Marylebone Green Children's Playground, Regents Park
The Marylebone Green Children's Playground, towards the south-east corner of Regent's Park, is one of our family's favourite London playgrounds. It's not the capital's newest or most inventive play space, and some of the equipment could do with a coat of paint, but our boys always find lots to do and have a great deal of fun.
The structures in the sand pit can be used as dens... or more unconvenionally!
There is a large sand pit (my boys' favourite - they can, and do, spend hours there!), toddler swings, swings with good long chains for older children to go really high, roundabouts, seesaws and rocking animals, and two substantial wooden climbing frames: one for toddlers and smaller children, and one for older children. The climbing frames have walkways, bridges, ladders, monkey bars, slides and hidey holes that can be used to play house or shop - great for imaginative play. In addition, Marylebone Green, the large meadow just beyond the playground gate, is a good place for older children to kick a ball around or play Frisbee.
The two climbing frames cater for toddlers on up.
This is one of the most international, polyglot playgrounds I've ever been to. It's always full of local families, although there are as many expats as English. On weekends it's like the United Nations, with Moroccan grandmothers watching their grandchildren play in the sandpit, American couples pushing their toddlers on the swings, Japanese mums helping their children on and off the seesaws, and Eastern European families picnicking on the grass. On sunny weekdays you'll meet hordes of 'yummy mummies' with cute toddlers and fashionable buggies and strollers, plus plenty of nannies and au-pairs too. It all makes for interesting snatches of overheard conversation and - if you're comfortable striking up casual conversations - a good place to meet local families.
The younger children's climbing frame gives little ones a challenge while staying within safe reach.
The children never seem phased by language barriers, and plenty of friendships and alliances are made in the large sandpit. The sand is clean and deep. My sons have dug down half a metre or more, and not yet hit the bottom. You do need to bring your own sand toys, although paper cups and plastic spoons from the snack stand are a good fall back, and there's usually someone willing to lend out their buckets and spades while their own children play on the climbing frames.
Walkways, ropes and slides keep children busy.
Warning: Don't come here on summer weekends unless you can put up with crowds - the climbing frames will be swarming with kids, and the sandpit, large as it is, can be standing room only on hot days!
In common with most other playgrounds in London, adults are only admitted with a child. There is always an attendant on site, and although he/she mostly lurks in a room in the toilet block, not much passes unnoticed and you can be sure of a good telling-off if you're perceived to be doing something you shouldn't! One attendant in particular is rather ferocious and, should the need arise, will chase away groups of misbehaving teenagers while blowing sharply on her whistle!
Climbing frames, roundabouts, a large sand pit and more - the Marylebone Green Playground in Regent's Park keeps kids happy for hours!
The toilet block has child-sized toilets and sinks. The sign says 'Boys, no adults' and 'Girls, no adults', and the attendant will indeed stop adults from using them (although parents of younger children are of course admitted with their children, and there is then nothing to stop them using the toilets while they are there!).
There is very little shade in this playground, so come prepared with sun hats and sunscreen if it's a hot, sunny day.
The snack stand sells ice creams, hot and cold drinks, sandwhiches and 'treats'.
Squirrels are regular visitors to the picnic area.
There's a snack stand, open on weekends and throughout the summer, which sells drinks, sandwiches and 'treats' (granola bars, fruit, popcorn and crisps). There's often a queue for ice creams in the summer, and it's handy for hot drinks the rest of the time. Being Regent's Park, the coffee is organic and the tea is fair-trade. And, of course, prices are high - the organic Roskilly's ice cream is an eye-watering £2.30 a scoop!
There's a picnic area with two picnic tables and benches, and plenty of room to spread out a picnic blanket. You're likely to be visited by the resident squirrels and plenty of cooing pigeons, all hoping for some crumbs.