When you have a family, one of your simplest forms of entertainment is definitely parks. We look at the cities around the world that offer the best parks, and give you tips on where and when to go.
When you’re in Barcelona and you’re looking for a family friendly park, it’s best to avoid the city centre. Here you will find lots of medieval architecture but very few open spaces, let alone parks! Head towards the city’s hills and you’ll have a much better selection. Try Parc Laberint for mazes and labyrinths, peopled with statues of mythical creatures. You can also head to Parc du Ciutadella, the city’s biggest park, which features, among other attractions, a zoo and two museums. There are plenty of others to choose from, all of which offer something unique and interesting. Barcelona’s parks are accessible throughout the year thanks to the weather but the summer is the best time to visit as it’s when the city has festivals, shows and concerts.
Chicago, Illinois (USA)
The city of Chicago boasts more than 7,500 acres of parks. In fact, eight percent of the city is made up of parks so there’s a lot to choose from. From beach front areas to green spaces, there’s something for everyone. Grant Park is one of the best. It’s spread over 300 acres and includes one of Lake Michigan’s beaches. You can also visit Lincoln Park which has a zoo, a paddle boat lagoon and a bird sanctuary. Summer is the best time to enjoy festivals and other events in the park and in winter you can join the locals with sleds and skates as the parks fill with snow.
England’s capital has 5000 acres of parks in the centre of the city. The eight parks that make up the Royal Parks are the most impressive and these include Hyde Park, St James Park and Kensington Gardens. Kensington Gardens is located alongside Buckingham Palace and offers great views of the royal residence while Hyde Park, London’s largest park at over 350 acres, offers boating on a lake, the Princess Diana Memorial and riding. London’s parks are busy all year round, with festivals in the summer. In autumn there are amazing colours and in spring there are flowers in full bloom.
The Melbourne CBD is covered in parks. In fact, it’s the city with the most parks in the central business district in the world. The eight parks that are in the central city area take up over 300 acres and offer everything from walking and jogging to restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy a laid back lunch. Fitzroy Gardens feature greenhouses, the Royal Botanical Gardens offer over 12,000 species of plants and the parks along the Yarra River offer black swan sightings. Spring and summer are ideal times to visit the parks of Melbourne and it’s when most of the events take place.
Munich may be more famous for beer, historic architecture and winding cobbled streets, but it also has plenty of parks that locals and visitors alike enjoy spending time in. The English Garden, built in the 18th century, was the first public garden in Europe and still attracts plenty of visitors, who spend time in beer gardens, feed the ducks on the lake or drink tea in the Chinese pagoda. The Botanischer Garten (Botanical Gardens) offers more than 15,000 types of plant life, spread over 54 acres, and is another of the city’s popular green spaces. Because of the weather, the parks in Munich are best visited in spring and summer.
New York (USA)
It’s hard to imagine New York without thinking of the massive expanse of park land that makes up the world famous Central Park. However, in spite of being one of the world’s most densely populated cities, New York has plenty of other parks too. No visit to the city would be complete without exploring Central Park. In this massive 850 acre park you will find a zoo, botanical gardens, ice skating rinks and lakes. It’s also well known as a concert venue. Brooklyn offers Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and Prospect Park while the Bronx offers Pelham Bay Park. New York’s parks are a major attraction all year round, with concerts in the summer, magnificent foliage in autumn, ice skating in winter, and a riot of colourful blooms in spring.
Paris is dotted with plenty of small, green areas, but some of the most famous are Luxembourg Gardens that surround Luxembourg Palace, Le Bois De Boulogne, which is Paris’s answer to London’s Hyde Park. There is also Jardin des Tuileries which is located on the banks of the world famous Seine River. The best time of year to visit Paris’s parks is in the spring time.
Philadelphia in Pennsylvania boasts over 9,000 acres of park land which combined, make up approximately 10% of the city’s area. Collectively known as Fairmount Park, they are actually 64 individual parks that contain the country’s oldest zoo, plenty of historical buildings, golf courses and more. If you enjoy the outdoors, then Wissahickon Valley Park is the place to go as it boasts hiking and cycling trails through rugged terrain, as well as trout fishing. Spring, summer and early autumn are the best time to visit Philadelphia’s parks, mainly because of the weather.
San Francisco (USA)
San Francisco is probably most famous for the Golden Gate Park that covers more than 1,000 acres, and is popular with locals and visitors alike. In the park, visitors will find a Japanese tea garden, museums, botanical gardens and the Conservancy of Flowers. Other parks in the city include the Presidio, which overlooks the world famous Golden Gate Bridge, and contains over 1,000 acres of forests, meadows and gardens. Thanks to the city’s mild weather, the parks are a favourite all year round.
Tokyo may be more famous for bright lights and nightclubs, but the city boasts some impressive parks too. Hama-rikyu Gardens in the city’s Shiodome area is one of the more traditional parks and it includes a tidal pond constructed in the Edo period style. For those who prefer a more modern, western style park, Hibiya Park is a good choice. Here you will find well laid out gardens with winding paths, fountains and sculptures and an open air concert area. If you plan a visit to Tokyo’s parks, choose either spring time for the famous cherry blossoms, or autumn, when the leaves are changing colour.