A family day out at Kew Gardens

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Kew Gardens from above

Its vast grounds are a sanctuary for nature lovers, but can Kew Gardens in London provide a fun-filled family day out, too? Katy Stern, the family blogger behind ‘Otis and Us’, took advantage of her unlimited entry courtesy of Boundless membership to find out

The magic of spring is in the air at Kew Gardens, with vibrant daffodils and stunning magnolia just starting to bloom. Walking though the entrance into the peaceful gardens, I see why Kew’s stunning botanical gardens, incredible landscapes and rare plants make it one of London’s most popular attractions – and largest UNESCO site. We’ve visited London regularly over the years but never brought our children, aged 7, 9 and 13, to visit Kew before. 

Where is Kew Gardens?

Mother and two children walking at Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens is a beautiful botanic garden in south-west London’s borough of Richmond upon Thames. Travelling from the Midlands, we travel by train to London Euston and then take the overground, changing at Willesden Junction. The gardens are just 500m from Kew Gardens station, making it easily accessible by public transport.

What to see and do at Kew Gardens

Flowers at Kew Gardens

We arrive before 10am and enjoy a slow meander around the independent shops, restaurants and cafés in the picturesque village. The kids love the traditional book shop. 

With more than 300 acres to explore, and 50,000 living plants to find in the different themed areas, Kew Gardens is perfect for a family day out. Armed with a map, our first stop is the Palm House, where we transport ourselves into the rainforest and discover many plants that are endangered in the wild, such as the cocoa tree.

A taste of the Med – the Mediterranean Garden

Father and child walking in greenhouse at Kew Gardens

Next we head to the Mediterranean Garden and King William’s Temple. The children pause to read all the informative signs, learning that King William’s Temple was built in 1837, but sadly the King died before it was finished so it was presented to Queen Victoria and dedicated to the King’s memory. 

The Temperate House is another favourite. Home to over 3,000 plants from Asia, Australasia, the Americas and Africa, we love accessing the additional content about the Temperate House by scanning the QR code and logging onto the free WiFi – it’s a great feature and keeps the kids engaged.

A head for heights – the Treetop walkway

Children at Kew Gardens

Towering 18 metres above the ground, our next stop is the Treetop Walkway. For any adventurous kids who love to explore, this offers an opportunity to get closer to the Kew trees and glimpse life in the forest canopies.

After walking around the gardens for two and a half hours, it’s easy to see how you can spend a day here. There are so many natural play spaces dotted around the gardens including fallen tree trunks to climb and sit on, meadows to run around, and woodlands of the world to play hide and seek. It’s a huge natural playground, giving children the freedom to explore, climb, play and enjoy the great outdoors.

The Children’s Garden

Childrens Garden at Kew Gardens

The shrieks and requests to visit the Children’s Garden are getting louder, so I’m sadly dragged away from admiring the most beautiful spring magnolia (my favourite) to explore the fun elements in this specially designed garden. Watching the kids wandering through the spinning wildflowers, jumping over the giant pollen spheres, bouncing on the trampolines and swinging in the hammocks, it’s apparent that this is going to be our base for the remainder of our visit.

The garden is the size of 40 tennis courts, allowing children the freedom to explore the elements with an Earth Garden, Air Garden, Sun Garden and Water Garden. These have been beautifully designed around the core theme that plants require these four elements to grow and flourish. Our youngest adventurer loves to climb, and he spent a good hour doing just that, as well as running, exploring and generally weaving his way around this unique and interactive play area.

The children’s sensory garden is designed primarily for children aged 2 to 12 years and is a lovely safe and educational area for kids to learn and play, offering playhouses, slides, sand pits, hammocks, climbing frames and tunnels. 

We love the Air Garden the most, possibly because of the hammocks and trampolines, periscope and vibrant windmill flowers, which are my favourite – and a cheering reminder that spring is in the air. 

Where to eat and drink at Kew Gardens

Family posing by tree at Kew Gardens

If you need to refuel, there are plenty of places to eat and drink, including the Family Kitchen and shop near the children’s play area. The Botanical Brasserie, with an indoor and outdoor terrace looks gorgeous as we walk past – but as we have a rucksack filled with drinks, lunch and snacks, we resist temptation and stop for a picnic instead.

The sun is shining, and despite a cold chill in the air, our cheeks are rosy and our hearts full. There is something special about Kew Gardens, and we found it the perfect place for a memorable family day out.

With spring just around the corner, and the promise of longer days and milder weather, we hope to return to Kew Gardens again soon – and with the unlimited entry to Kew that comes with Boundless membership, it’s perfectly possible.  

Do more with Boundless

Boundless members get free or discounted entry to top attractions, discounts on restaurants and savings on high-street brands plus dozens of other deals on holidays, experiences and more. If you're working or retired from the public sector or civil service and not yet a member, discover more about Boundless membership here.

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