What are the best things to do in Richmond Park, London’s wildlife oasis?

Is your screen time seriously outshining your sunshine time? Are you craving a break from the buzz of notifications and the cityscape? Time to answer the call of the wild (well, sort of wild). 

Richmond Park (the city’s largest Royal Park), awaits – a sprawling oasis of green goodness where you can stroll, cycle, or just sit back and soak up the simple life.

In it, you can trade swiping for skylines and the hum of traffic for birdsong. If you’re interested in that, good – because we’re about to dive into our staff’s favourite ways to experience this glorious park.

Visit King Henry’s Mound for a historic viewpoint

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Open hours: Open 24 hours

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This once-sacred Bronze Age burial site has been a coveted royal lookout – a stage for hunting, falconry, and even a dash of Tudor drama. Legend has it that a restless King Henry VIII stood atop this very spot, awaiting the grim signal that would seal Anne Boleyn’s fate. 

But the true star is the protected view. Look east, and your gaze sweeps across London, landing on the iconic dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral. 

Yep – that view’s literally protected. Law forbids modern construction from obstructing this historic panorama, which offers a unique glimpse into the city’s past.

Explore the Isabella Plantation

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Open hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 7:30 AM to 5:15 PM

Website

One of the best gardens in London, the Isabella Plantation is a 40-acre floral fiesta with a side of wildlife watching. Think dazzling displays of evergreen azaleas, rhododendrons, and camellias (because who doesn’t love a flower with a fancy name?). 

But it’s not just about the blooms – ponds, streams, and a bog garden attract a whole crew of birds, bats, and over 130 types of butterflies and moths.

History buffs will also love the National Plant Collection of Kurume azaleas from Japan set amidst the Victorian woodland. Best part? This nature haven is free, and they prioritise accessibility with motorised wheelchairs and multiple entrances.

Watch the iconic deer herds roam freely

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Dust off your binoculars – Richmond Park offers a real-life wildlife documentary, starring over 600 red and fallow deer! These majestic creatures aren’t just park decorations either. They’re descendants of deer introduced by King Charles I himself in 1637. 

Watching them graze across the park’s sprawling meadows and ancient woodlands is like stepping back in time. It’s a scene relatively unchanged since the 17th century, except for maybe your snazzy smartphone replacing a quill for capturing the moment.

Cycle around the park

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Richmond Park is a fantastic spot for cyclists of all levels. If you feel ambitious, the Tour de Richmond Park is a 10.9 km loop with a mix of rolling hills and the challenge of Broomfield Hill. For a relaxed pace and family-friendly ride, try the 12 km flat loop instead.

Both routes are well-maintained, guiding you through 2,500 acres of diverse landscapes – think meadows, woodlands, and ponds. It’s a chance to reconnect with nature without having to leave London.

Picnic by the serene Pen Ponds

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Open hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Website

These twin lakes offer a stunning backdrop, and you never know what creatures might join you – from elegant swans to playful squirrels, there’s always a chance for a delightful wildlife encounter.

Need a last-minute snack or some refreshing drinks? The nearby Pen Ponds Café saves the day with sandwiches, tempting treats, and something to quench your thirst. 

Fly a kite on a breezy day at the open fields

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Open hours: 

  • Monday to Friday – 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Website

Flying a kite in Richmond Park is a timeless way to connect with nature and embrace a little playful physics. Whether you’re a seasoned kite-flyer or a gleeful newbie, the park’s rolling fields and breezy days offer the perfect setting.

But before you let your creation soar, check those pockets for a permit – this park takes kite-flying seriously! To ensure safety and protect wildlife, they have a permit system for more complex kite activities (think kite buggying or those elaborate multi-line creations).  

Just swing by Holly Lodge within the park for the latest regulations and to obtain a permit if needed.

Play a round of golf at the public golf course

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Open hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM

Website

Richmond Park Golf Course offers a unique golfing experience steeped in history and natural beauty. With its two 18-hole courses, the Prince’s and Duke’s, it caters to all skill levels, promising a memorable round amidst the park’s rolling landscapes.

If you’re new to the sport, the shorter Prince’s Course provides a forgiving start. Now, if you’re a seasoned player seeking a challenge, then you’ll love the Duke’s Course with its strategic hazards and longer layout.

Oh, and Richmond Park operates on a pay-and-play basis, welcoming everyone for a round. However, regular golfers might appreciate the membership options for frequent play.

Visit the ornate Ham House

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Open hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Website

Craving a history fix with a side of grandeur? Look no further than Ham House, a 17th-century stunner perched on the edge of Richmond Park. This National Trust gem isn’t just a pretty facade – it’s a portal straight to the lavish world of Stuart England.

Each room here whispers stories of power players, political intrigue, and maybe even a resident ghost (the Duchess of Lauderdale herself is rumoured to haunt the corridors!).

Admission ranges from £14 to £15.40 for adults, but trust us, it’s an investment in a truly unique experience. Also, make sure to top off your visit at one of the most charming cafes in London, Orangery Cafe!

Have lunch at Petersham Nurseries

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Open hours: 

  • Sunday to Wednesday – 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM
  • Thursday to Saturday – 12:00 PM to 11:00 PM

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Forget typical restaurants – Petersham Nurseries offers a dining experience that’s as enchanting as it is sustainable. This culinary gem, awarded a prestigious Michelin Green Star, celebrates nature’s bounty with a menu that changes with the seasons. 

The setting steals the show: dine within a glasshouse paradise brimming with lush plants and flowers. Rustic elegance reigns supreme here, with earthy floors and tables amongst the greenery. 

That said, Petersham Nurseries buzzes with well-deserved popularity, so reservations are a must (especially on weekends). 

Grab a cup of coffee at Hollyhock Café

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Open hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM

Website

If you wanna escape the park trails for something sweeter, then Hollyhock Café is the place to be. Think cosy vibes, crackling fires in winter, Thames views in summer, and always the aroma of great coffee.

What sets them apart?  Homemade treats, a warm welcome, and inclusive options (hello, vegans!). Best part? Your coffee helps support adults with learning disabilities. 

Just a heads up: they close early, so don’t let your caffeine escape too late. 

Visit Pembroke Lodge

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Open hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

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Set within 13 acres of manicured grounds, the lodge offers a panoramic peek into the Thames Valley that stretches to Windsor and the rolling Surrey hills. 

After soaking up the scenic splendour, make sure to indulge in a quintessentially British tradition: afternoon tea. Their elegant tea room serves up classic refreshments (The Butler’s Pantry), which makes it a perfect way to unwind after exploring the park’s trails.

Go horse riding at Stag Lodge Stables

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Open hours: 

  • Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday – 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Saturday and Sunday – 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Website

Forget crowded bikes and tired feet – trade those in for a four-legged upgrade! Exploring Richmond Park on horseback is like unlocking a hidden level of adventure, transforming you into an instant nature-exploring VIP. And Stag Lodge Stables is your ticket to riding through this stunning piece of London’s wild side.

Their historic stables offer more than just rides – think horsey boot camps, where you can transform into an equestrian expert, ready to impress your friends (and maybe the park’s deer).

Also, their experienced instructors and trusty steeds will make sure you don’t end up in the dust, guiding you towards becoming a park-exploring pro.

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