Ah, the great outdoors: we’ve got just the thing for that! Hertfordshire is packed full of parks and open spaces to enjoy the county’s wonderful wildlife. It’s hard to choose our favourites, so instead we’ve picked out some of the best outdoor places that are great for families with young children. How many have you visited?
Best outdoor places in Hertfordshire
Batford Springs Nature Reserve, Harpenden
Batford Springs is a 3.5 hectare nature reserve that is owned and managed by Harpenden Town Council and cared for by a group of volunteers. Running alongside the River Lea, it was set up as a haven for wildlife and as such it’s a tranquil and pretty place to explore with children. The site also has a small wooded area, open grassland, a number of fresh springs, fun stepping stones across the water and a children’s playground off Marquis Lane with picnic tables nearby. Nature quizzes can be picked up from the Gibraltar Castle pub, the Amble Inn or the shop on Station Road. Parking is available on Lower Luton Road.
Cassiobury Park, Watford
A Green Flag Award winning park, Cassiobury has many acres of space that are ideal for a kick-about or kite-flying, with lots of facilities provided by the local council. There are two playground: one near the Cassiobury Hub (by the Langley Way entrance), and another located directly alongside the Cha Cha Cha cafe and arts centre which caters mainly for children and toddlers up to the age of 6. For a small charge children can have a go on the miniture railway (open weekends and school holidays in better weather) and bouncy castle (during the summer). Refreshments can be found at Daisy’s Café in the Hub building. Free parking is also available at Cassiobury Park Car Park, with space for 88 cars. For disabled visitor and their families, there’s a handy changing places toilet & changing room to use on request.
The Cat Survival Trust, Welwyn
Set in twelve acres of Hertfordshire countryside, the Cat Survival Trust is managed and cared for by volunteers. It’s an amazing place that does valuable work looking after around 25 big cats who were ‘unwanted’ by other zoos. The primary purpose of the Trust is aiding the conservation of big cats in the wild. Monies raised go towards securing and purchasing natural habitats in other countries to create more protected areas. You need to be a member or adopter to visit the Trust, so you do need to plan ahead. But with family membership costing just £12, it’s well worth the investment.
Cheslyn House & Gardens, Watford
Psst! We’ve got a secret for you. If you haven’t heard of Cheslyn House and Gardens, we think it’s still one of the most overlooked and underrated outdoor places in Hertfordshire. This Green Flag Award winning location tucked away in Nascot Wood is cared for by the local authority. It’s free to walk around the gardens, which have a peaceful wooded area, goldfish pond, and an aviary containing a variety of small birds. We almost hate to mention it here because it’s such a tranquil and unspoiled spot, but we couldn’t leave little oasis of calm off our list. It’s not somewhere you can stay all day, but it’s a perfect place to escape to crowds and noise of modern living.
Hitchin Lavender, Hitchin
For little ones in particular, Hitchin Lavender is a delight for the senses. Visit in early summer (June is best) and you’ll be greeted by a sea of vibrant purple, coupled with that familiar floral scent. For £5 per adult you’re given a pair of scissors and a bag so you can ‘snip your own’ sprigs of lavender to take home. A little later in the summer you can also buy the stunning sunflowers too. Kids love being able to pick their own lavender and run down the rows of bushes. Great photo opportunity! There’s also a small playground. It can get busy on weekends, so a mid-week trip can be more enjoyable.
Howard Park & Gardens, Letchworth
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Howard Park and Gardens has been given a boost in recent years through the £2.7 million project to restore the park and it’s gardens. is a vital green space in the heart of the town Specifically designed as a key part of the world’s first garden city, visitors can enjoy the updated leisure facilities, including a children’s play area, paddling pool/splash park with water shoots, refreshment kiosk, and beautiful big lawns for burning some stream. Just about everything you could ask from a 100-year-park that’s just 10 minute walk from town centre.
Mardley Heath, Welwyn
No bells, no whistles, just pretty woodland to let little imaginations run free. This large wood was used to extract gravel in the 20th century. Decades later, it has regenerated itself magnificently. You can still spot some of the old gravel workings today, alongside the wildlife-filled heathland and ponds. On Heath Road you’ll find a car park with an easy access trail not far away, as well as a wider network of paths. A great shady location for afternoon adventures!
Verulamium Park, St Albans
Verulamium Park is a large, well kept outdoor space set across 100 acres close to the centre of St Albans. While it’s beautiful in the summer, it a nice place to visit at any time of year and attracts plenty of families at the weekends. The play area has plenty of equipment, there’s a crazy gold course, and the free splash park is open from May-September. There are plenty of picturesque spots for a picnic and lovely walks all around the park, including by the River Ver and the lake which runs through it. Feeling hungry? The Inn on the Park is child friendly and has disabled facilities. It also hosts regular children’s classes and activities.