Ok, so the weather in the United Kingdom is not typically known to be scorching hot year-round but come the summer months and we do experience the odd hot day!
When it’s feeling hot, hot, hot in the city then the best place to be is by the water. Take a break from sightseeing and head to one of the following London splash parks, water play areas and outdoor pools instead.
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Map Key: Splash parks are marked in purple and the pools in blue.
Keep Cool at these London Splash Parks
Table of Contents
Don’t forget to bring a swimsuit and / or change of clothes plus a towel with you!
The Appearing Rooms on the South Bank
The wonderful Appearing Rooms on the South Bank is one of the best outdoor splash parks in London. Designed by Danish artist Jeppe Hein, the jets of water shoot from the ground seemingly at random, creating ‘rooms’ as they rise and fall. Work out the algorithm and you may be able to standing within the walls of water without getting wet (spoiler: it’s almost impossible to solve the algorithmic challenge!). The jets of water are soft, however, meaning that the splash pool is suitable for younger kids too.
The Appearing Rooms play fountains stand outside the Southbank Centre (you’ll hear the joyful cries of children before you spot the splash pool itself!). They open early June and run until 3 September from Wednesday to Sunday 10am – 9pm – perfect for the school holidays. Do bring shoes that the kids can wear in the fountain and they area asked to wear either a t-shirt over their swimming costume or a rash vest.
The Granary Square Fountains
We love the fountains at Granary Square. On a sunny day, this corner of Kings Cross transforms into an urban beach with hundreds of happy kids running in and out of the jets of water. There are 1,080 jets, individually controlled, providing hours and hours of fun. Visit at dusk when the fountains are illuminated with multicoloured lights for some fun family photo opportunities. This really is one of the best water parks in London.
On hot days and during the summer holidays you’ll often find a Ruby Violet ice cream van handily parked just near the fountains. During the school holidays and weekends the fountains are packed but visit during term time and it’s a lot less crowded.
Kensington Memorial Park
You can easily spend the whole day at Kensington Memorial Park. As well as tennis courts, a football field and a newly refurbished children’s playground with a sand pit, there’s a fantastic enclosed water playground and splash pool area. Expect lots of fun water features here including sprinklers and buckets for getting well and truly soaked. It’s completely free to use and there are changing rooms and a kiosk during summer months.
The waterplay will open in two-hour sessions to allow for additional cleaning and system checks throughout the day.
The session times will be as follows except Tuesdays when we open later at 12pm:
- Session 1: 10:30am to 12:30pm
- Session 2: 1pm to 3pm
- Session 3: 3.30pm to 5:30pm
On Tuesday the sessions will be:
- Session 1: 12pm to 1.30pm
- Session 2: 2pm to 3.30pm
- Session 3: 4pm to 5.30pm
The water play will close between sessions for extra cleaning and maintenance.
John Madejski Garden Fountains, V&A Museum
Once you’ve finished exploring the galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington, one of London’s many free museums, head to the John Madejski Garden. In the centre of the museum’s peaceful central courtyard stands a stepped elliptical pool that’s perfect for some gentile splashing (forget bringing any water guns here!). The steps make it perfect for younger kids to enjoy and there’s a cafe in the gardens too, perfect for a post paddle ice cream.
Diana Memorial Fountain, Hyde Park
Located in Hyde Park on the banks of the Serpentine River is this memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales. Constructed from 545 pieces of Cornish granite, it was designed “to express Diana’s spirit and love of children” with water flowing in two directions and meeting in a calm pool at the bottom. It’s a particularly fun London splash park for younger children who can toddle and wade to their heart’s content. Bring a picnic and enjoy an afternoon here.
Leicester Square Fountains
If you need to cool down while in the heart of the city then head to the Leicester Square Fountains. Not far from Covent Garden in the heart of the West End, this fountain sits under a 19th-century statue of Shakespeare with water jets shooting up at different heights. It’s a great place for kids to keep keep cool on sunny days.
More London Fountains
Enjoy a splash with a view at More London Fountains that sit almost alongside Tower Bridge on the South Bank. There are over 200 jets of water spurting, spouting and generally bringing much joy to the many kids jumping around.
Located in south east London, the Natural Play Area Elephant Springs got its name from Elephant & Castle and is a wonderful urban escape on sunny days.
This is very much a community park where everyone is invited and has been designed to feel very much at one with nature. Water cascades down rock formations into channels perfect for splashing. The various water effects include hand operated “village” pumps and jets that you can chase or spurt, and others that you dance around. And, as with any good London splash park, there are jets of water that spout unannounced, drenching unsuspecting visitors in the process.
Remember your bucket and spade when you visit, too, as the nearby sand pits are perfect for building.
Edmond J Safra Fountain Court, Somerset House
The Edmond J Safra Fountain Court stands in the centre of Somerset House and is a great place to cool down on a hot day. Surrounded by Neoclassical buildings, it’s a pretty spot to splash about – 55 jets spurt intermittently resulting in shrieks of delight from kids of all ages. There’s also a cafe here so you can grab a coffee while the kids play.
Diana Memorial Playground
One of London’s best playgrounds is also home to a fun water and sand play area. Beneath the enormous wooden pirate ship, the heart of the Diana Memorial Playground, is a sandy area with water channels fed from hand-operated pumps creating pools and streams for kids to play around in. This is best suited to younger kids.
The playground operates a child-and-adult-entry policy meaning that you can only enter if you’re accompanying a child. There’s also a kiosk selling ice cream for a post-splash treat.
Merchant Square Fountains
One of the best things to do in Paddington with kids is to take them to Merchant Square and the Water Maze for an afternoon of paddling and splashing fun. Some 320 water jets have been placed in three spiralling circles and the challenge, if you dare, is to make your way through them without getting wet. There’s plenty of space on the grassy lawns nearby to sit and keep an eye on the kids as you stay dry.
Merchant Square is also home to the Floating Pocket Park a 700 sq m of green space that floats on Paddington Basin. With benches, green lawns, flowerbeds and even a special ramp for the ducks, the floating park is a great place to stop for a picnic lunch on sunny days.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Splash Fountains
Located to the south of Olympic Park, very close to the ArcelorMittal Slide (a hit with teens in London) are the Olympic Park Splash Fountains (also known as the Waterworks Fountains). These 195 individual water jets are great fun for the whole family. Stand between the winding pathway of the fountains and you’ll find yourself surrounded by computer-controlled walls of water – see if you an find a way out without getting too wet!
The fountains operate daily from 10am – 5pm from March – October, except on major event days.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is also home to a great playground as well as the Olympic Aquatics Centre with a fantastic indoor pool and Aqua Splash, a fun inflatable obstacle course with water slides.
Russell Square Garden Fountain
In the heart of central London is Russell Square, one of only three London squares designed by Humphry Repton, described as the last great English landscape designer of the eighteenth century. It retains many of its original features including the horseshoe-shaped path and lime walk.
What’s a little different today is the bubbling fountain that sits in the centre of the square and is a favourite spot to cool off for kids walking through the gardens. This fountain is not large but its perfect for a paddle and to cool off on a hot summer’s day.
Greenwich Park Playground
There’s been a playground in Greenwich Park since the 1940s although the facilities today look a lot different from the original designs. Today a maritime theme runs through the playground offering children of all ages and abilities fun, creative play opportunities including a basket swing and a roundabout. Natural materials including logs, rope and bark have been incorporated in the design to reflect the park’s landscape.
The best area on a sunny day, however is the sand and water play area which features a boulder-strewn channel fed with water from hand-operated pumps. There are small gates in the channel bed allowing the water to be dammed and create shallow pools perfect for splashing and playing. It’s great fun and the perfect trip after a visit to one of the nearby museums such as the National maritime Museum or the Cutty Sark.
Union Park Splash Pad
Union Park South in Wembley Park was once a car park but is today is a large park in northwest London offering locals and visitors respite from the urban sprawl. The best corner for kids is the splash pad and play area with a shallow paddling pool. There are also fountains in Arena Square which bubble and spout when events aren’t on.
Danson Splash Park
Located in Bexleyheath, south-east London, the Danson Splash Park has a fun interactive area with plenty of water features to keep kids busy. As well as the splash park there’s a fun playground, a welcoming picnic area and a lake with rowboats for hire.
The splash park is open from May to September.
Barking Splash Park
You’ll need to travel outside of central London to get to this splash park but it’s well worth the journey. The Barking Splash Park London is a truly splashtastic water park located in the heart of Barking Park. There are dozens of fountains to play in with water jets spouting at different interval, a dance-loving park mascot, Splashy, and walk-on-water balls.
The park is also home to Bounsea, an enormous bouncy castle, and the Magical Unicorn Lake where you can hire unicorn pedal boats for a trip around the lake. The nearest station if travelling by train is Barking.
Thorpe Lakes Aqua Park
Out past Hampton Court Palace is Thorpe Lakes Aqua Park, an enormous inflatable assault course that everyone – particularly older kids – will love. Run, bounce, tumble and jump as you make your way across this bouncy course. The minimum age for unaccompanied children is 8 although children aged 6 can take part providing they are accompanied by an adult.
The park also runs under 13 and under 16 sessions throughout the day when adults will not be allowed on (unless accompanying younger kids).
The Aqua Park gets very busy during the summer season and at weekends so make sure to book well in advance.
London’s Best Outdoor Pools
London is also home to some great outdoor pools (as well as family-friendly hotels with swimming pools), the following are some of our favourites.
Parliament Hill Lido
Located in North London, the Parliament Hill Lido is a glorious 50m unheated outdoor lido on the edge of Hampstead Heath. It first opened in 1938 and is famous for its stainless steel bottom. It’s open-year round and has a loyal number of cold water swimmers doing laps daily.
The nearest tube is Gospel Oak
Park Road Lido
Located in Crouch End, Park Road is another 50m outdoor lido that’s been welcoming swimmers for decades (it will celebrate its centenary in 2026!). Unlike Parliament Hill, however, this lido is heated. There’s a small children’s leisure pool outside next to the main lido as well. Check timings for the main pool as mornings are dedicated to lane swimming.
Tooting Bec Lido
In south London there’s Tooting Bec Lido, the largest open-air swimming pool in the UK measuring 90m in length. Amazingly, it was built in just four months in the spring of 1906. It was originally known as Tooting Bathing Lake and was designed partly as a place for locals to bathe as very few homes had their own bathrooms at the time.
Brockwell Lido, Brockwell Park
The 50m Brockwell Lido is surrounded by Grade II Art Deco buildings home to the Lido Cafe as well as exercise studios. In next-door Brockwell Park there’s a playground with a water and sand area too.
Positioned in the heart of Greenwich is Charlton Lido, a beautiful 50m pool that underwent an enormous £2 million refurbishment. Today the swimming pool is heated and enjoys two sun terraces with a cafe for that post-swim coffee.
London Fields Lido
If the sun’s out you can guarantee that London Fields Lido will be busy. Located in the heart of Hackney this 50m outdoor swimming pool is a favourite with locals and visitors alike. Mornings are dedicated to lane swimming so check the timetable carefully before booking.
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