One simply cannot deny the convenience and often excitement that comes with living in the city, but for the most part these cities lack some serious green space. Luckily there are a few cities around the world that can offer a moment of peace and quiet in the midst of the urban jungle, whether you want to explore historic temples, picnic in open green spaces or discover thousands of beautiful species of plants and flowers. From the most famous park in the United States to one of the biggest parks in London to one of the most unusually landscaped urban parks in the world, check out these 6 awesome urban parks and what they have to offer.
6. Central Park, New York City
It is by far the most famous urban park in America, and maybe even perhaps the world, an iconic park that has been photographed millions of times from land and by air. It boasts over 800 acres, a space that is visited by over 35 million people a year. It is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, meander down the pathways, lounge in open meadows or take a break near the peaceful lakes. Walk through the woodland area of Ramble and spend some time bird watching, or take in a regularly scheduled concert or performance during the summer months. Art installations fill the green space and one of the most notable is a 2-acre area dedicated to John Lennon.
5. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
One of San Francisco’s greatest treasures, this park is so big that one can dedicate entire days to exploring the many gardens, museums and attractions. The Conservatory of Flowers is a must visit, being the oldest building in the park and home to 1,700 species of aquatic and tropical plants, as well as an impressive Butterfly Zone and miniature garden railroad. Families with kids should head to the Koret Playground where a climbing wall shaped like waves, a rope climbing structure and many slides await, or head to the Herschel-Spillman Carousel where 62 colorful animals await riders. Or why not head to Ocean Beach for some incredible sunsets and dinner at the Beach Chalet where upstairs views are simply astounding.
4. Hyde Park, London
It is visited by millions of locals and tourists every year, one of the largest parks in London and one of the Royal Parks. Hyde Park contains a number of famous landmarks and is the largest of the four parks that form a chain from the entrance of Kensington Palace through Kensington Gardens, past the main entrance to Buckingham Palace and to the Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall. Famous landmarks here include the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, the Speakers Corner and the State of Achilles. There is also plenty of opportunity for recreation here, row or pedal boat at Serpentine River, swim at the Serpentine Lido, get competitive at the mini-golf course or even go for a horse ride with the Hyde Park Riding School. If you happen to visit during the holiday months in the winter, enjoy the Winter Wonderland spectacle which sees the park dressed up in lights and festive activities.
3. Beihai Park, Beijing
It is among the largest of all Chinese Gardens and since 1925 this park has been open to the public, containing numerous historically important structures, palaces and temples. The lake is the focal point of this impressive park, with Jade Flowery Islet laying smack in the middle of it and home to the imposing White Dagoba, the landmark of the park. Inside the Dagoba is the Buddhist Scriptures, the monk’s mantle and alms bowl and two pieces of Sarira. The Hao Pu Creek Garden is another popular area to visit in the park, an absolutely serene garden featuring a mountain-water structure that is designed to give seclusion from society. Don’t miss out on the Nine-Dragon Screen, a wall unlike any other where 424 seven-color glazed tiles feature 9 huge dragons coiling on each side. Interesting temples, a large beautiful lake and ancient alleyways make up this incredible park.
2. Parc Guell, Barcelona
It is one of the world’s most unusual urban parks, featuring buildings designed by famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. The whimsical structures throughout the park were originally designed as a part of a housing development that was unsuccessful. These structures seem to give the park more of a theme park feel, although there is plenty of green space that covers the rest of the park. Climb to the top of the hill for a panoramic view of the bay, lounge on the serpentine bench along the main square, stare the at Art Nouveau gingerbread house or simply wander through the beautiful gardens teeming with colorful flowers.
1. Monsanto Forest Park, Lisbon
In the capital city of Lisbon lies this 2,400-acre park where visitors come for incredible skyline views of Portugal’s charming old city. The park is divided into several protected and leisure areas, along with numerous picnic areas, making it the perfect meeting spot for friends and family. The Ecological Park is one of the most noted areas, stretching 50 hectares and giving visitors the opportunity to learn about the environment through exhibitions, multimedia resources and an interpretation center. Alvito Park is also located here and is perhaps the most popular among families with kids. It is here they will find swings, towers, trains and several swimming pools, perfect for cooling down during those hot summer months. The park is dotted with historical mills, abandoned quarries and beautiful scenery, covered with vegetation and enough space to make all visitors feel welcome.