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Central Park / photo by Mark Heard

City parks offer a great escape from cars and the pavement. The cities in our list each provide a green oasis in an urban setting. Take a look at some of the biggest and most diverse park systems in the world.
New York City – Central Park

The credit for Central Park belongs to many individuals. Evening Post editor William Cullen Bryant called for its creation in 1844. Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux provided the plan – winning a public design competition.

The project took 20 years to complete. Live concerts, boating, running, cycling, museums, restaurants – Central Park has so many things to do that you will find it hard to make time for the rest of the city. Check out the Central Park Conservancy for free walking tours.

Dublin – Phoenix Park

When in Dublin, tear yourself away from the Guinness factory to visit Phoenix Park and its gardens, monuments, and wildlife. This enclosed urban park (the largest in Europe) is a former royal hunting ground with a large herd of wild deer.

It was enclosed to keep the wildlife on the hunting grounds. It has been open to the public since 1745.

Chapultepec Park / photo by Leonardo, easthastings

Mexico City – Chapultepec Park

Located in the same spot as a former summer residence for Aztec rulers, Chapultepec Park is a popular spot, with 1800 acres, several lakes, forested land, museums, and the residence of the President of Mexico. This park also includes Chapultepec Castle, which serves as the National History Museum.

South Mountain Park / photo by John-Morgan

Phoenix, Arizona – South Mountain Park

With 16,283 acres, this is the largest city park in the United States. The land making up South Mountain Park was purchased and developed throughout the 20′s and 30′s.

South Mountain Park is part of the Sonoran desert, with 58 miles of trails available to hikers and bikers. Look for petroglyphs throughout the park. A trail guide is available online.

Santiago, Chile – Metropolitan Park

In downtown Santiago there is a 1,785 acre park with tiered gardens, swimming pools, a zoo, a 45 feet tall statue of the the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, and panoramic views of the city. Metropolitan Park is also called San Cristobal Hill – named by conquistadors for St. Christopher.

Bitsevsky Park / photo by kygp

Moscow – Bitsevsky Park

This park offers a huge open area to get away from the city. It is the place in Moscow to go cycling in the summer and skiing in the winter. Don’t be put off by stories of a serial killer who used the park for his amusement from 2001 to 2006.

Philadelphia – Fairmount Park

Claiming to be within walking distance of every Philadelphia resident, Fairmount Park is a park system with 63 different sections. The largest chunk is along the Schuylkill River, offering fishing and paddling opportunities in addition to the usual park activities.

Stanley Park / photo by SqueakyMarmot

Vancouver – Stanley Park

Linked to downtown Vancouver by a series of biking and pedestrian routes, Stanley Park is easily accessible. It contains the Vancouver Aquarium, formal gardens, forest, beaches, and numerous sculptures and monuments scattered over 1000 acres. Start by renting a bicycle near the entrance and riding along the 10 km perimeter seawall. The seawall is a stone wall built to prevent erosion along the shore. Now it is the park’s most used facility.

Denver

With over 200 parks within the city, Denver has the largest park system within the United States. And with 300 days of sunshine each year, there is no bad time to visit. Start with Washington Park, City Park, and Cheesman Park.

Kings Park / photo by g-hat

Perth, Australia – Kings Park

Kings Park is my best memory from my visit to Perth. Many others probably feel the same, since it is the most popular visitor destination in Western Australia. Go walk among the treetops on the Lotterywest Federation Walkway, then just wander towards whatever catches your eye.

In the comments below, share the best city parks you’ve visited!

About The Author

Theodore Scott

Theodore Scott is an engineer who lives in Boise, Idaho. He recently quit his job to travel around South America with his fiancee. Theodore tried, unsuccessfully, to marry her in every country they visited. His website is at www.theodorescott.com.

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  • jeanie

    You forgot about Forest Park in Portland, Oregon! It is smack in the middle of Portland metro and 250,000 acres!

  • Irishpolyglot

    Great list!! I had an excellent siesta in Chapultepec Park between flights in Mexico :) I'd also recommend Englischer Garten in Munich

  • Huh

    What about Edmonton: "Edmonton's river valley constitutes the longest stretch of connected urban parkland in North America" (Wikipedia)

  • Julie

    Chapultepec Park is incredible! I live in Mexico City for part of the year, and I'd contend that in addition to its attractiveness as a green oasis, it's a wonderful place to see locals and experience a slice of their lives. Ted- really appreciate the international focus in this article.

  • JULIANE

    I lived in Arizona for a year and I can't believe I missed South Mountain Park! Thanks for the info, this is definitely a note-to-self I'm keeping with me.

  • ianmack

    Loving the Vancouver mention. Take a walk in Stanley Park and it's like wandering into a Lord of the Rings movie…

  • Chaz

    How could you leave Griffith Park in Los Angeles off this list? It's 5 times the size of Central Park in NYC and a lot more diverse. From the park's website: "With over 4,210 acres of both natural chapparal-covered terrain and landscaped parkland and picnic areas, Griffith Park is the largest municipal park with urban wilderness area in the United States. Situated in the eastern Santa Monica Mountain range, the Park’s elevations range from 384 to 1,625 feet above see level. With an arid climate, the Park’s plant communities vary from coastal sage scrub, oak and walnut woodlands to riparian vegetation with trees in the Park’s deep canyons. The California native plants represented in Griffith Park include the California species of oak, walnut, lilac, mountain mahagony, sages, toyon, and sumac. Present, in small quantities, are the threatened species of manzanita and berberis."

  • Weston Noyes

    The Parque Lezama in Buenos Aires, Argentina is a beautiful and impressive municiple park. I particularly remember the zen garden with bridges, Banzai's, and it's giant pond full of massive swarms of frenzied Koy…

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  • aya

    Wonderful list! Visiting the local parks is one of my favorite things to do when I find myself in a new city. I'm headed to Mexico City soon and can't wait to check out Chapultepec Park.

  • Horatio

    I think it is more like 5,000 acres. Close, though.

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  • Paul Nichols

    Santiago's San Cristobal Hill Metropolitan Park, with 1785 acre park with tiered gardens is ranked among the top-five biggest urban parks in the world (in downtown). it’s a total scenic outdoors city, few frantic globalised metropolises have beaches and ski resorts by an hour driving distance. It’s also one of the safest capitals in The Americas, because I can still walk for fun by midnight, safely. Locally, It has a pleasant Mediterranean climate that brings great wine fields around and plenty of sun during 7 months a year (spring/summer/fall), with no need to spend on A/C for a family there. A MUST GO!

  • Sam Carsson

    Link for Santiago de Chile's Metropolitan Park in the world's southernmost country capital. http://www.parquemet.cl

  • Elliot

    Nice list with some wonderful photos. No London parks on the list though, there are many beautiful parks here, people often use Hyde Park as the one to choose, but:

    Richmond park: also a royal park, is the largest park in London, much larger than central park or hyde park (at 955 hectares – 2360 acres), with a notable deer population its a great place to run/walk/cycle or generally relax, especially in the summer.

  • Simon

    Edmonton? Meh, the North Saskatchewan River valley parks system is mostly water. How about going south to some of the singularly big municipal parks, some of the biggest in the world… Calgary, Canada’s Fish Creek Park (13.5 square kilometers, ‘over three times the size of Vancouver’s Stanley Park’ ~ Wikipedia) and Nose Hill Park (12 square kilometers, all land with no large bodies of water).

  • salah

    helloo! what about Lazienki Park in Warsaw?

  • AR

    I can’t believe you would overlook Forest Park in Portland and put Central Park on this list. It’s 5,000 acres. The title of your article is “Ten Cities With The Biggest Parks In The World”, and therefore, is incorrect. The rest of the article loses validation.

    • http://matadortravel.com/travel-community/vagabonderz Carlo Alcos

      Woh, harsh!

      Is Forest Park in the city of Portland? Or is it just nearby? I think these parks are right in the cities. (I could be wrong through.)

  • Jill Theaom

    Houston has more urban parks and green space than any other U.S. city, though wikipedia is not the most credible source. My fave is Buffalo Bayou park where I live, though it’s surprisingly not anywhere near as big as the other parks in the city.

  • Doris Moretti

    Put Bidwell Park in Chico, California on the list. Having 3,670 acres, it is the third or fourth largest municipal park in the USA. Central Park in New York City has only 800 plus acres. Is Forest Park in Portland, Oregon a municipal park?

  • http://yahoo jose

    rocky mountain national park is bigger than central park

  • Helen Scuba

    What about hyde park????

    • http://matadortrips.com/ Hal Amen

      What about it?

  • Gregory Vincent

    Richmond Park in London is an enclosed urban park of 955 hectares – around 2400 acres. It is worth mentioning that Wimbledon Common is virtually contiguous with it (you only have to cross a single road to get from the one area to the other) and has 1140 acres. That makes around three and a half thousand acres available to the urban lover of green spaces. The only compromise is that there is the occasional ‘road’ (and carpark) for motorcars. The speed limit thereon is 20 mph.

    • john

      Or even Sutton Park, Birmingham – which is bigger than Richmond Park (And over 3 times the size of Central Park, N.Y). Perhaps I misunderstood the title of the article – I thought it would list the 10 cities with the largest parks in the world…not sure what the article actually lists (10 favourite parks of the author? Who knows).

  • Mike

    Smack dab in the middle of the city of St. Louis is Forest Park. It is 1293 acres and 50% larger than Central Park in New York. It is home to the zoo, 36 holes of golf, the municipal opera, the Dwight Davis tennis center, and several museums. How did this not make it on the list?

  • Mark

    Forest Park in Portand is NOT 250,000 acres. All of Multomah County is 466 square miles, which works out to ~298,000 acres.

    It’s a great park, worthy of a mention, but it’s 5157 acres.

    • http://matadortrips.com/ Hal Amen

      Thanks for that clarification, Mark.

  • Denise Bratton

    Thank you! I was thinking I would have to write something like this, but you took care of it.

  • http://www.jesusismybuddy.com Paul Hanley

    Not to belabor the point because San Francisco ranks second as America’s craziest city…you failed to mention (I’m sure it was just a lapse) Golden Gate Park, smack dab in the middle of the City. A wee bit larger than Central Park in New York…

  • daniel

    San Francisco has a very vast amount of green space and parkland for a city, particularly given that it is a relatively small yet very densely populated city (the city itself, excluding the Bay Area conurbation). The legendary Golden Gate Park, as has been mentioned prior, and the Presidio, are the two main green areas. Then there are so many other smaller parks.

  • daniel

    for more info about my last comment, take a look at this link and scroll down the postings:

    http://www.city-data.com/forum/city-vs-city/842193-ranking-cities-most-parkland.html

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  • Erja ruuhela

    the world largest “central park” is the helsinki town central park. It streches over more than 11.000 meters(6,8miles) THROUGHOUT the finnish capital an is about 3000 hectares (300.000 acres )
    Just for the record.

  • Giotinez

    Simon Bolivar park in Bogota – Colombia it is much bigger than any one else

  • Cucunuba

    Please take under consideration the Simón Bolívar Metropolitan Park in Bogotá, which has an extension of 988 acres (400 hectares), including a lake of 27 acres, public Library (360,000sq feet), open sky concerts square for up to 80,000 people, lots of specialized facilities for sports (passive and active), museum, botanical garden, etc. Please also remember that Bogotá is an 8 million inhabitants city. I don’t see why not to include this park in your list.

  • fazalullah

    The park in Moscow i think b the best of all i love it
    ]

  • Retnan

    Chicago’s Lincoln Park is bigger than Central Park and more well know those most of the parks on this list.

  • rotodome

    Central Park is nice and all, but it’s only only the 5th largest park IN NYC!
    after:
    Pelham Bay Park (Bronx) 2,765 acres
    Greenbelt (Staten Island) 1,778 acres
    Flushing Meadows (Queens) 1,255 acres
    Van Courtlandt Park (Bronx) 1,146 acres

    In total there are 1700 parks comprising 28,000 acres of parkland in NYC

    • Kristi Barber

      Newport News Park (Virginia) has over 8,000 acres!

  • http://paxnortona.notfrisco2.com Joel Sax

    Central Park doesn’t deserve to be on this list! Balboa Park in San Diego has 1200 acres, Forest Park in St. Louis has 1293, and Los Angeles’ Griffith Park has 4210 acres! New Yorkers need to get out of their city and see some of the rest of the country, not to mention the world!

    • Addman

      maybe their not “city” park park’s control and managed my a city not a gov or private organization.

  • barry james

    branch brook park in newark nj is another park that should get some mention among nice parks

  • Danish Hasan

    You have missed out Fatima Jinnah Park in Islamabad, Pakistan

    For any details about this park you can email me on my email address.

  • http://twitter.com/bicicletaverde La Bicicleta Verde

    Santiago has so many parks. Must add the newest Parque Bicentario to this list… spectacular! http://maps.google.cl/maps/place?um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=parque+bicentenario+santiago+chile&fb=1&gl=cl&hq=parque+bicentenario&hnear=0x9662c5410425af2f:0x8475d53c400f0931,Quilicura,+Santiago&cid=3292125467683459354

  • Seamusparker420

    Whoa, I am surprised to see that Rouge Park in Toronto, Ontario wasn’t included in this list!  With 12,356 acres of parkland, a major river, several streams and creeks, the greatest bio-diversity in the biggest city in Canada, a campground, a sand beach and  a lookout point with a phenomenal view, this is the largest urban park in North America!  This park is one of the coolest places I’ve ever seen in a city, especially one as large as Toronto!

    • Yahoo

      Rouge Park in Toronto, Ontario (12, 356 acres) the largest urban park in North America? Look again, Phoenix, Arizona has a municipal park of  16,283 acres. 

  • Alisangry

    I guess they forgot Edmonton with the largest urban park system in the world.

  • sometimesella

    Rock Creek Park in DC is close to 3000 acres…

  • Jeremiah3176

    Portland has almost 300 hundred parks, not to mention THE largest urban forest in the world, which is also a city park. Apparently this list should be: The 10 largest urban parks Theodore Scott has been to personally. Denver sucks ass by the way, its a big bowl of mile high smog.

  • Guest

    Rockwood Park, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
    2200 Acres.
    Apparently smaller than Central Parks’ 843 Acres.
    The author is an engineer?  I weep for my beloved profession.

  • Juanjo

    Central Park is in fact not one of the biggest parks in the world. In  fact, it is tiny compared to Dublin’s Phoenix Park which is HUGE. In fact, I have been to all of these parks, and none come near Dublin’s Phoenix Park. It took me well over 7 hours to walk around the Phoenix Park.

  • Bmxer2694

    What about Bidwell Park in Chico California? It’s fucking HUGE…minimum 6 miles in length

  • Danielle

    Central Park certainly does not deserve to be on this list. What about Parc Mont Royal in Montreal? It’s huge – it encompasses a whole mountain, and there are actual park rangers dedicated to keeping it maintained!

  • Vernon510

    Maybe you should work on your research. Philadelphia has the largest city park system in the U.S. At 9200 acres.

  • Steven Hsu

    Wow, there are several of these lists with almost no agreement. I guess it depends on your definition of “city park.” But certainly Portland’s Forrest Park belongs on the list.

    • Steven Hsu

      My 9-yo daughter says I can’t spell — “Forest Park.”

  • Nicole De Biasi

    You also forgot Point Defiance in Tacoma, Washington. Several sources say that it’s the second largest city park in the US, second only to Central Park in New York.

  • Abdon Mtchotsa

    you forgot Ville d’este in Italy. This is one of the ancient parks with five hundred water fountains and beautiful walk trails.

  • Jordan Michael Gaffney

    Cool to see my city Dublin here, it is a small city and country that rarely has the weather to be visiting parks, although the phoenix park is beautiful all year round, especially in the snow with the reindeer.

  • Kirsten Alana

    So happy to see Perth mentioned! Kings Park is terrific and I’ve often seen it left off other lists.

  • Jwd Omer

    Nic

  • Jwd Omer

    Nic

  • Amanda Cook Elliott

    And no one has mentioned Shelby Farms in Memphis, TN. It’s surrounded by the city of Memphis, so it meets the definition of urban park, and sits on 4,500 acres.

  • Leonardo Grimaldi Salcedo

    Bogota’s Simon Bolivar park is over 4ha, so it is larger than NY’s Central Park.

  • Leonardo Grimaldi Salcedo

    Bogota’s Simon Bolivar park is over 4ha, so it is larger than NY’s Central Park.

  • Terry Doak

    it doesn’t say park system. It says park. The same could be said for those listing the Smithsonian Institution as by far the largest of museums, as opposed to The Louvre, or L’Hermitage, which it is, but it is really a conglomeration of 19 separate museum sites, so not really a fair comparison.

  • Doria

    How about Rome’s VILLA DORIA PAMPHILI and PARCO DELL’APPIA ANTICA. The second one is an ENORMEOUS container of trees, hills, ancietn tombs, statures, temples, ruins, catacombs and the mythical Appian Way cutting it in the middle from the heart of the city (Circo Massimo) all the way to Ciampino (16 KM of road).

  • Peter

    chicago’s lincoln park is much bigger than central park

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