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St. James Park
St. James Park is adjacent to Buckingham Palace in central London. The 23-hectare park was originally a marshland but was drained and landscaped under the orders of James I in 1603. The park is the oldest Royal Park in London and is centrally located to many of the city's major attractions, providing a tranquil oasis to relax and unwind in during your tour of the city, all day, from 5 am until midnight. Take a stroll on one of the paths through the landscaped gardens, get a bite to eat with green scenery, or do a little bird watching - all with the backdrop of Buckingham Palace off in the distance.
Things to Do
The biggest feature of St. James Park is the lake, which spans the length of the park. Duck Island, a small peninsula that protrudes out over the water, is home to a quaint English cottage and several species of duck and other bird life, including swans, geese, gulls, a few rare bird species, and pelicans that are fed every day at 2:30.
The park has tree-lined pathways alongside beautifully maintained landscaping, brilliant flowers, and comfortable benches to sit and enjoy the water and scenery. A children's play area offers little ones to run off some energy. Public toilets and kiosks are located throughout the park.
During the summer months, you'll find free live music entertainment at the park's bandstand during the afternoons and evenings. If you forget to bring a blanket to lie across the grass, there are deck chairs available for a small rental fee through the warm seasons.
The park and the immediate surrounding area also offer memorial for reflection on those who have sacrificed for the nation. You can see the Guards Memorial and the Artillery Memorial within the park, and the National Police Memorial, the Royal Naval Division Memorial, and the Bali Memorial directly across Horse Guards Road.
Eating at the Park
The Inn the Park restaurant at St. James Park provides an elegant atmosphere and lush scenery. Enjoy a full British breakfast, pancakes with blueberry jam, or a light pink grapefruit for breakfast, or a luxury afternoon tea with smoked salmon, potted crab, and soda bread in the afternoon. Dinner is served at the restaurant during the summer months. In addition to full meals, the restaurant serves light snacks such as ice cream and sandwiches and offers a place to sit and read magazines and newspapers.
Inn the Park offers picnic hampers so that you can enjoy a meal anywhere you'd like in the park. Visitors are welcome to bring lunch to the park - including alcohol. Several kiosks offer drinks and other small necessities for sale.
St. James Park is easy to travel to given its location near many of the city's major attractions. The park has its own tube stop, though its also quite close to the Charing Cross stop, which can also be reached by rail. The area surrounding the park is peppered with bus stops. St. James Park does not have parking facilities, so it is advisable not to plan a driving trip into the area.
It would probably be easier to ask, what isn't near St. James Park in London than asking what is nearby. The park is simply in the midst of London's major tourist sites. The park butts to the north to The Mall, the red road that leads to Buckingham Palace, which is situated on the park's west end. The park borders Horse Guards Road to the east, where the Ministry of Defence, Horse Guards, the Household Calvary Museum, and the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms are housed. Along Birdcage Walk on the park's south border, you'll find the Guards Museum and Wellington Barracks. Go outside the perimeter of St. James Park just a few hundred metres, and you'll find Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, St. James Palace, Spencer House, the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, Jewel Tower, the Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace Gardens, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, and Her Majesty's Theatre. Within the surrounding kilometre, you'll bump into Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, The London Palladium, and the London Eye across the River Thames.