Revisiting the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park London

How about visiting the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London? I suggested to the Teens. Where? They responded. The place the Olympics were held. Yes Please!

Olympic Rings
Olympic Rings

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park London

Once the flames of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games were extinguished, work began on transforming the land around the stadium into a huge public park. The park covers 560 acres and is criss crossed by 6.5km of waterways.

Woman and two small boys outside London Olympic Stadium 2012
Cultural Wednesday family at the Olympics 2012

2012 London Olympics

The summer of 2012 was amazing in London. Just the memory makes me smile. We decided not to go away on holiday, why would you when the best show on earth is happening in your backyard. We took advantage of the fact that children paid their age for the cheapest seats and went to see Hockey, Fencing, Road Cycling, Tennis, Triathlon, Football and Athletics. Fencing was such a hit, that the then Junior CW’s took the sport up and still fence today. We were all keen to see what the Olympic Park had to offer now.

Woman and two teenagers outside London Olympic Stadium 2019
Gosh they have grown!

What to do in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

People mentioned two things when I said I was going to the park. Parents of young children responded with the information that it holds the best playground in London. Parents of teens cooed that they really wanted to do the slide. Turns out that there is lots more than that to do.

Slide down the ArcelorMittalOrbit

You don’t have to ride the slide. Just going to the top to see the view – it is pretty awesome. The ArcelorMittalOrbit is 114.5 metres high, that makes it the tallest statue in the UK. Sir Anish Kapoor is the artist behind the Orbit. I used to be an economics journalist, so bear with me whilst I divulge a few more figures: 2,000 tonnes of steel, 60% of which is recycled, make up the swirling structure. A lift will whoosh up to the top where you get some of the finest views of London (to my mind it is only equalled by those from the Sky Garden).

View of City of London in distance from ArcelorMittalOrbit
On a clear day we could see home

To get down you can either walk down the 455 steps of the recycled steel staircase, whilst listening to the Soundscape Art Installation, or you can appreciate a different art work. Carsten Höller has designed a sinuous silver steel tube that snakes around the red steel. I love a helter skelter, the ArcelorMittalOrbit Slide at 178 metres and with twelve twists and turns is the biggest tube slide in the world.

Sinuous steel tube slide descending through red steel rods at Orbit London
That is a long way down

The teens and I loved every last super slidey, swirly, plummeting second of it. You can watch Teen One’s descent here.

  • ArcelorMittalOrbit views only: Adult £11.50, Child £5.50, Family £32
  • Views and slide: Adult £16.50, Child £10.50, Family £52
  • Children must be over 8 and at least 1.3 metres tall
  • Pre-booking a recommended

Swim at the Aquatic Centre

Swimming at the Olympic pool at the Aquatic Centre is both to swim part of history and to swim in an artwork. Ellie Simmonds powered her way to gold here. Zaha Hadid designed the undulating wave-like building. You have a choice of the training pool, which is smaller and shallower, more suited to a family splash or the big Olympic pool. Can I just say that swimming 50 metres in 3 metre deep water is completely different to the 25 metres of my local pool where I can touch the bottom for part of the time. Unbeknownst to me the teens were recording my lap times, they worked out that in the time it took me to cover 50 metres, the world champion would have won the 200 metres freestyle.

Zaha Hadid designed Olympic Pool London
  • Open: Daily 6am – 10.30pm
  • Adult swim: £5.35
  • Child swim: £3
  • No need to book but do check that competition pool is not being used for a competition

Tour the Olympic Stadium

Since the London Olympics the stadium has become the home for the West Ham United Football team. You can go on a stadium tour including walking out through the players’ tunnel. We were unable to do the tour when we visited as the Stadium was being converted into a Baseball venue, but I have walked out of the players’ tunnel at St James’ Park in Newcastle and it is amazing.

ArcelorMittalOrbit with Olympic Stadium behind River Lea with blue bridge
Those trees have grown
  • Open: Sunday – Friday 10am – 3pm, Saturday 10am – 3.30pm
  • Admission: Adult £19, Child £11, Family £56
  • Book ahead for slightly cheaper tickets and guaranteed entry

Walk the 2012 Trail

Capture the Olympic spirit by following the 2012 trail. You can either download a map or pick one up at the park entrance. Follow the route to discover the Olympic bell, the huge Olympic and Paralympic symbols, places where you can try to run as fast as Mo Farah or jump as far as Greg Rutherford. On the way you will pass the Copper Box and come across some of the 26 artworks that live in the park.

Gold Silver Bronze podium with Orbit and London Olympic Stadium in background
Follow in the footsteps of 2012 heroes

Scramble over the Playground

The Teens are too old for playgrounds now, but friends who have younger children tell me that the Tumbling Bay playground in the Queen Elizabeth Park is one of the best in London.

White and purple wild flowers at Olympic Park London
I loved the wildflowers during the Olympics and am glad they are still there

Cycle the Olympic Park

Officially called the Lee Valley VeloPark you can either hire a bike or bring your own to try out the one mile floodlit road circuit or if off road is your thing there are 8km of traffic free trails. Maybe the lumps and bumps of the BMX track are more to your cycling taste, this is not for beginners! Itching to have a go on the steeply banked slopes of the Velodrome, you can book a taster session to bring out your inner Chris Hoy.

London Olympic Velodrome
Velodrome
  • Velodrome taster sessions: £45 per hour, minimum age 12, minimum height 1.4 metres.
  • BMX starter lessons £15 per hour, minimum age 7, minimum height 127 cm.
  • There are many different types of cycling sessions available, check the Lee Valley VeloPark website for details.

Take to water

There are six and half kilometres of waterway criss crossing the park. You can explore them either on a swan pedalo or on boat trip. Boat trips and pedalos can be found outside the Aquatic Centre.

Narrow boat on river Lea London
After swimming and sliding this is just the thing
  • Park Boat Tour takes 45 minutes, departs on the hour 12 noon – 4pm
  • Adult £9, Child £5, Family £22
  • Swan Pedalo available every day 12 noon – 5pm
  • Adults £9, Child £5, Family £22

Time for Tea

If you are visiting the Copper Box, Lee Valley VeloPark or the Aquatics Centre there are cafés inside the venues. In the park itself is the Last Drop right next door to the ArcelorMittalOrbit and the Time Lodge Café next to the Tumbling Bay Playground. There are also masses of food and drink opportunities on the edge of the park. Shake Shack caught the attention of the teens on the way from the tube to the park and it was there that we returned to eat.

Timber Lodge Cafe Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park London

Getting to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Stratford is public transport heaven. Stratford Station is served by the Docklands Light Railway, the Jubilee and Central tube lines, National Rail services operated by Greater Anglia and c2c and London Overground. Stratford International has high speed trains from Kent stopping there. When we came to the Paralympics with my mother she got home to Norfolk only half an hour later than we did to Surrey.

We loved returning to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. All three of us are keen to return to try out the cycling and the boat trip. Who knows, next time we might even take Mr CW.

We were guests of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, all opinions and a yen to ride a white swan down the River Lea are our own.
Take in the best views in London before descending down the world's longest tallest tunnel slide #FamilyDayOut #London #Teenagers
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30 Comments

  1. June 26, 2019 / 4:01 pm

    Aww look how much they have grown! Or have you shrunk?! 🙂 What a great idea to revisit. I remember watching it being built on various trips to London from Norwich. I wrote an article about the sustainable build and the legacy they wanted from it. It’s nice to see it playing out.

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 26, 2019 / 5:28 pm

      Really good to see that everything is being used and park free to access

  2. June 27, 2019 / 9:23 am

    Mark and I have been giggling at the soundbites on the ride. And what I want to know, it where is MUMMY’S descent for us all to see? #farawayfiles

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 27, 2019 / 9:25 am

      Wasn’t a GoPro harness large enough to fit Mummy

  3. June 27, 2019 / 2:05 pm

    That is a very long slide!! Really wish they could drop the age limit for the velodrome, my 5 year old is a better cyclist than me and would love to go in there! #farawayfiles

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 27, 2019 / 2:07 pm

      It was the height restrictions that used to foil our plans, seems so long ago now that they tower over the measuring sticks

      • June 27, 2019 / 6:38 pm

        I think we will be foiled for many years to come by height restrictions!

  4. June 27, 2019 / 2:21 pm

    That slide is quite pricey! I’d like to swim at the Aquatic centre though, such fond memories of watching the 2012 Games
    #farawayfiles

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 27, 2019 / 3:46 pm

      It is, but it sells out even so!

  5. June 27, 2019 / 6:03 pm

    This is great. I have such fond memories of 2012 too. I was a games maker at Wimbledon so saw lots of tennis + anything else I could get to when not herding tennis fans! It was on of the best summers ever! So great that the park is being utilised and used in so many different ways. We haven’t been for a while so must go back and try out that slide! #farawayfiles

  6. June 27, 2019 / 7:45 pm

    That slide looks awesome! And I would love to swim in the lovely pool. Knowing the history would make visiting here even more fun!

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 27, 2019 / 9:43 pm

      Swimming on the pool was great, has made me ponder doing a bit of swimming tourism

  7. June 27, 2019 / 9:07 pm

    So far I’ve visited two Olympic Parks, in Munich and Beijing. With stunning architecture in both places, I’ve become more inclined to visit more parks, so had to stop by to have a look at the London one 🙂 #farawayfiles

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 27, 2019 / 9:42 pm

      I visited the Munich one on the 70s and it was what really made me want to attend the games when they came to London

  8. June 27, 2019 / 9:07 pm

    That slide looks spectacular. My teens would love it. I prefer to wait them while drinking tea. #Farawayfiles

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 27, 2019 / 9:40 pm

      Waiting at the bottom was the worst bit!

  9. June 30, 2019 / 3:12 am

    Wow, fun place. The video of the slide is great. It looks fun. And scary. But fun! Eeeee…I don’t know if I could do it. Thanks for sharing!

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 30, 2019 / 3:56 am

      I’m assured that screaming makes it better

      • June 30, 2019 / 4:49 am

        LOL, I bet it does!!

  10. July 2, 2019 / 3:42 am

    Looks like they’ve really turned a historical place into something quite special! So many awesome activities to choose from, not sure where I’d start first! Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles

  11. July 3, 2019 / 10:52 pm

    This sounds like a really great place to visit with my family! I knew about the slide, and have done part of the walking trail (which I think is part of the Capital Ring Walk). I’m definitely keeping this in mind for the summer, it can be tough finding something different to do with those teenagers! #FarawayFiles

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 23, 2019 / 4:06 pm

      There is an art trail too, called The Line that goes from the Olympic Park down to the Docks and then over river in the cable car to the Dome. Keep intending to do that but never do.

  12. July 4, 2019 / 8:56 am

    I am so pleased to see that the Olympic Park has continued to be used and further developed. I’ve seen far too many pictures of other Olympic Parks around the world abandoned and left to rot. Well done London. As for that slide – yup, my boys would love it. Me? NO WAY!

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 5, 2019 / 2:34 am

      It is heart warming to see the park loved and used

  13. July 12, 2019 / 9:15 am

    Great post! I must admit I’m a bit terrified by the slide! I remember the Carston Holler’s at Tate Modern being very bumpy, has put me off! Tumbling Bay is a fantastic playground, although it’s in three sections which you have no sightline through so my little ones always head somewhere I can’t see them! The swimming pool does fun float sessions which are brilliant fun for teens too. Just realised I’ve never had a swim in the pool myself, must rectify this! #CulturedKids

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 23, 2019 / 4:03 pm

      Slide not bumpy but you you do get flung from side to side quite a lot. You must take time to have a grown up swim in the pool it is fantastic!

  14. July 15, 2019 / 8:26 pm

    The video is BRILLIANT!! I am so pleased the olympic park became a destination with so much to do for every age. I particularly fancy the water ways on a pedal #culturedkids

  15. July 19, 2019 / 7:36 pm

    That slide looks both amazing and terrifying! This has brought back some great memories, I was working in the Westfield Stratford shopping centre as it was being built and loved seeing the Olympic Park come to life. #CulturedKids

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 23, 2019 / 4:01 pm

      Wasn’t it amazing. I catch the train to Norwich quite often and loved seeing the park taking shape out of the train windows.

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