I’ve lived in London most of my life, and have been to Battersea Park several times. But it wasn’t until my friend suggested we take the kids to the Battersea Park Zoo that I even knew it existed. And what a great find.

It was one of those lazy weekends where we didn’t have much planned, and the sun decided to grace us with her prescence. It’s a fair drive for us now we’re not in the city anymore, but it was worth the effort. And, because we went early, it was easy to find a parking space – probably not so much when you hit lunch time and beyond.IphoneEarly2014 029

Battersea Park itself is a huge, sprawling green oasis made up of several historic gardens, ponds, a boating lake, playgrounds and the zoo, with its famous Peace Pagoda being one of the star attractions. It’s a haven for fitness fanatics and runners, bikes can be hired and there are all-weather pitches. It’s a hubbub of people enjoying this serene space beside the River Thames.

Battersea Park Children’s Zoo

Not far from the Peace Pagoda, the Battersea Park Children’s Zoo is a separate attraction with an entrance fee. It’s relatively small, but size isn’t everything, as they utilise the space well. With an easy route to follow, there are several mammals and birds that you pass along the way, including monkeys, otters, rodents and chinchillas, to farm animals. There is also a little reptile house which houses interesting cold-blooded creatures such as snakes and geckos.

During the school holidays and the weekends, there are feeding times for the farm animals, otters and meerkats, and the monkeys. Unfortunately, we had just missed the time slot for this. But it’s another great activity for kids to get involved with.IphoneEarly2014 032

Once you wind your way past the more exotic animals, you come to a natural stopping point – the cafe! Which has plenty of indoor and outdoor seating and a variety of hot and cold food. The kids enjoyed a little picnic, while us adults sipped much-needed coffee.

IphoneEarly2014 041As you move on from the cafe area, you are able to interact with a few more animals, such as chickens, pigs and donkeys. But as interesting as all these furry lovelies are… the Zoo saves the best till last…IphoneEarly2014 044

Yep, the interactive play area, with swings, ropes, climbing frames, a huge fire engine and all sorts of other fun rides. D was in boy heaven. We couldn’t get him off the fire truck and then had to prise him away from the tractor.IphoneEarly2014 045

IphoneEarly2014 040IphoneEarly2014 056We were really impressed with the facilities, and could have easily spent a lot longer here, but for the fact because it was a hot day and a Saturday, the zoo was becoming quite busy. My friend, who has been during the week, says it’s much quieter, if you wanted to avoid crowds.

And this glorious day trip was topped off with an ice cream for all! Well, it would have been rude not to…IphoneEarly2014 051Entrance fee: £8.50 per adult; £6.50 for children above 2;£28.00 for a family ticket. Ice creams not included…