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!