Large and small, natural and man-made, these green havens are popular spots for relaxing family outings. Here’s a guide to some of the best city parks in the world.
Text: PAULINA CABANILLAS F. @sicabanillas
The playground area of Gothenburg’s largest park is truly fantastic. At the center, kids can climb into a giant wooden whale and explore its cavernous interior. There are water features, a train, trampolines, swings, picnic areas and a variety of services to make parents feel comfortable: toy lending, microwaves for heating food and an outdoor gym for getting some exercise while the kids pretend to be Pinocchio. This one-of-a-kind children’s plaza was designed by Monstrum, a Danish company directed by Ole B. Nielsen and Christian Jensen, whose award-winning work prizes safety and aesthetic innovation.
Linnéplatsen 1, Slottsskogen Park, Gothenburg, Sweden
PHOTOS: Diego González
Parque de los Pies Descalzos
Located in the city’s administrative zone, “Barefoot Park” was designed in accordance with Zen philosophy. Visitors must take off their shoes in order to better connect with nature. The park is divided into several areas that follow the theme of the elements. “Air” is represented by the Bosque de Guaduas, an elliptical garden. Nearby, you’ll find “Earth,” which contains a Japanese garden, a maze to be explored with your eyes closed, guiding yourself by touch, and trunks that you should climb to dispel any bad energy that you’ve accumulated. A third section, dedicated to “Water,” features an Espejo de Agua that gives visitors a foot massage as they walk through the pool, the Pozo de Sonidos (a fountain that creates sounds that eliminate stress) and the Chorritos, where streams of water give passers-by a refreshing soak.
Carrera 52, 42-125, Medellín, Colombia
Parc de Belleville
This park is one of the highest spots in Paris, with a terrace that affords a unique, panoramic view of the French capital. There are fountains and paths, but you won’t find slides, seesaws or run-of-the-mill equipment in this park’s playground. Recommended for children ages six and up, the 11,000 square feet of this play area has no flat surfaces, encouraging the young visitors to experiment with ramps, slopes, nets and stairs. As they explore, the children learn to play with the perspectives of the landscapes that surround them. The architectural firm BASE took requests and recommendations from the neighbors into consideration when they designed the park.
Rue des Couronnes 47, Paris, France
Parque La Carolina
Located in the city’s financial district, this park is one of the largest in Ecuador. Within its 158 acres, there are a number of zones divided by interest, including a sports area, where visitors will find everything from soccer fields to basketball courts. There’s also a section for aerobics, plus a marathon track, a cycle path and a skating area open to skateboarders, rollerbladers and BMX riders. The children’s playground offers slides, swings, nets, carousels and tracks made from recycled tires. The Ecuadorian Air Force even donated a Douglas DC-6 aircraft built in the United States for World War II, which now forms part of the landscape.
Av. de los Shyris 35, Quito, Ecuador
PHOTO: Sebastián Crespo
Parque de la Reserva
One of the most visited destinations in the Peruvian capital, this park in the neighborhood of Santa Beatriz is one of the largest recreational areas in the city. Originally designed in 1926, all the monuments were restored in 2006 and an extensive circuit of 13 decorative and interactive fountains was built: the Circuito Mágico de Agua. This unique water feature is the largest of its kind in a public park. The main fountain spouts to a height of 260 feet, while the other twelve mix music, images and laser lights to create combinations that fascinate young and old alike.
Madre de Dios, no address number, Lima, Perú
Gulliver, the protagonist of Jonathan Swift’s 18th-century tale, is the focal point of this children’s park. Lying on the ground immobilized by the Lilliputians, the character offers a series of amusing features for kids to explore. Architect Rafael Rivera and artist Manolo Martín oversaw the construction of this giant figure for the city of Valencia in 1990. Children can play on the ramps, climb ropes, walk through tunnels and shoot down slides on Gulliver’s jacket, tie and hair. An inventive story brought to life.
Tramo XII del cauce del río Turia, Valencia, Spain
PHOTO: ©Masaki Koizumi
Takino Suzuran Hillside National Park
An hour from downtown Sapporo, the largest city in northern Japan, this park offers an endless array of activities: skiing in the winter, cookouts in the summer, year-round trekking, quiet strolls in a gorgeous botanical garden, reading by one of the many waterfalls and more. The Children’s Valley is a playground like something out of a dream, a large area inspired by the nests of insects and birds, with a huge tower at the center. Inside, kids can explore structures resembling hives, run through ant tunnels, climb into butterfly cocoons and jump over “eggs” that are scattered around. The best part is in a subterranean concrete dome, which houses the Rainbow Net, a large multicolor net crocheted by textile artist Toshiko MacAdam. The youngsters can hang from the web, jump around or simply lie down and relax. A true marvel (open for the winter season from December 22 to March 31).
Takino 247, Minami-ku, Sapporo, Japan