Somebody once stated when you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life. May I tweak this famous sentence adding tired of the urban life? This buzzy charming bigger than life city regularly exhausts and overwhelms us all. We regularly find ourselves in need of escaping in the nature therapy. So here’s our list of best half day trips from London : 6 fabulous retreats and gardens within 30 min drive.
i. Osterley Park & House – 25 minutes drive from Kensington
Great park outside the National Trust property, lovely lake with swans and various other bird, lots of space for running & playing games, wild flowers and a river. The house is magnificent, we have even managed to do a guided tour when R was about 7.5 months – the youngest National Trust member even laughed at some of the jokes. 18th century Georgian manor, the house has also a rather amusing history – the walking tour warmly recommended.
The National Trust garden are very pretty and manicured, we went few times but didn’t manage to pass the plant house on all occasions – far too many distractions, including bluebell walks and too many gorgeous flowers and trees. Bear in mind the gardens open just at 10am and a couple of times we arrived earlier as we were planning to be back home for the nap. The cafe is ok and they have some baby facilities including highchair and baby changing stations – though nothing to that got us very excited; weather allowing we preferred picnicking in the gardens.
ii. Richmond park & Petersham nurseries – 30 minutes drive from Kensington
Good combo for a restless toddler, combining to perfection a playground, walk up & down the hill and a lunch or early dinner in a green oasis of a charming glasshouse. The restaurant has a Michelin star and the cafe is a simpler/ more casual version, food still on the outstanding side, with various seasonal treats.
iii. Ham house – 30 minutes drive from Kensington.
Another charming National Trust property, parking and house by the river. Very pretty gardens, including a maze, cherry garden, games and ghosts tours. The orangery is charming, nice outdoor sitting area, with its own plants & garden. Dedicated article in here.
iv. Kew gardens: glorious gardens and UNESCO heritage site. Could easily spend a couple of day with a toddler. Good food options from picnic areas to casual family cafe and cute orangery. Treehouse, playground and various baby & toddler friendly activities. Please see our dedicated article in here, Kew Gardens are gorgeous pretty much any season.
v. Fenton house and garden – Hampstead – 30 minutes drive from Kensington
Apple orchard charming and very cute lawns. The cafe/ van closing at 4pm less so.
vi. London wetland centre is another great option for a day trip & a nice break from the urban pace. Lakes, ponds, gardens and wildlife, 10 minutes away from Hammersmith & 20 minutes from Kensington.
And of course any of the above half day trips from London could easily become a full gorgeous day out should one have the time or inclination. More time to drive? Do check our list of 10 best day trips from London within an hour drive.