If you're thinking of escaping central London's hustle and bustle for the day, there's no better place to clear your head than Surrey's renowned Kew Gardens. Set over 300 acres, your mini adventurers will be spoilt for entertainment from beautiful botanical gardens, tropical rainforests, treetop escapades, thrilling action sports and awesomely inclusive playgrounds. Whether you've got budding photographers, botany buffs or curious scientists, Kew Gardens is one of the best things to do in Surrey and a great day out for all the family! Here, we'll answer everything you need to know to plan your ultimate Kew Gardens trip from the best children's activities to tips on where to park...
A Visionary Adventure Playground
Specifically designed for 2-12 year olds, Kew Gardens' renowned Children's Garden offers an oasis to explore the size of 40 tennis courts! This revolutionary playground is split into four themed areas, each representing a different earthly element essential to the growth of Kew Gardens' bountiful plants. Dig deep in the worm-hole tunnels of the Earth Garden; fly high on the Air Garden's trampolines and hammocks; wander through cherry trees in the sunflower-lined Sun Garden, and get splashing through paddling-pool stepping-stones in the Water Garden. These age-inclusive playgrounds feature everything from 4m high canopy walks for older thrill-seekers and giant plants to slide down or wiggle through for little ones. You can book a 90-minute time slot for the hugely popular Children's Garden for free online, so the only disappointment will be that us adults can't enter ourselves without the children!
Towering The Treetops
Feeling brave? Kew Gardens' impressive Treetop Walkway towers a daring 18 metres above ground so you can get up close and personal with the tallest trees around Kew Gardens, soar amongst their abundance of birds and experience breathtaking views of Kew that will make you feel miles away from London.
Bountiful Botanical Gardens
Set over 300 awe-inspiring acres, Kew Gardens' renowned botanical gardens are their main attraction and a perfect paradise for children with various greenhouses to explore. Travel the world without leaving the iconic Temperate House; home to thousands of global plants, this glorious palace is full of glistening glass and snap-worthy spiral staircases. Delve into the dense indoor tropical rainforest inside the Palm House, or meet the carnivorous plants amongst the ten computer-controlled climate zones of the Princess of Wales Conservatory. Kids will also love the funky futuristic design of the Davies Alpine House, which allows the world's most resilient plants to flourish. Experience high-altitude and some seriously chilly, windy conditions for yourself as you venture into the home of these extreme Arctic flowers!
The Arboretum Is Never A Bore
Surrounding Kew Gardens' gorgeous greenhouses is the not-so-boring Arboretum, home to 14,000 trees with more than 2000 species, some of which can't be found anywhere else in Britain! With its unique landscapes, trails, flora and fauna, kids will love exploring this leafy green haven. Why not really get at-one with nature and delve underground to discover Kew's Giant Badger Sett!
See What All The Buzz Is About
Get your buzz on and experience life as a bee in Kew Gardens' award-winning installation, The Hive. One thousand lights glow to the rhythm of the thousands of bees living amongst the gardens, expertly created to reflect what a real beehive might be like inside for our favourite humble bumblebees. The Hive offers a serious sensory delight for children, but be sure to check its opening availability before you go as it has recently been closed for maintenance!
A Japanese Paradise in London
Discover a whole new world of peace and tranquility amongst the gorgeous Japanese Landscape which lies in Kew Gardens. Be charmed and humbled in its three exquisite gardens, home to trickling waterfalls, serene stone lanterns and essences of traditional Eastern tea gardens. In a completely contrasting rustic diversion, why not wander off the beaten track and discover Kew's traditional Japanese farmhouse nestled deep in the Bamboo forest.
Walk On Water
Flowing amidst the gardens are also fives acres of water dotted with four beautiful islands. Wind your way around the water on the wooden boardwalk-style Lake and Sackler Crossing, which gives access to some of the less visited areas of Kew Gardens.
Spend Every Season at Kew
The eclectic Kew Gardens also boasts tonnes of regular events that are certainly worth a special visit for! You can learn everything you've ever pondering by booking onto one of their garden tours, or gain some extra culture with the innovative installation and photography displays that popping up frequently throughout the year. In winter look out for their famous Christmas at Kew light show, and get ready for festival season with Kew the Music in summer. Currently on this February is the gorgeous Orchid Festival!
Food For Every Mood
There are five diverse cafes to choose from at Kew Gardens, all with tasty children’s menus. The Victoria Gate Cafe and dazzling Orangery serve a great selection of sandwiches and cakes, The Botanical boasts elegant afternoon teas and Pavilion Bar and Grill along Kew Road is the perfect spot for some summer alfresco dining. Our top family pick has to be White Peaks, though, with their imaginatively designed "little adults" menu that will get the kids enjoying their five-a-day in some seriously creative ways. Outside of the park, you can head towards Kew Bridge for classic family-favourites like Pizza Express or ASK Italian on Kew Green.
Parking For Kew Gardens
Securing Kew Gardens parking can be a little tricky as it's sure to be on everybody's London bucket list. Kew's own car park is on Ferry Lane, near the Gardens' Brentford Gate, which costs £7 per day and is open 9:30am-7pm daily (until 8pm on weekends). The car park does tend to fill up pretty quickly though, so we recommend getting there as early as possible to secure parking spaces! Disabled free parking is also available in the car park for those carrying a blue badge. Around Kew Gardens there are also various on-street parking spaces to scope out - whilst restrictions apply on most residential roads, there’s limited free parking on Kew Road after 10am around the Victoria Gate entrance. Kidadler tip - near Kew Gardens there's also a large free car park at Kew Retail Park, just 10-15 minute walk down the road, as well as large car parks at nearby Old Deer Park nearest the Lion Gate. You can then hop on a bus or tube if you can't squeeze into Kew Gardens' parking of find an on-street parking space!
Getting To Kew
Kew Gardens is the nearest tube station and is around a 15-minute walk to Kew Road and the Victoria Gate entrance. Alternatively, Kew Bridge Station and Richmond Station are both handily near Kew Gardens. The park also has bike and coach access if you're taking an alternative route outside London! Kew Gardens has four easy-to-access gates no matter where you're coming from - Elizabeth Gate, Brentford Gate, Lion Gate and the Victoria Gate. Get your Kew Gardens tickets with us ahead of time with children getting in for just £6 and adult entrance tickets for £18 on Kidadl! Senior and Youth discounts are available with us too. Then just grab your Kew Gardens map and get exploring!
Why Not Make A Day Of It?
In case you somehow have some time left after all that fun and want to make the most of your venture outside of London, there's loads more to explore near Kew Gardens! Cross over Kew Bridge to the London Museum of Water and Steam, head South of Kew Road to Pools on the Park, use up any leftover energy at Amanda's Action Play at The Parent Hood, or take your four-legged friends for a treat at dog cafe Paws for Coffee! The local Surrey Food Festival is also coming up in April, which you'd be crazy to miss with our huge 65% off discount code! For more nearby fun, why not check out our 35 essential family days out in Surrey here to make a real weekend of it.
Need More Nature?
If Kew Gardens leaves you reeling and you haven't quite got enough of the great outdoors, then your next day trip beyond London should definitely be to Wakehurst. Also managed by the royal Kew Gardens, why not double up on the family fun and explore the 500 acres of wild woodland awaiting you at this National trust wonder. This enchanting forest is the perfect place to visit if you want to get a bit rough and muddy after the beautifully-kept gardens of Kew. Full of natural play spaces that your kids will adore, you can spend the day hopping the Tree Trunk Trek, losing yourself in the swirling labyrinth and chatting to some talking totem poles! Wakehurst is double the proof that Royal Botanic Gardens Kew are providing the ultimate family experiences in Greater London.
For more tips on family days out in and around London, head to Kidadl.com.