Kew Garden’s Playground or just simply “Children’s Garden” is a fantastic place for kids to have a good time while learning a thing or two about nature. The play area has all the things you would expect from a tip-top playground including trampolines, slides, splash pool, climbing structures, water pumps and sandpits.
The 4 Key Areas of Kew Gardens Playground
- Water Area: With water streaming through wooden aqueducts and stepping stones, this area feels wonderfully organic and is beautifully integrated into the landscape. If you’re bringing a toddler, chances are high that this will become a favourite area, so it might make sense to head over here first thing.
- The Earth Section: Another really popular area, with several large slides and a huge sandpit. This is a place with lots of action with young and old kids tumbling all around, so keep an eye on your kids!
- The Air Area: Our kids really enjoyed this part of the Kew Gardens Playground, especially the trampolines constructed in holes in the ground. You’ll also find giant pollen spheres perfectly shaped to jump over.
- The Sun Section: The sun themed area of the playground is quieter and less filled with action. Here it’s all about sensing, with different shapes and structures to explore.
It’s All About Nature
Kew Gardens playground (aka Children’s Garden) in South West London is ambitiously trying to capture the four key elements of life: Earth, Air, Sun and Water.
Different play areas are matched with each theme, so in the Air Garden you can jump on trampolines and climb up in the treetops, in the Water Garden kids can play with water pumps and enjoy the splash pool and so on. We love the concept and the level of ambition, but we also have to be honest and admit that we didn’t really have time to reflect and explain for our kids what the different areas represented.
For our kids, it’s all about having as much fun as possible when going to a playground and I wouldn’t expect them to sit down and thoughtfully comment on how the elements of life are reflected in the different play elements. I suspect it’s the same with other kids :-)
An expensive day out
Overall our kids really enjoyed Kew Gardens Playground. The facilities and play elements are top-notch, they felt safe and are well kept as you would expect considering the recent refurbishment. At the same time, a family ticket to Kew Gardens will cost you £40 for a family of four. This means you should also expect a lot more than a nice free public playground like Diana Memorial Playground or Greenwich Park Playground.
If you’re mainly planning on visiting the playground, paying the full ticket price might not be of great value. At the end of the day, kids don’t really care about playground design – it’s all about the thrill of swooshing down the slides and climbing to the top of the climbing frames. But if you manage to find the energy and inspire your kids to see the rest of Kew Gardens you’ll get a lot more out of your visit.
Impact of Covid-regulations
Negatives: The one hour window is really short
While the sessions lasted for two hours before COVID, the slots have now been reduced to only one hour. This is also understandable considering the need for social distancing and a reduction in overall capacity. On the other side, 60 minutes feels really short considering the high ticket price and that the playground takes a long time to fully explore.
At the time of writing (summer 2021), the water play area is turned off due to maintenance work. Hopefully, this will change shortly and become available since it’s a firm favourite among toddlers.
Positives: The advanced booking is working really well
Before COVID, you couldn’t book your time-slots to the playground in advance, which made it hard to plan the day, especially with younger children depending on nap time. Worst case, you had to spend the majority of your two-hour time slot with a sleeping toddler sitting in the shade somewhere having lunch.
With a booking system in place following COVID-guidelines, it’s much easier to plan your day in advance, having a fixed time slot for your playground visit. The overall number of children in the park is also reduced, so kids have much more space, and you’ll see much fewer clashes between older and younger kids.
Younger and older children mixing up
The divisions of the play areas have been made based on the themes (earth, air, sun, water), and not so much based on the ability or age of children. From one point of view, this is really nice since families can stay together without splitting up. On the other side, we did experience our two-year-old being trampled over by older children quite a few times. This is not a deal-breaker as such, it just means you need to be prepared to keep an eye on your smallest ones at all times.
The garden is divided up in many elements
We appreciate the efforts to educate children around the four essential elements. At the same time, the many divisions of the park in different play areas with different themes make it hard for parents to keep an eye on their children and let them play and explore on their own. This contrasts with other nature-themed adventure playgrounds such as Peckham Rye Playground, where the landscape is entirely open. We strongly believe in children being able to explore and play on their own without parents’ interference.
Summarizing Kew Gardens Playground
Based on the quality of the play areas and facilities, Kew Gardens has developed one of London’s best playgrounds, if not the best. Our kids truly enjoyed the day, which was our main goal with the visit. However, at the same time, we as parents felt more on edge than in many other playgrounds we have been to. This is because of the one-hour time pressure and the limited view of all the separated gardens.
Is Kew Garden’s Playground free?
No, you’ll need to pay general admission to access the playground.
Is the playground open during Covid Lockdown?
Yes, it’s open but you need to book tickets in advance.
How long does the playground sessions last?
60 minutes. You’ll get a 10 minutes warning before your session ends.
What age group is the playground for?
The official age recommendation is 0-15 years
Is the playground safe?
Yes, the playground is really well maintained and the play structures feel safe.