So it’s summer. There’s (currently) beautiful weather, it’s the school holidays… and a global pandemic. You might be stuck in London, and you might be sad that you’ve not made it abroad this year, but I am here to tell you why being in London this summer is actually a positive. It’s a city packed with outdoor activities, and there is so much to see and do. So Summer 2020 may not be exactly as we had hoped, but it can still be salvaged.
Here are my top five outdoor (and free/cheap!) activities that you can do to make the most of your staycation (and you may just be glad you had to stay afterall).
1: PARK LIFE
You know the phrase ‘less is more’? Well this is certainly a case of that. A very simple idea but honestly, my new favourite activity. If lockdown has taught me anything, it’s that parks > every other venue.
Yes, they are not ideal if it’s raining or cold, but when the weather is right, they are perfect. London is very lucky in that there is SO much open space, you never have to walk far to find a park.
Bring your friends and family, a few chairs, a frisbee or a ball and of course some food, and you have the winning combination for the ultimate chilled fun. No entry charges, no capacity limit, no closing time: just you, and your favourite people having some good old fashioned fun. I hope this is a permanent fixture after lockdown is long gone.
If you fancy something a bit more adventurous than a picnic or a BBQ, a lot of London parks also offer some amazing outdoor activities. Some of my favourites include Putt in the Park at Battersea Park…
Adults are £10, kids under 15 are £8, and there is a family deal too. This course is a great mix of fun and difficulty, and there’s a cafe where the winner can buy everyone pizza and a drink after! Just make sure you pre-book this all online in advance!
The pedalos at Regents Park…
These are available for hire for either half an hour or an hour. We opted for the hour because who wouldn’t want the extra 30 minutes of pedalo joy? It’s only £2 difference between the two time frames (£8.50 or £10.50 for an adult), so it was a no-brainer really. No need to book this one, just turn up and say pedHELLO to some fun!
And finally, the Rowing Boats in Hyde Park.
£12 per adult for an hour, or £10 for half an hour, or £5 and £4 respectively for children between 4 and 15. There is also the option for pedalos here too if you would rather! I would recommend the hour again, purely because the expanse of water: you can row and explore a long way away and need to make sure you have enough time!
All of these are the perfect addition to a fun day out!
2: ON YOUR BIKE
Has anyone ever got on a bike and not had a good time? No, I didn’t think so.
And London makes using a bike so easy! Santander Cycles (or Boris Bikes as I will always know them as), are a prominent fixture, with a docking station almost around every corner at this point. Perfect for picking up and then dropping of everywhere you want to go around the city.
Riding a bike in itself is a fun activity, but you could combine it with any of the other suggestions on this list. And for only £2 for unlimited journeys up to 30 minutes within 24 hours, it is such a cheap day of fun!
Hyde Park or the Olympic Park are two great options for cycling around – just make sure you watch out for other people and don’t do anything stupid!
Disclaimer: I don’t recommend riding on the road unless you are an absolute pro.
There’s lots of information on the TfL website if you want to find out more.
3: YOUR BOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKING (OR TRAINERS, WHATEVER)
I have always loved walking, but if, like me, you have got into it even more recently (due to it being the only excuse to leave your house for three months *eye roll emoji*), then make the most of your new found love! London has some incredible walking routes, (or you could make your own of course), that allow you to really discover the city and all the sights it has to offer (spoiler alert: A LOT).
A really good one is along Regents Canal from Paddington to Limehouse Basin (or picking up any section of this route in between). It is a lengthy walk, around nine miles, however it takes you straight through the heart of London, where you can really enjoy your surroundings. And following a canal, it’s almost impossible to get lost! (Almost being the key word because somehow we still managed it and followed a different canal for about an hour before having to turn back. But it’s all about getting those extra steps in right?)
You’ll get to go through Little Venice (super cute, and a perfect lunch stop), past the back of London Zoo (and yes, you can see a few animals), and delve into Camden market, amongst a lot of other very cool things. It will keep you going knowing that the vibe is about to completely change and you’ll experience something new.
Then you get to walk the whole thing back again so you can get home! (Only joking, the DLR is very close to the finishing point, and you’re not far from Kings Cross for all of the transport options).
4: IT’S TOURIST TIME
How often do we get the chance to be a tourist in our own city? Well, now’s your perfect chance! With the streets a bit quieter, why not go and see the landmarks?! I’m talking Big Ben, Tower of London and Buckingham Palace.
And there are slightly off the beaten track ones too, such as Abbey Road. My friend Gemma (hi Gemma, I hope you’re reading this) actually rates this as her top London activity: watching people pose on the crossing in the infamous Beatles pose whilst the traffic gets gradually more annoyed and beepy is a fun way to spend a few minutes. I was keen to see this for myself, and she took me there last weekend. We got lucky as it was super quiet and I was able to get the infamous shot without annoying anyone in the process (except maybe Gemma who had to take a fair few pics, sorry again xo).
5: EAT OUT, HELP OUT, WATCH (OTHERS) OUT
London is so diverse, and that even includes the range of restaurants and cafes. There are so many cute little independent ones, and supporting these now is more important than ever. Why not take the opportunity to sit outside and people watch as you enjoy the sights of London life?
I visited an Italian restaurant called UNo recently, right in the heart of the Pimlico. From my outside table (perfect as they are not too near the road), I could happily eat my pizza whilst I watched the world go by.
I hope you’ll enjoy these activities as much as I do!