Like a bit of pretty with your city? A trip to Kew Gardens will fit the bill. With glasshouses and galleries, this Richmond icon has to be one of the world’s most beautiful botanical gardens. More than just a place to lay the picnic blanket down, you’ll find bluebell woods, an impressive orchid collection and even a treetop walkway to keep the kids amused. But the Gardens aren’t just steeped in greenery, they’re full of history and heritage, too. Dating back to the 18th century, the parents of George III started the garden as it surrounded their famous royal residence, Kew Palace. Later, the Victorian era saw the arrival of Palm House and Temperate House, the world's largest Victorian greenhouse. Today, Kew Gardens are visited by millions every year and, if you’re staying in one of our London hotels, you could be one of them!
If the kids want a little adventure, take them to the Badger Sett at the south end of the Gardens. Your little explorers can discover how badgers live by navigating their way through a maze of their tunnels. Get them to look out for the wooden sculpture of a chilled-out badger as they make their way out!
Open all-year round except for 24 and 25 December, Kew Gardens has everything you need for a great day trip.
The Gardens open at 10am each day, with closing times that vary throughout the year, from 4pm in winter to 7pm in summer. The car park opens at 9.30am and shuts 30 minutes after the Gardens close. There are four gates (Elizabeth, Lion, Victoria and Brentford) by which you can enter Kew Gardens, some of which are closer to Kew Gardens and Richmond underground stations than others.
Tickets cost just under £20 for adults, £5 for children, when you buy them at the gate. Buying online is cheaper, plus it lets you side-step the queues at Victoria Gate. Online tickets are flexible too, and let you visit at anytime within 30 days from the date you select when you book. Picnics are allowed throughout the Gardens - but don’t try to lay the blanket down at one of the glasshouses or galleries.
Nothing beats finishing a day trip with some souvenirs to take home. And there’s not one but three gift shops on site - the Victoria Plaza shop at Victoria Gate, the White Peaks children’s shop near Brentford Gate, the Galleries gift shop at Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art. All are bursting with gifts, outdoor plants, gardening books and lots of Kew-related gifts in the form of tea towels and tote bags.
The Gardens are mostly flat with tarmac paths. Most of the buildings, and all the cafés and shops have level or ramped access.In addition, the Gardens offer free entry for essential carers and those who are registered blind or partially-sighted visitors. Concession tickets are available for those with a disability. Wheelchair users can access the Treetop Walkway via a lift, and there are mobility scooters available to hire.
With over 14,000 trees to hug, you could spend the day here lost in nature. Wander through glasshouses full of plants, flowers and trees from all over world or head to The Hive - a unique installation that tells the story of bees and honey through an immersive experience.
To see everything Kew has to offer, join one of the free guided walking tours. With themes such as ‘Tremendous Trees’ or ‘Introduction to the Gardens’, they take place daily, and there’s also a ‘Meet the Experts’ tour every Tuesday, where you get to meet some of the talented people who help to take care of the place.
With something new to see every season, the exhibition diary is always changing. In spring you can visit the listed building of Waterlily House while in summer you can visit the patterned flower beds at Palm House. Come winter, prepare to blown away by the lights and festive displays at the ‘Christmas at Kew’ event.
The whole family will love braving the Treetop Walkway, a heart-stopping 18 metres above the ground. Made from over 400 tonnes of weathered steel by the people who created the London Eye not only is it great (if a bit wobbly) fun, it gives you a fantastic insight into the ecosystem of the forest canopy - and some ace views.
Feeling chilly? Head to the Palm House where temperatures are always tropical! Kew’s most recognisable building is also the world’s most important surviving Victorian glass and iron structure. Inside the rainforest climate supports a fascinating collection of endangered tropical plants - some are even extinct in the wild.
Whether you’re kicking through the leaves in autumn or admiring the blossom in spring, all that fresh air has an uncanny knack of building up an appetite. Luckily there are a range of options, both inside Kew Gardens and beyond.
After a day strolling the gardens, you can grab a bite to eat at one of the eateries within the grounds. Family friendly White Peaks Cafe includes a menu of ice-cream, lunchboxes and craft pies while the Victorian Plaza Cafe offers sweet treats and gourmet sandwiches. For something a little heartier, grab a hot pot at the Orangery Restaurant or something from the grill at the Pavilion Restaurant during the warmer months.
Nearby, there’s an ASK Italian and a Pizza Express, but if you really wanted to push the boat out after your day at Kew Gardens, why not try The Glasshouse? This Michelin-star restaurant has a fabulous British-meets French menu. Alternatively, head to Q Verde for all your favourite Italian dishes. Located in Kew it’s renowned for its warm and friendly atmosphere whatever time of the day you visit.
Sitting next to the River Thames and just 10 miles from West London, public transport options are numerous. If a trip to Kew Gardens is on the agenda on your city break, why not book a room at the Premier Inn hotel near Kew Gardens for convenience?
Parking at Kew costs £7 a day - pop TW9 3AF into your sat nav. There is free parking after 10am on Kew Road but it can get busy.
Buses 237 and 267 stop at Kew Bridge station. The 391 and 65 also stop here and can be picked up between Fulham and Richmond.
Kew Gardens underground station on the District line is just 300 metres away from the Victoria Gate entrance.
By river boat
During summer, Thames River Boats run from Westminster Pier to Kew Pier which is around 500 metres from the Elizabeth Gate entrance.
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