Often overlooked in lists of London's best parks, this vast patch of woodland, lakes, and lawns on the southern bank of the Thames is the equal of any of its siblings in the center. Formerly known as Battersea Fields, the park was laid out between 1852 and 1858 on an old dueling ground. There's a lake for boating -- and for watching the abundant wildfowl -- formal gardens, one of London's largest adventure playgrounds (free), tennis courts, cricket and soccer pitches, and slightly incongruously, a Buddhist peace pagoda. Trails are available from the park office pointing you toward some of the park's 4,000-plus trees.
There's also a Children's Zoo (tel. 020/7924-5826; www.batterseaparkzoo.co.uk), home to various furry (and not-so-furry) critters, including chipmunks, coatis, capuchin monkeys, box turtles, and meerkats. Admission costs £7.50 for adults, £6.50 seniors and disabled visitors, £6 children 15 and under, and £25 for a family ticket. It's open daily in summer from 10:30am to 5:30pm and in winter from 10am to 4:30pm.