A roundup of my favourite St Albans parks if you’re looking for a great family day out and fab family photos!
After reading an article about the benefits of outdoor play for children, I thought I’d put together a list of the best parks in St Albans. Obviously, being a family photographer and a Mum to a very active young boy, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the local parks.
Some of these are pretty well known, others a little more off the beaten track. Do let me know if you discover your new favourite in this list!
A great family day out
I absolutely love spending time outside with my boys at the weekend so if your family are the same then I hope these recommendations will be of use to you.
Truthfully, I had trouble narrowly it down. Between all the great parks further afield like Lee Valley Regional Park, Denham Country Park, Fairland Valley Park, Canons Park, Rothamstead Park, Cassiobury Park and so on you see I could have made this a very long post! (Maybe I’ll write a wider Hertfordshire post another day!!)
Here are my boys having fun in the park not that long ago…
1) Verulamium Park
This is the attraction in St Albans, so I’m sure you’ve been here at least once. It’s such a beautiful park, with great views of the cathedral, the big lake and a lot of outdoor space, it’s worth a visit as there is something to entertain everyone. If your children like scooting or biking then the well-maintained paths will definitely appeal to you. For the sportier among you, there are tennis courts, basket ball courts and it’s the home of Saturday morning’s Park Run. During the warm days the splash park is a great place to cool off (but does get busy).
There is something very relaxing about taking a stroll round the water, enjoying watching the swans and geese do their thing and taking in a bit of history at the same time.
We often take out of town visitors to Verulamium Park because it’s the site of the old Roman town. As such, the Verulamium Museum and the hypocaust are well worth a visit for history buffs, but also, it’s awesome to simply wander along the remainder of the Roman wall.
When your kids are tired of feeding the ducks and using the amazing new Roman playground, there is the Inn on the Park for a cheeky ice-cream. At the other side of the park you can find the oldest pub in England, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, for a tipple or lunch. Alternatively, you’re right on town’s doorstep to explore everything going on there.
You definitely need to check out Verulamium Park if you’ve not explored this Hertfordshire gem.
2) Clarence Park
The big benefit of Clarence Park is the sizeable playground with big sandpit. It can get busy on hot days (but then there is usually an ice cream truck around!) but my son absolutely loves it.
This park has lots of big trees which are great for climbing and picnicking under. The wide, flat paths also make it the perfect park for scooters and bikes. There is a relatively big loop around the main park and cricket fields which usually is enough to exhaust my son, but not far enough to start him moaning! There is a restaurant called Verdi’s in the corner of the park that does a good pizza and has an ice cream stand in the summer.
Clarence Park boasts other facilities like toilets (of course) and a large cricket pitch so there is often something sport based to watch if that takes your fancy, not to mention it’s home to the local football team’s stadium . The cricket pavilion also offers co-working days for small businesses from time to time.
3) Highfield Park
I am a little partial to Highfield Park because it’s right on my doorstep and I walked my beloved pooch around the park for many years. Highfield is pretty large so you can visit all the time and still find new trails to explore. One of my favourite areas is the Windfield Woods which are blanketed with bluebells in spring. My newest find is an adorable little pond in a back corner so even after exploring for five years I can still find new areas!
Be warned! The paths aren’t as well maintained here so it isn’t our favourite scooter location. However, the park makes up for it with activities like the little tree maze, football pitches or the petanque court. Overall though, it’s the most wonderful place to just enjoy being outside. I love the Millennium Forest, especially in summer. The trees and grasses are taller than me and I weave in and out of paths feeling like I’m in another world!
Check out the Highfield Park Trust website for all the events that they run – there are always lots of child focused activities on during school holidays.
4) Heartwood Forest
Heartwood Forest is managed by the Woodland Trust and is the largest continuous new forest in England. There are miles and miles to explore. If your children like animals you’ll often see dog walkers and horses on the trails.
There is simply no green space around St Albans that can rival Heartwood Forest. If your family enjoys biking, (dog) walking or horse riding then make sure you spend a weekend down here as soon as possible. The Magical Wood is being developed as a child friendly play area and the den building is already a huge hit with kids!
My favourite thing about Heartwood is that it looks totally different at different times of year – sometimes it is awash with wild flower meadows, other times long grass or bluebells. It makes it beautiful to visit at any time of year.
5) The Wick Nature Reserve
The Wick is located in the Marshalswick area of St Albans. If you didn’t know it was there, you’d probably drive right past the entrance gate!
There isn’t much to do here in terms of organised activities but it’s a great space for children to run around. It feels like a little Julia Donaldson inspired world that Stick Man might jump out of any moment. There are plenty of fallen trees to climb on, wildlife to spot and paths to run on.
There is a small playground and a playing field. I think that it’s a park better suited to being on foot. If you want to scoot or bike, check out some of the recommendations above.
So there it is, the five best parks in St Albans. I hope you’ve discovered a little gem that you didn’t know about from this list. Have I missed out some green space or a park that really deserves a space on my best parks in St Albans list? Then please do let me know! I always love exploring and finding new places.
Happy outdoor exploring!
You can see more of my work in my family photography portfolio and make sure you have a read of this blog post and get all your family in the frame! If you want a photoshoot at any of these fun locations, get in touch using the form below and I’ll get back to you ASAP.