Crystal Palace Park Review: Last weekend Homeboy and I spend the day exploring Crystal Palace and the glorious Grade II* listed park in South London. Crystal Palace Park is packed full of fantastic amenities; these include the life-size dinosaurs, a museum, maze, sports facilities, skatepark, boating lake, an urban farm, and so much more.
The park was designed by Sir Joseph Paxton (Crystal Palace Company) to be the new home to the Crystal Palace, a structure he created to house the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in 1851. The grand Victorian vision for the park was to educate and inspire through discovery and invention, hence the full-scale models of dinosaurs. Sadly, the Crystal Palace building was destroyed by a fire in 1936. In 1937 until 1972 a motor racing circuit was opened in the park. During WW2, it was used for military vehicle dismantling and a site for bomb damage rubble.
Regeneration came in the 1960s when the National Sports Centre and Athletics Stadium opened. The London Borough of Bromley took ownership of the park in 1986 and undertook a program of restoration. Today, the park has many amenities and attractions, which makes it well worth visiting with friends and family.
Crystal Palace Park Highlights
Find out more about the history at the Crystal Palace Museum: Unravel the history of the Crystal Palace structure and how the park was created at this small museum. Photographic images, models and remnants help tell the story. The museum building dates back to 1880 and is the only remaining building by the Crystal Palace Company on the grounds. The museum is open on Sundays from 11 am until 4 pm in the summer with 3 pm closing time during the winter months. Admission is free, but please donate if you can because this is a registered charity. The address is Anerley Hill, SE19 2BA.
Crystal Palace Museum
Marvel at the giant Dinosaurs: My favourite part of the park is the Dinosaurs. Richard Owen (a leading scientist and founder of the Natural History Museum), and Benjamin Hawkins (sculptor and fossil expert) were commissioned to create life-size model dinosaurs. By today’s standards, the dinosaurs are inaccurate, but they were the first of their kind and a magnificent wonder for the Victorians to s. The dinosaurs are grouped in a lovely landscape with water designed by Joseph Paxton.
Get lost in the amazing Maze: The maze is the largest in the country and spans 160 feet in diameter. The maze is free to enter, make sure you don’t get lost in the hedgerows!
Admire the spectacular view of London from the Italian Terraces: You’ll notice Italian terraces as you walk through the park. These give you prime spots to admire the breathtaking views across London. Look out for the sphinxes and other statues.
Join one of the many Walking Routes which go through the Park: The Capital Ring Walk and Green Chain Walk take you through Crystal Palace Park. Look out for the signage when you are in the park.
Talk to the animals at the Urban Farm: Take the kids along to the Capel Manor Farm, which is part of a college. Expect to see pigs, horse and lizards. It is open from 12 noon until 4 pm every day except Wednesdays. You will see lots of ducks at the boating lake.
Peddle around the Boating Lake: Hire a pedalo boat and peddle around the boating lake in style. Boats are available to hire between Easter and October.
Get fit at the National Sports Centre: The NSC includes an impressive gym, three swimming pools, and an indoor running track.
National Sports Centre
Watch the skaters doing tricks at the Skatepark: The 1100 square metre skatepark features a large curved concrete band. During the week and after school, you’ll see hundreds of teens whizzing around on their skateboards and BMX bikes.
Take a picture of the landmark broadcasting transmitter: Officially called the Arqiva Crystal Transmitter, this structure is 219 meters tall. John Logie Baird operated the former television station and transmitter which stood on the same site from 1933. For more information, read the Wikipedia Page.
Bag a bargain at the Crystal Palace Car Boot Sale: Buy antiques, vintage furniture, electrical goods, fashion items and more at the Wednesday Boot Sale. The entrance fee is between £1-3, depending on the time you arrive. The sale starts at 7 am until 1 pm. You will find the Car Boot at Crystal Palace Coach Park South Terraces Gate, Anerley Hill Entrance. The Boot Sale was also previously held on Saturdays although this is currently on hold so check the website for up to date information and closures due to adverse weather conditions.
Car Boot Sale
Treat yourself to tea and cake at the Café: The Brown and Green Life Café gets packed at the weekend. It’s a great place to enjoy a pot of tea and cake after you’ve wandered around the park. During the week it acts as a community hub with yoga, Pilates and other family-friendly activities. The café is near the Thicket Road gate. The toilets are near the café.
Brown and Green Life Cafe
Crystal Palace Park Information
For more information, go to the Crystal Palace Park Website and the Bromley Council Website. For historical details read the Crystal Place Park Wikipedia Page. The park address is Thicket Road, London SE20 8DT but you can enter via various gates. The nearest stations are Crystal Palace and Penge West. If you are travelling by car, you can park at the Thicket Road and Anerley Hill or Crystal Palace Park Road entrances. Opening times are 7.30 am on weekdays, and 9 am at the weekend and bank holidays. The gates close at different times depending on the month. Read my Ten Things To Do In Crystal Palace article for further information on the area and take a look at more photographs at my Love Crystal Palace Pinterest Board. Enjoy your visit.
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Homegirl London. Thanks: Homeboy for visiting with me.