April 27 2010 by Bridget Daly
With the onset of spring and summer just around the corner, my favorite place to be in London is in one of the many outdoor parks and gardens. What better way to get a sense of the people and take in the history along the way?
Hyde Park is one of the most popular parks. On a beautiful day you will see boats and even swimmers in Serpentine Lake. I found it particularly charming to see horse and riders roaming this central London Park. Also, if you like to "get on your soapbox" then you have to visit Speaker's Corner near Marble Arch where anyone can get up on a soapbox and address the crowds. The kids will love the Princess Diana Memorial Garden playground at Kensington Gardens, a continuation of Hyde Park.
Regent's Park also has a large boating lake, and in the summer the open-air theater offers captivating Shakespearean performances. If the kids are with you, be sure and take in the London Zoo located in Regent's Park. The Georgian terraces designed by renowned architect, John Nash, surround Regent's Park, giving it an air of graceful charm.
London workers and tourists enjoy lunchtime concerts in the bandstand at St. James's Park during the summer. St. James's Park is also the best spot in London to sit by the lake and watch the waterfowl. Green Park is another popular midday retreats for busy Londoner's looking to relax in the shade of the big trees.
Since I am looking forward to lots of time in London this year, a little digging led me to discover the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon in October. I mention it now because this is apparently a popular event and registration for this October event fills up fast. I am generally not up for distance running but might be prompted to walk this event because the route looks interesting. It takes you by Buckingham Palace, through St. James Park, past the houses of Parliament, the London Eye, the Blackfriars Bridge, through Green Park and all over Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. Another plus to this event is the Brakes Food & Fitness Festival in Hyde Park on race day. I am looking forward to browsing the stalls in the Farmers Market, sampling local food and enjoying the activities and entertainment including live music and competitions.