Spend a fabulous family day out at Vivary Park

1 March 2022

There's something so simple, yet rewarding about heading out on an adventure to a park. As soon as you step foot onto the pathways winding their way through the grassy fields and between the trees - a moment of bliss arrives. 

When you make your way to Vivary Park in Taunton, that's exactly what you're met by. But the park has a few other highlights we couldn't help but tell you about.

So chuck the tennis rackets in the boot, pack a picnic blanket and let’s get exploring.

Take a stroll and admire the planting

Vivary Park is a winner of a Green Flag Award and makes a glorious sight all year round.

Whether that's the new bulbs in the spring, the rose garden in the summer or the evergreen trees and shrubs that offer some much-needed shade for picnics. The best way to get your bearings is to walk the full loop of the main park, crossing over via the wooden bridge into Wilton Lands.

There’s a recently redeveloped area of the park, over to the right as you come in through the main gates. It includes wildflowers as well as an alternate route into Wilton Lands along the side of Sherford Stream.

Test your dexterity in the giant hamster wheel 

Vivary Park is home to two play areas. One of these is in Wilton Lands and has recently seen the introduction of a giant hamster wheel, which makes good fun. It works as you walk or run on it to move the wheel but grown-ups beware, it’s harder than the kids make it look!

Visit the adventure centre

Within Wilton Lands you’ll also find the Vivary Golf & Adventure centre, run by Everyone Active.

The centre includes an 18-hole golf course, mini-golf and high ropes and also a cafe, so if you don’t fancy dangling metres above the ground on the end of a rope you can volunteer to sit with a coffee and ‘watch the bags’ instead.

Top tip: Don’t assume the golf club is just for members - tucked around the corner is a bar and restaurant that’s open to the public and serves a very tasty Sunday lunch. Drinks and other food are available too.

Picnic by the bandstand

If you’re more of a cheese sandwich under a tree type of person then why not head back into the main park and choose a spot for a picnic?

There are plenty of open grassy spaces to spread out your rug, but we're especially fond of the areas around the fountain and the bandstand for some extra Victorian charm.

Fun fact: The fountain was originally commissioned to celebrate the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902 but took a little longer than planned, so when it was completed in 1907 it was officially unveiled as a memorial to the late Queen Victoria!

Look out for two large oak trees near the bandstand, which were planted this time in 1902 for Edward VII.

In the past there have been regular free concerts in the bandstand on Sundays, so it might be worth checking before you go to see if you can catch some music while you’re there.

Take a turn on the swings 

Head to the back of Vivary Park for the main play area, encircled by a miniature railway track, installed in the 1970s.

The park has been expanded over the years and now contains all kinds of play equipment including a huge rope climbing frame and a giant sandpit.

There’s something here for a variety of ages, as well as benches for the grown-ups who are not required to push anyone on the swings.

Take a coffee break

One very welcome addition to Vivary Park in recent years has been the development of the Coffee Station, a cute little cafe just on the edge of the main play area selling drinks, cakes and paninis. (Back in the day there was nothing here - a real missed opportunity for desperate parents who found themselves in the park by 9am!)

Local ice cream maker Granny Gothards also has a little hut just next to the cafe, so look out for that in the warmer months. The dark chocolate ice cream is simply excellent!

Brush up on your tennis

Take a look behind the large children’s play area and you’ll spot some tennis courts. These work on a ‘turn up and play’ basis and are free of charge.

They’re ideal for families on a budget for their day out. Bring your own equipment and just help yourself to the court space.

Look out for Elvis

Hang out around the water in Vivary Park and you can see several species of water birds, including mallards, moorhens, ruddy and laysan ducks, Chinese geese and perhaps kingfishers if you’re lucky.

You might also spot the park’s resident Manky Muscovy Duck. He’s easy to recognise as he’s big and black with a rather warty-looking red beak. He’s quite friendly and is known to residents as Elvis.

Don’t forget your birdseed too - there are always plenty of ducks (and pigeons!) happy to oblige.

Useful to know

Vivary Park opens at around 7.45am every morning and closing times vary according to the time of year - aim for dusk as your cutoff. There are toilets, including a disabled toilet, at the back end of the park near the largest play area.

The main park entrance is via the big white gates at the top of the pedestrianised Upper High Street. Come in at the back by the cricket club via Mount Street or from the west through Wilton Lands.

Public car parks nearby are at Fons George, Ash Meadows and Orchard multistorey. There is some on-street parking at the back of the park alongside the cricket club, which is handy for the big play area.