Urban parks – perfect choice for city dwellers

By Stef Zisovska
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Urban parks – perfect choice for city dwellers

Stef Zisovska
 
 
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Cities are great places for those who enjoy living among skyscrapers, even though the modern urban lifestyle often provides more gray than green in terms of color. Nevertheless, each environment has its own beauty and benefits. As humans, we are all different and we need distinct things from life. Some of us prefer the city traffic to muddy tracks, while others like to spend time in forests outside of the city. The fact is, though, we all need fresh air to breathe and a time and place for quiet that will give us a chance to meditate and focus on our inner being.

If you think that you can only do this far from your urban home, here are some urban parks that provide the perfect setting for city dwellers to relax.

Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois

The serpentine BP Pedestrian Bridge is architect Frank Gehry’s first bridge – Author: Torsodog – CC BY-SA 3.0
The serpentine BP Pedestrian Bridge is architect Frank Gehry’s first bridge – Author: Torsodog – CC BY-SA 3.0

Millennium Park is the smallest on this list, but no less worthy. Its 25 acres are a part of Grand Park that is located on the old site of the Illinois Central rail yards and parking lots once stood. An ice rink, a fountain, a bike rental center and a suspended walkway are some of the features to visit and things to do while you’re in Chicago and find yourself in need of a break. The Jay Pritzker Pavilion is the best place in the park if you want to enjoy a concert, while the Cloud Gate is the largest sculpture in the area.

Central Park, New York City, New York

Central Park, New York City
Central Park, New York City

Park lovers will tell you that urban parks don’t get any better than Central Park in New York City and they are probably right. The 843 acre park was opened in 1859, completed in 1872 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963. Since that time, Central Park gets more than 25 million visitors each year, including heads of state, religious leaders, and thousands of marathon runners.

The top features in the park that people usually visit are the Central Park Zoo, Wolman Skating Rink, and of course, Strawberry Fields, a part of Central Park dedicated to John Lennon. Besides these hyper-famous attractions, you can also see the hand-carved Bow Bridge, the Belvedere Castle, walk the 1.61-mile loop around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, and the Carousel.

Forest Park, Portland, Oregon

An unpaved path about 2 feet (0.6 meters) wide runs through a forest with a thick understory of ferns – Author: EncMstr – CC BY-SA 3.0
An unpaved path about 2 feet (0.6 meters) wide runs through a forest with a thick understory of ferns – Author: EncMstr – CC BY-SA 3.0

Forest Park is not only one of the largest urban parks in the country but one of the biggest forest reserves as well. Forest Park covers more than 5,100 acres and offers a unique experience for all Portland residents. The park is so large that after only a few steps from any trailhead you will forget that you are close to a major city. All of you who like long walks should prepare for the 30-mile long Wildwood Trail which begins near the Oregon Zoo.

The trail will take you through a magical experience of hemlock, fir and cedar trees. There are shorter trails than the Wildwood Trail for those who don’t like to walk too much. The best way to experience Forest Park is to go for a full day hike with a picnic lunch in between.

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Japanese garden in the Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Japanese garden in the Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Golden Gate Park has more than 1000 acres of open space that’s worth mentioning, but the features like California Academy of Sciences and DeYoung Museum attract the most attention with their architectural grandiosity. The Conservatory of Flowers is another wonderful structure in the park that you must see. It’s a Victorian greenhouse built from wood and glass and constructed in 1879. The North Windmill is the fourth among the Golden Gate Park structures that is an absolute must see for every visitor. You can visit the four buildings in one day, but make sure to bring a good pair of sneakers. Good luck!

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