10 Best things to do at Bushy Park, London

by Jan

After the success of our sunrise trip to Richmond Park (London), I was excited to visit Bushy Park, another of London’s prestigious royal parks.  Set over 44 hectares, Bushy is London’s second largest royal park and a fantastic place to go to escape the capital.  We went on a family day out to see the famous deer and discover all the amazing things to do at Bushy Park, London.

Bushy Park is one of the best attractions near Hampton Court Palace,  Henry VIII’s magnificent Tudor castle.  In fact, it is directly opposite Hampton Court, so one of the best things to do after a visit here.  However, this nature reserve is also one of the most beautiful open spaces in Greater London and definitely worth a day out in its own right.

I have been going to Bushy Park since I was a child and absolutely love it. In this guide, we’ll share the top things to do at Bushy Park and all the information you need to plan your own day out.

Read on for our Top Ten things to do in Bushy Park, London

Visit the Diana Fountain

View of Diana Fountain, Bushy Park, Greater London, UK

One of the top landmarks at Bushy Park is the Grade-1 listed Diana Fountain.  If you come in the Hampton Court Gate entrance, this is one of the first things you’ll see.

The Diana Fountain is a magnificent bronze statue of a goddess standing on an ornate marble pedestal in the middle of a pond.  It’s a very popular spot for flocks of sea gulls, Canada Geese, and swans.

Initially, the Diana Fountain was located at Somerset House in central London, after it was commissioned by King Charles I.  However, Henry VIII later moved the statue to Hampton Court Palace .

In 1713, they moved the statue again.  This time it was across to Bushy Park, as part of Sir Christopher Wren’s design for Chestnut Avenue.  This avenue is now the main road which crosses the park between Hampton Court Gates and Teddington Gates.

Originally called The Great Avenue, this grand thoroughfare is lined with a row of horse chestnut trees.

Discover the historic ponds

Two boys looking at Heron pond, Bushy Park, London, UK

If you’re a nature lover, one of the best things to do at Bushy Park is a walk round the lakes.

From the Diana Fountain it’s just a short walk towards Heron Pond and the Leg of Mutton Pond. If you look at the map, it is clear where this pond got its peculiar name from!

These picturesque ponds are the largest of ten ponds at Bushy Park.  They are a haven for wildlife and attract lots of waterfowl, including our favourites, the Egyptian Geese.  The varied landscape at the park is also home to many endangered species of birds.

Click here for a map of Bushy Park

Go wild in the Playground

If you’re visiting with younger kids, the best attraction in Bushy Park is the playground.

I have also loved the play area and it has recently had a makeover, so is better than ever.  The playground features a timber climbing frame, a balance trail, cradle swings, climbing boulders and a basket swing.  It is a very exciting park for children up to the age of 12.

If you have toddlers, they will also love the giant sandpit.

In summer, you’ll usually find an ice-cream van outside the playground and there is also a refreshment kiosk.  Visitors to the park can also use the toilets next to the playground.

Spot the free-roaming deer

Magnificent Stag, Bushy Park, London, UK

One of our favourite things to do at Bushy Park is spot deer.  Originally the hunting ground for King Henry VIII, Bushy Park is still one of the best places in south-east England to see deer.  You can also see them at Richmond Park in London.

Over 300 red and fallow deer roam freely across Bushy Park.  In fact, they are essential for the maintenance of the grassland there.  They are easy to see and before we’d even reached the ponds, we had spotted a small group of does.

However, on the further side of the pond was a magnificent stag resting under the trees.  We stood at a distance and took time to enjoy this spectacular creature.

It is important to keep at least 50 metres from the deer.  Don’t try to touch or feed them.

Learn about the rutting season

Young Stag Deer in Autumn bracken, Bushy-Park, London, UK

Autumn is a fantastic time to visit deer at Bushy Park, as it’s the rutting season.  However, you must keep your distance as deer can be extremely dangerous, especially the stags.

The rutting season is the breeding season for the deer.  The stags (male deer) will compete amongst themselves for the right to mate with the females.  This involves sizing each other up, roaring and interlocking antlers.

The autumn foliage provides an excellent camouflage for the deer, especially the ferns.  The light russets of the dried ferns are an exact match for the fur of the deer, and it would be very easy to miss them, if you aren’t looking.

Two Stag Deer after rutting, Bushy Park, London, UK

We were lucky enough to see two deer rutting.   Well, I say rutting.  It was quite a pathetic attempt.  The stags locked antlers and there was some gentle pushing, but nothing very threatening on either side.  Plus, there were several other stags who were oblivious to the scuffle.  It was not really obvious if it was a genuine challenge or they were just going through the motions.

It was great to watch (at a distance) and even better when one stood up with fern tangled in its antlers, which was very comical.

Remember that deer are wild animals and can be unpredictable, so don’t get too close (especially during the rutting season).

Meet friends at the Pheasantry Café

If you looking for something to eat in Bushy Park, head to The Pheasantry Café. This is located in the scenic Woodland Gardens.

The Pheasantry Café is the main refreshment area and a popular place to meet friends.   It serves drinks, snacks, and a range of hot and cold meals.  They produce all the hot food and deli items using local and artisanal produce.

The café has recently been refurbished and has indoor and outdoor seating.  You can also use the toilets here.

To get to the café from the ponds, just follow the Cobbler’s Walk towards the Pheasantry Café & Visitor Centre.

Alternatively, you could also come directly here to park.  There is small car park by the café, but it gets busy at peak times.

Take a walk through The Woodland Gardens

The Woodland gardens, Bushy Park, London, UK

Bushy Park is a fantastic outdoor place and provides plenty of options for a scenic walk.  Most of the landscape is open grassland, with large, ancient trees.

However, the area by the Pheasantry Café is a more formal area, the Woodland Gardens.  Here, you’ll find enclosed, landscaped gardens, with pretty, winding waterways and bridges.

Deer don’t come into this area, so the landscape is very different to the area by the ponds.  It’s a tranquil, picturesque zone which is perfect for a stroll.

A visit to the Woodland Gardens is one of the best things to do with kids in Bushy Park.

Find the Canadian Totem Pole

Canadian Totem Pole at Bushy Park, London, UK

Bushy Park looks beautiful all year round.  If you visit in autumn, you’ll enjoy a rich mix of autumnal hues mixing with the greens.

If you follow the woodland trail through the Pheasantry Plantation, you’ll come to the Waterhouse Plantation.

Here, in the Canadian Glade, you’ll see the Canadian Totem Pole, gifted in commemoration of the Canadian soldiers in the First World War.

If you want a longer walk, you can follow the path by the Longford River, at the far end of the Waterhouse Plantation.

Charles I built this artificial canal to provide more water to Hampton Court Palace.  Nowadays, Longford River supplies all the pretty waterways, ponds, and streams at Bushy Park.

Admire the Upper Lodge Water Gardens

The Water Gardens, Bushy Park, London, UK

Exiting from the Waterhouse Plantation, we set off in search of the Upper Lodge Water Gardens.  This is another more formal area of the Bushy Park, added by the Earl of Halifax.  The highlight of these gardens is a 18th Century cascade.

The Upper Lodge Water Gardens are not open on Mondays.

Enjoy the nature and wildlife

Wildlife at Bushy Park, London, UK

As you’ll discover, Bushy Park is a brilliant location for enjoying nature and spotting wildlife.  With a range of different habitats, Bushy Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including the famous deer.

In addition to all the waterfowl who come for the many lakes, keep an eye out for kingfishers and kestrels.

You can also see Green Woodpeckers who come to feast on the ancient ant hills.  These grassy tussocks are yellow meadow anthills and over 200 years old!

In 2016, Bushy Park was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its rare invertebrate life and habitats.


Chestnut Avenue, Bushy Park, London, UK

With such plentiful nature and wildlife, Bushy Park is a fantastic place to go to escape the city, get some fresh air and enjoy time outdoors.

What’s more, it’s a great place to go for a walk or meet with friends.  Bushy Park has plenty of open space for kids to run around and let off steam, as well as a fun playground.

Bushy Park is one of the best attractions near Hampton Court Palace.  And even better is that it is one of the many free things to do in London.

How to get to Bushy Park

By car

Bushy Park is in Hampton in the Greater London borough of Richmond-upon-Thames.  You can get there from the Hampton or Teddington side.

The park has 4 car parks and parking is free.

By public transport

There are 3 train stations near Bushy Park; Teddington, Hampton Court and Hampton. Direct trains run regularly from London Waterloo and take 30-40 minutes.

You can walk from the train station in about 10 minutes.

Other things to do near Bushy Park

Beautiful yellow Tulips in front of Hampton Court Palace, Surrey, UK

Of course, the very best thing to do near Bushy Park is visit Hampton Court Palace.  If you exit from the Hampton Court Palace Gates and cross the road, you’ll enter the gardens of Henry VIII’s magnificent Tudor palace.

You can explore the palace,  get lost in the maze, or take a wander through the royal gardens.  If you go in Spring, you could visit the Hampton Court Tulip Festival.

If you like historic houses, you could visit Ham House or Strawberry Hill House.  On a sunny day, one of the best things to do near Bushy Park is a Go Boat on the River Thames or a swim at Hampton Pool.  If you like shopping, Kingston has an excellent choice of shops.

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Avatar for Jan
Megan 4th January 2021 - 3:16 pm

I live relatively close to Bushey Park but never been! During this tier 4 lockdown I should venture there on my bike! Thanks for all the tips #culturedkids

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Radka 30th December 2020 - 11:42 am

Jan, after reading your inspiring guide on Bushy park we’ll definitely be heading there very soon. Can’t believe we’ve never visited Bushy park or even considered it despite being on our doorstep! Thanks for the tip. Radka x

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Jan 30th December 2020 - 4:12 pm

I think a lot of people visit Hampton Court without realising that Bushy Park is just across the road. It’s definitely worth a trip. Jan x

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Holidays from Hels 7th December 2020 - 9:13 pm

I did not know about this park! I’ve been to the very fabulous Hampton Court but clearly failed to look across the road. I love a deer park with woodland walks and dotted with historic monuments. I will definitely be heading over (when we are allowed out of tier 3). #Culturedkids

Avatar for Jan
Jan 30th December 2020 - 4:11 pm

There’s plenty of variety, so always something new to to see.

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Vyki from Museum Mum 7th December 2020 - 8:51 pm

What a great guide! Despite having visited Hampton Court several times I’d never been to Bushy Park until I tried a walk from Richmond through it in January. We had to rush back to collect the kids so couldn’t explore, but loved the mixture of wildness and formality. And that we spotted deer immediately! I didn’t know much more about it, so will use your guide to explore more with the kids. Thanks so much for joining in with #CulturedKids

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Jan 30th December 2020 - 4:10 pm

The kids love it and have been going there since they were babies.

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Laureen Dixon 20th November 2020 - 4:15 pm

My favourite place for walks in various directions. I haven’t seen the totem pole for many years. Something to look for.


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