People are drawn to big cities for their never-ending assortment of things to do. There's always a new restaurant to check out, neighborhood to explore, or show to see. But sometimes, it's nice to simply kick back and relax in the heart of a city while being surrounded by nature. For all those times, we’ve highlighted eight amazing urban parks around the world where visitors can find refuge from the hustle and bustle.
1. Phoenix Park, Dublin
Tear yourself away from yet another Irish pub and head to Dublin's Phoenix Park, which also happens to be one of the largest walled parks in Europe. Stretching across 1,750 acres, the expansive urban space is a short car ride from the city center. Explore the Magazine Fort, which was built in 1734, jog through the People’s Flower Gardens, or gather friends to compete in a hurling, soccer, or cricket match on any of the public areas. It's also home to the Dublin Zoo, the third-oldest zoo in the world, as well as hundreds of wild deer that roam the grounds.
2. Central Park, New York City
Whether you live in a brownstone in the West Village or a third-floor walk-up on the Lower East Side, Central Park is the ideal backyard for every New Yorker. The most-visited urban park in the U.S., this popular oasis offers 843 acres of green space that’s otherwise hard to find in the busy, concrete jungle. Both locals and tourists will enjoy picnicking in the park, renting a row boat to glide across the lake, or running along one of its many paths. During the summer, two swimming pools open to the public. Families can be seen taking advantage of the many playgrounds or learning about wildlife at the Central Park Zoo. For those who are more interested in the arts, the Public Theater presents free open-air productions. Plus, the park's SummerStage event delights with music, dance, and spoken-word performances. And even if you aren't one of the people who come to visit Central Park, it’s quite likely that you’ll recognize its landscape from one of the many movies that have been filmed here.
3. Bosques de Palermo, Buenos Aires
Walk or drive through Bosques de Palermo, a 989-acre urban oasis complete with many lakes, picturesque gazebos, and beautiful flower gardens. Located in the midst of bustling Buenos Aires, the park comes alive with all kinds of visitors and monuments that showcase Argentina's history. There are a variety of activities to explore, such as learning about the stars at the Planetario Galileo Galilei, catching a polo match at the Campo Argentino de Polo, betting on horses at the racetrack, or visiting the zoo. Rent rollerblades, head to the water with a paddleboat, or sit among more than 18,000 rose bushes in the stunning El Rosedal de Palermo.
4. English Garden, Munich
One of the largest urban parks in Europe, English Garden in Munich is comprised of 910 acres of green lawns and shaded paths. Rent a bicycle and cruise along the trails, sunbathe (nude!) in Schönfeld meadow, or toss a frisbee around with friends. Admire the manmade lakes, which can be found throughout the garden, as well as rivers that rush through. An artificial wave has even been added to the scene, thanks to the clever use of a water-pumping mechanism. In the warmer months, surfers can be seen lining up along the riverbank to catch a wave while others lazily float down the water on rafts. If staying dry and drinking German beer is more your style, opt for dining at one of the restaurants or post up at any of the beer gardens. The largest and most popular beer garden is located near the impressive Chinese Tower and provides seats for up to 7,000 drinkers.
5. Regent's Park, London
Lesser known than Hyde Park but arguably more picturesque, Regent’s Park is one of the Royal Parks of London. The 395 acres of manicured lawns feature villas, terraces, the London Zoo, and plenty of places of picnic. Take in the pretty views of central London, Belsize Park, and Hampstead from Primrose Hill, the highest point. Sit down with a good novel in Queen Mary's Gardens or break a sweat at one of the many sports facilities.
6. Stanley Park, Vancouver
Escape the sounds of the city and wander through Stanley Park's 1,000 acres to find your zen. In addition to more than 500,000 cedar, fir, and hemlock trees, the lush oasis is also home to Canada's largest aquarium. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy biking or rollerblading along the seawall, swimming at one of three beaches, or quietly enjoying Lost Lagoon, a glittering 41-acre freshwater lake. Admire the nine First Nations totem poles, which showcase Canadian culture in the center of the park. And during the summer, take advantage of the outdoor movie theater that lights up the sky.
7. Ueno Park, Tokyo
More than 1,000 cherry trees plus temples, pagodas, shrines, and museums decorate Ueno Park's 300 acres. Come spring, visitors come to enjoy Hanami, a traditional Japanese custom of viewing the cherry blossoms in bloom. In the summer, locals flock to Ueno Park to relax during the long work day. Visit giant pandas at the Tokyo Zoo, walk around Shinobazu Pond, or explore the Tokyo National Museum for a vivid history of Japanese textiles, paintings, ceramics, and calligraphy.
8. Griffith Park, Los Angeles
Located in Santa Monica, this 4,000-acre park is one of the top tourist attractions in Los Angeles. Adventurous types will enjoy hiking along the 53 miles of trails and marveling at sweeping city views from Mount Hollywood, the highest point in the park. Folks will also find the closest viewing point to the Hollywood sign here. Then, lose track of time at the 300-seat Griffith Observatory, which features an array of science-related displays, trek on Bronson Canyon, play a round of tennis or golf, or go horseback riding along the winding equestrian trails.