Sunday 24 August 2014

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London - Great for the family

If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that I love to get the family out to explore new places. We don’t have to go anywhere fancy or spend loads of money, the fun for us is in the discovering something new and exploring where we have not been before.

Or in this case where some of us have been before. Last weekend on my birthday we headed along to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, London. This of course is the home of the London Olympic games from 2012 and my husband and children all went to watch one of the Paralympic events whilst I was at work back in 2012.

They reliably inform me that whilst a couple of landmarks still remain and mean they can recognise this as the Olympic site generally the park has undergone such a massive redevelopment that is really is very different. One of the great legacies of having the Olympics here means that the area is very easy to access by public transport and there is also a massive multi-story car park, so you can travel in whatever way suits you. The Westfield shopping centre is also right on the parks doorstep and there is something there for everyone, what a wonderful cornucopia of shops, restaurants, street performers, fun activities and relaxing space.

First off there is no fee to enter the park and you can spend as much or as little time there as a you fancy. We arrived about 3pm and stayed until near 8pm and in that time we hardly even touched the surface of what is available, so I will happily go back again.

I often think that pictures tell a better story than words, so let me share with you some of the sights of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. First, the dancing fountains, which children were having so much fun with and there was plenty of bench seating around the outside for the adults. As the day was a bit chilly and we did not come prepared with towels our kids stayed pretty dry and had fun avoiding the water sprays!

The park itself is a visual feast, between all the enormous buildings that housed the games you have walkways that have beautiful planting and interesting things to look at - walls with blocks that turn, large wooden sun loungers and interactive areas where you can learn about some of the medals that were won by Team GB in the games.

Such a lovely birthday spending time with my family and I had the most delicious piece of banana cake and latte from one of the stalls selling food at the park. Of course they were not cheap, but I didn't really expect them to be here and JJ was super happy with his Nutella waffle, which set me back £4.00.

We found two good play areas as we explored, one right by the main heart of the park (close to the original stadium) and this had a variety of climbing areas, swings, slides, climbing walls and a fab sandpit.

The second one was a much further walk (down the canal, over the road and past the wetlands) on the north side of the park and by the time we got there it was deserted but we could see what fun it would be when there are lots of kids. There are water pumps which pump water down a big slope and you can build dams to stop the water. There is also a big rope bridge, sandpit, swing, wobble boards and balance beams.

As I mentioned earlier there really is so much to see and do here and it is a great place to be able to talk to your children about the Olympics and what they meant for this part of London. Next time we go and visit the 560 acre site I'm going to print off some of the trails for us to follow, there are kid specific ones, ones to follow the Olympic trail and an art one too.

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