When it comes to budget family entertainment or just getting some fresh air, there’s really no better option than visiting a city park. Often nestled in the middle of noisy, bustling urban scenes, these parks can give travelers and city-dwellers a brief respite and plenty of views to take in.
We’ve rounded up some of the best parks in big cities around the world, just waiting for you to take a stroll, have a picnic, or spend a day enjoying the natural habitat.
Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia
Just outside of beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, you’ll find a 1,000 acre park established over 130 years ago. It’s almost completely surrounded by water, lying on a peninsula overlooking Vancouver Harbour and English Bay. Stanley Park is a great place to walk, bike, skate, or take in the view of the city skyline across the water. You’ll also find a few restaurants in the park and the Vancouver Aquarium.
Hibiya Park, Tokyo
Converted from palace and military training grounds to a city park in 1903, Hibiya Park is an oasis in the giant metropolis of Tokyo, Japan. In it, you’ll find gardens blooming year-round, Gothic monuments, fountains, food stands, and outdoor music events. There’s even a pond converted from the remnants of the old palace moat.
Englischer Garden, Munich
The grounds for the hulking Englischer Garden in Munich were set aside in 1789. The park still welcomes crowds from around the world to its approximately 1.4 square miles of green lawns and trails. There’s a lake with paddleboats, a Japanese tea house, and even an artificial stream for surfing. If you’re taking the entire family, be warned: in warmer months, it’s not entirely unheard of to see half-clothed sunbathers on the lawns.
Parc Guell, Barcelona
There aren’t many city parks that are also World Heritage Sites, but Parc Guell, in Barcelona, Spain received that designation due to its famed designer, architect Antoni Gaudi. Go for the incredibly views of the city and make sure to get a family photo with Barcelona spread out behind you. There are also examples of bright Gaudi architecture, mosaic work, and sculptures.
Central Park, New York City
Likely featured in more films than any park in the world, Central Park is iconic. From carriage rides in the winter snow to miniature sailboats on the pond, scenes here are immediately recognizable. Established in 1857, the park encompasses 778 acres of land owned by New York City. There are fountains, sprawling lawns, trails, and plenty of spots for the family to find respite on their urban vacation.
Royal National City Park, Stockholm
A relative newcomer, the Royal National City Park in Stockholm, Sweden was established in 1995. It’s the most popular city park in Sweden, with an estimated 15 million visitors each year. Within the sprawling park, you’ll find 75% of the animal species native to Sweden. There are hundreds of historic and unique buildings, including four royal palaces. There’s also several gardens and sports arenas.
Chapultepec Park, Mexico City
In one of the biggest cities in the Western hemisphere, you’ll find one of the oldest parks. Chapultepec Park in Mexico City features pre-Columbian ruins and landmarks, as the grounds were once home to the Aztecs. There are nine museums on park grounds, including the city’s famed Museum of Anthropology. There are also paths, amusement parks, lakes and fountains.
Forest Park, Portland, Oregon
It’s the largest wooded, urban park in the United States, set on more than 5,000 acres. It has 70 miles of trails, making it a refuge from the surrounding city despite only being 10 minutes from downtown. Spend your lunch break or vacation day hiking, biking or horseback riding. If your family is into local wildlife, Forest Park is host to an estimated 112 bird and 62 mammal species, including black-tailed deer, bobcats, and flying squirrels.
Hyde Park, London
Initially reserved as Henry VIII’s hunting grounds, Hyde Park is the largest Royal Park in London. The park is home to statues and sculptures, architectural features, and frequent demonstrations and concerts. There are trails, gardens and greenhouses. Because of the proximity to royal grounds, you may catch sight of guards in full uniform headed to their post at Buckingham Palace.
Written by Anna Schaefer