welsh Mountains. Keen sightseers can also trek around to find landmarks such as the Pigeon Tower and the old castle.

Heaton Park Manchester

A visit to Manchester isn’t complete without visiting its largest park. Heaton has a range of exciting events on, from astronomy evenings to large scale dramatic and musical productions. And if that’s not enough, there’s also a host of friendly animals for your little ones to meet and greet (make sure you chatter with the guinea pigs!).

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South East

south east park

Whitstable Castle Play Area Whitstable

If your children love adventure, then take them on a visit to Dollar Dan’s Cove. A fun pirating day out, where children can search for hidden treasure and go climbing on board the pirate ship. Best get your family practising those sea shanties!  

Kearnsey Abbey, Temple Ewell

Little wildchilds will love this amazing park, featuring deep woods for expert den building and a stunning river running through the landscape. If your family gets tired of exploring, then you can have a relaxing break in the cosy tea rooms.

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South West

go ape south west

Moors Valley Country Park Ashley Heath

At Moors Valley there is something for everyone. You can enjoy a peaceful walk or a cycle ride through the Forest. You can get tooting with a ride on an authentic narrow-gauge steam train or even Go Ape on a high wire forest adventure swinging through the tree tops. There’s definitely something for every member of the family!

Hamworthy Play Park Area Poole

Having undergone a big refurbishment, the new play park is an excellent outing for families. New and improved features include play areas aimed at kids of all ages, space for sunbathing, and a large paddling pool - just what you need when the sun finally shines!

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london park

Coombe Wood Croydon

Upon entering the park, visitors are greeted by ponds, a terrace garden, the stables, and the Coach House Cafe - so already you’ve got loads to choose from! If you want to venture further, you can go exploring the footpaths, where you’ll find garden rooms and wooded areas.

South Norwood Country Park South Norwood

This is a great city escape for walkers and cyclists, as the park boasts its own cycle path throughout the grounds. Children can play to their hearts content on the new playground, while parents can take a relaxing tour through the visitor centre. But above all, do make sure you check out the wildflower meadow when it’s in full bloom!

Stephens House and Gardens Finchley

This regal home was gifted to the people from Henry Charles 'Inky' Stephens, of the Stephens' Ink Company. This stunning home is a Grade II listed building and offers extensive landscaped gardens for families to explore - cheers, Inky!

Broomfield Park Palmers Green

If you’ve got some little sports fans, then this is an ideal day out. Featuring an adventure golf course, a yachting pond (used for model boats), a basketball court, a football pitch, a bowling green, nine netball courts and 12 tennis courts - there’s definitely something here to entertain!

Myatt’s Fields Park Lambeth

The park was given an amazing makeover in 2010, when they commenced a £3 million refurbishment. You can definitely see the difference, as families can now enjoy a playground (featuring water play), new cafe, and beautiful wildlife areas. The team behind the park say this is more than just a place to relax, but also a way of making a real difference in the lives of local people. Sounds good to us!

london park

Dalston Curve Garden Dalston

The Dalston Eastern Curve Garden was created on the old Eastern Curve railway line - and what a transformation! Given some floral magic by the architecture group Exyzt, the garden is now full of wildlife-friendly trees and shrubs. Allotment lovers will also be excited to find raised beds for vegetable growing.

Springfield Park Upper Clapton

The park opened in 1905, when it was created from the grounds of three private houses (of which only Springfield House remains). It measures 14.73 hectares in size, which should tell you just how big these back gardens used to be! Fun amenities include: table tennis, chess boards, bowling green, actual tennis, and much more.

Lloyd Park Walthamstow

So much on offer that you’ll definitely need to make more than one visit! Kids can explore play areas, climbing logs, and sand pits. Sporty people can enjoy the tennis courts, basketball courts, and skatepark. And nature lovers can seek out The William Morris Garden.

Hollow Ponds Boating Lake Leytonstone

Here’s a fact, if you sit at the top of the Lea Valley, you’ll be in one of the few spots in London where no building (bar one block of flats) is taller than the tree line - perfect for sky gazing! If skies aren’t your thing, maybe you’re made for the water - in which case, head down to the rowing boats for some nautical fun.

Cannizaro Park Wimbledon

Only a stone's throw away from Wimbledon Village, the beautiful Cannizaro Park is a Grade II listed park in the heart of Wimbledon common. A big highlight is the flat paths throughout the landscape, which allow wheelchairs and pushchairs easy access through these historical grounds.

Oscar’s Playground Colliers Wood

Deen City Farm has opened a new play area dedicated to the memory of Oscar Ashton, a little boy who passed away in 2012. Oscar was a frequent visitor to Deen City with his family, who have helped to raise £10,000 so that an underused section of the farm could be transformed into a fun and educational area for under-fives.

Mayesbrook Park Dagenham

Mayesbrook Park is a large and varied park, an attractive nature reserve and has a newly restored river landscape. Children will love the variety on offer, such as the toddler playground, the adventure playground, or any of the amazing sports facilities on site (including an AdiZone outdoor gym).

Valence Park & Valence Park Gardens Dagenham

Don’t be fooled by its size, this little park has a lot to offer, including a very picturesque fishing lake. These grounds used to belong to the Valence Manor House, but this historical building is now the borough’s museum - another great space to explore!

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Scotland park

Kelvingrove Park West End

This Sir Joseph Paxton designed park is a classic example of a Victorian park. Its design and setting on the banks of the River Kelvin enhance and compliment the many magnificent buildings which surround and the world renowned art gallery and museum prominently featured within it.

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Last updated: about 3 years ago