St James’s Park, the oldest Royal Park in London, occupies 58 acres of prime land right in the center of the city.
The west end of the park runs from the edge of Horseguards Parade and the Foreign Office to Buckingham Palace. The park is bordered on its north side by the Mall and on the south by Birdcage Walk.
St James’s Park offers a tranquil haven from sightseeing around the Westminster and Buckingham Palace area. On Sundays, the Mall on its northern side is closed to automotive traffic, making it an even greater respite.
A lake runs almost the entire length of the park, and the Blue Bridge across the middle offers wonderful views of Buckingham Palace, the Horseguards Parade and the London Eye. The lake attracts a great deal of bird life; in addition to rare Tawny Owls and huge, tame Great White Pelicans, around the lake you’ll see nesting sites for 15 different types of waterbirds, including well-fed geese and ducks.
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The park is popular with walkers and joggers, but benches are spread all along the paths in case you should desire a rest. Alternatively, deckchairs are available for rent from March to October, weather permitting.
On the north side of the lake (towards the Horseguards Parade), you’ll find a restaurant called Inn The Park. The Inn features a curved timber building with a turf roof and views over the lake, as well as few menu ingredients, like crab apples for jelly, that have been harvested from within the park grounds. Inn The Park is open seven days a week: breakfast is 8am-11am, lunch 12pm-3pm, and afternoon tea 3pm-4:30.
Throughout the year, you can take a number of guided walks around the park. Visit this web page to see a schedule and reserve a place.
St James’s Park also features a play area for smaller children and toilet facilities for disabled visitors.
The park is open from 5am-midnight, all year round. St James’s Park, Charing Cross and Green Park are the nearest Tube stations.
Photo credit: Planet Ware