Dispatches from England Travelogue: A Visit to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Anglotopia

One of the last legacies of the 2012 Summer Olympics held in London was the redevelopment of portions of East London. The hub of the Olympic games is now being redeveloped as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. While the majority of the park will open to the public later this spring, portions are already open, and it’s truly an impressive place to visit and enjoy.

A highlight, especially if you have kids, is the Tumbling Bay Playground. This is a magnificent and imaginative play area, which incorporates a strong connection to nature through its tree houses and wooden structures. Children can get involved in water and sand play, swing from trees, climb ropes, and so much more. Plus, it’s surrounded by gorgeous, green open spaces. Hard to find in a bustling city like London.

Even if you don’t have kids, it’s worth checking out just to appreciate the creativity that went into designing the space. You’ll also find the Timber Lodge adjacent to the playground, which is currently one of the park’s only open cafes. The food and beverages are all organic and the building itself is beautiful and sunny (on a nice day, of course!).

Another building that is now open is the Copper Box Arena, which hosted some of the fencing and handball competitions during the Games. It’s now the home to the London Lions, a basketball team, and will host many concerts and events in the coming months and years. It also has a gym and courts can be reserved for play.

The Park is accessible via the Stratford station, both the Tube and Light Rail. You can find all the info you’ll need to get to the Park here. This station is adjacent to the Westfield shopping centre, which is a nice indoor/outdoor mall.

Much more will open to the public beginning in April. A complete timeline is available here. I hope to visit again and take my family swimming at the aquatics center, where we can relive the glory of Missy Franklin and Michael Phelps. Or maybe we’ll visit the Velodrome. I’d also love to climb to the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit, that funky looking tower you might remember (pictured above). It’s actually the tallest sculpture in the UK and promises great views of London. Then again, it’ll be hard to tear my kids away from that playground!

If you’d like to see more, I shared several more photos of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park here.

Photo credit: Nicole Wiltrout, arrowssentforth.com

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  1. avatarSue says

    The tallest pubic art structure, probably (not building!) This looks really good, and the info on the timeline hopefully means that finally we have an olympic park that is successfully re-used.

  2. avatarDonald S says

    Hi – I am not sure where you get your statistics from:
    The Arcelor Orbit is definitely not the tallest building in the UK. It isn’t even the tallest building in London.
    It is only 376 feet tall. By contrast, the Shard is 1004 feet high. Salisbury Cathedral Spire is 404 feet high. There are many others…
    I also dispute your comment that it is hard to find green spaces in London. The various parks (Hyde Park, Green Park, Kensngton Gardens, St James Park, Battersea PArk, etc.) are all very easy to find. There are numerous much smaller ones too. Additionally, London has numerous Garden Squares, as well as a myriad of other public green spaces…
    I thought that this was supposed to be an accurate website? Doesn’t seem like you do much fact checking….

  3. avatar says

    My apologies for that error. It is actually the tallest sculpture in the UK (info gathered from this site: http://queenelizabetholympicpark.co.uk/park-guide/information/park-highlights). I will try to get that corrected.
    As for the green spaces, I’ve been to all those parks you mention. They’re fabulous, and London offers a lot of great spaces like that. I was referring more to the fact that big open play areas are much less common in big cities like London than they are in more rural areas. It was certainly not intended as a slight against the city, with I think does a great job of offering parks to visitors and residents.

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