Sports locations and affordable activities in London
Getting outside for physical activity is an important part of life as a student. It’s very easy to get caught up in your room all day working on assignments, binging Netflix or playing video games. When you come to a new city, especially a big city like London, it can be hard to find things to do and places to have fun outside. That’s why the Navigator is here to help. With the added assistance of London Tourism, we’ve listed some locations to play soccer, have a catch or whatever sport activities you like along with some free/affordable things to do in London.
Outdoor sports locations
Starting off, where can one go to find some big patches of green to play any game you want with friends? Jeremy Hick, Sport Tourism Assistant with London Tourism shared an important location to know especially for Western students.
“I think the main kind of pipeline for students is Thames Valley Parkway. It’s a really accessible avenue for students to either walk, run, bike, rollerblade, skateboard, scooter, all those kinds of things. It spans, I think, 30km or so across the city.”
“There are a lot of recreational leagues that students can get involved in.”
Hick said that one of the locations branching off of the parkway is Springbank Park in the west end. It is the biggest park in London with tons of trails and is home to Storybook Gardens, which we will get to later. Further north, there’s Gibbons Park, which has a lot of green space, great to bring the dog, toss a frisbee or play unorganized sports. Gibbons also has tennis courts and an outdoor heated swimming pool. Even further north, there’s North London Athletic Fields which has a cricket pitch, a couple of baseball diamonds, soccer fields, beach volleyball courts and more green space for other activities like Spikeball or a game of catch. Hick also mentioned a couple areas where basketball courts can be found just off the path. All these places are free, although a few require booking through the city.
Around Fanshawe, there’s Stronach Arena and City Wide Sports Park. Both these locations have more than enough green space as well as soccer fields and baseball diamonds. Fanshawe’s grounds also have multiple fields and green space as well. Keep in mind these can be in use for organized sports from time to time.
Fun affordable activities
Now for fun sport-related activities to take part in. Hick has definitely learned a thing or two from working with London Tourism. The aforementioned Storybook Gardens was the first example he gave.
“I think it’s like three or four dollars to get in there. But there’s also two free skating rinks that the city offers at Covent Garden Market and Victoria Park,” said Hick. “Another winter activity that often gets overlooked and I think a lot of people in the city and people who’ve lived here even forget is Circle R Ranch. They offer great groomed trails for cross country skiing. Obviously, Boler Mountain is another one. It doesn’t exactly fall into the category of cheap, but it’s a good winter activity for Londoners for sure. It’s a lot more reasonable if you own your own equipment. Tubing is cheap though.”
But what about the summer months? Hick also brought up something fun to do at Boler when the weather warms up.
“They have a really cool high ropes course. I think it takes about three or four hours to go through. It’s a lot of fun. I think it’s like 40 or 50 bucks, so not exactly on the cheap side, but it’s a great experience.”
Other fun spring and summer activities that Hick mentioned included disc golf courses that can be found at Saint Julien Park and Nicholas Wilson Park and soccer golf (golf but done by kicking soccer balls) at East Park.
Hick also said that there are a lot of recreational leagues that students can get involved in. Forest City Sports and Social Club offers adult leagues, and so do both Western and Fanshawe with their own intramural leagues.
Lastly, if this is something you’re interested in, Labatt Park is the oldest operating baseball grounds in the world and you can find it right here in London. If you’re into baseball or like to see a slice of history, tours are very cheap.