August means it’s almost time to bid adieu to our off-the-shoulder sundresses and custom knit sweaters. Soon, we’ll say buh-bye to sweat-proof makeup and popsicle dates — but not just yet. You still have a few more weeks of this warm weather to spend outside, preferably with some good friends and a beautiful picnic spread.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab your buddies and a blanket. Here are 15 beautiful city parks where you should picnic at least once in your life.
1. Villa Doria Pamphili, Rome: Once upon a time (this park is so dreamy, it deserves a fairytale beginning), Villa Doria Pamphili was the country house of a noble Roman family. This 184-hectare park even includes a natural lake, Lake Belvedere, on its grounds. Now, the park hosts concerts and is one of the best sites in the city to bird watch.
2. Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne: These gardens were bestowed the title of “Royal” by none other than Queen Elizabeth II in 1958, and rightfully so — they’re home to 31 plant collections, the award-winning Australian Garden, and they’re free to enter. While you’re there, don’t miss the Melbourne Observatory, which is open for night tours.
3. Central Park, New York City: Central Park may be one of the most famous parks in the world, but it’s not in the least overrated. This park has gardens, reservoirs, paddle boats for rent, ice skating during the winter, concerts in the summer and seemingly endless open patches of grass that are perfect for picnicking. With 42 million visitors each year, Central Park is the most-visited urban park in the nation.
4. Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen: Tivoli Gardens isn’t a public park, but rather a retro amusement park in the heart of urban Copenhagen. Stepping through the gates of Tivoli feels like going back in time to 1843, when the park was founded. Although the rides have been updated, the charming look and feel of Tivoli Gardens has never caught up to the 21st century. The park has live music, an array of incredible restaurants, gardens and even a boutique hotel on its grounds.
5. Park Güell, Barcelona: This beautiful park hosts works by Antoni Gaudí, a famous architect who was greatly influenced by nature and religion. The palatial esplanade, pictured above, is called Nature Square and provides a beautiful overlook of the city. Just imagine bringing a book and sitting right on one of the benches at the edge.
6. Luxembourg Gardens, Paris: Founded in the 17th century by the Queen of France and a member of the powerful Italian Medici family, Marie de Medici, Luxembourg Gardens is famous for its neatly manicured lawns, tree-lined promenades and blooming flowerbeds. In other words, these gardens are beyond magnificent.
7. Hyde Park, London: Home of the famous winding Serpentine Lake and the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, Hyde Park offers recreational swimming, horseback riding and plenty of flora for visitors to enjoy. This gem of a park sits on 350 acres and is one of eight royal parks in London, but undoubtedly, it’s the most famous.
8. Balboa Park, San Diego: Balboa Park is the gem of San Diego. Home of multiple museums, theaters, gardens and more, this park is a place you could spend an entire day — heck, a week — touring. Visit the world-famous San Diego Zoo (PANDAS!) located here, then walk around the Natural History Museum. Conclude your visit by touring the 1935 Old Cactus Garden.
9. Keukenhof, Netherlands: This park, located just southwest of Amsterdam in the town of Lisse, has a super limited run each year from mid-March to mid-May only. Why? Because that’s when the tulips bloom. And for this park, the tulips are everything. It’s one of the largest flower gardens in the entire world, with about seven million bulbs planted annually. Daaang, that’s a lot of flowers.
10. Ueno Park, Tokyo: This is another park that is known for its flowers, but at Ueno Park, it’s all about the “sakura,” or cherry blossoms. During the springtime, when the trees are in bloom, people flood to the park for picnics and to “hanami,” which means “flower viewing,” a traditional pastime. Ueno is by far the most popular of Japan’s city parks, and so worth a trip.
11. Stanley Park, Vancouver: This massive city park stretches over 400 hectares and has a rainforest, scenic waterfront views and several landmarks like the Lost Lagoon, a freshwater marsh. Walk along the famous Seawall or go hiking on one of their many forest trails during your visit. Or, you know, ride the miniature train that runs through the park if you’re too lazy to walk.
12. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco: This massive green space features 1017 acres of sweeping hills, trails and picnic grove. For a truly special experience, sip a cup of tea inside the Japanese Tea Garden. Located inside of the park, it’s the oldest Japanese garden in the USA.
13. Ibirabuera Park, São Paulo: Ibirabuera Park opened its gates (okay, 10 gates) in August 1954. It’s a natural oasis that features 218 different species of plants, 156 types of birds and 35 kinds of butterflies, all situated within the busy city limits of Brazil’s capital state. It’s one of the largest city parks in South America. Take a leisurely bike ride around the park if you ever get the chance to go.
14. Englischer Gardens, Munich: Translated as English Gardens, Englischer has been around for 225 years. That’s a really freakin’ long time. That gorgeous structure pictured above is the famous monopteros, a circular colonnade built without walls. Lounge on the carefully mowed lawns and soak up some sunshine. Then, head over to the Chinese Tower beer gardens for a brew. Don’t forget to bring some friends — there are around 7,000 seats available there.
15. The High Line, New York City: Probably one of the cleverest uses of city space, The High Line in New York was once a train overpass. Since the track was retired, it sat unused for about three decades before it was reopened as a public space. The park is essentially a long walkway along the old tracks with gorgeous landscaping and plenty of seating running along both sides. There’s nothing better than grabbing an ice cream or a coffee and catching up with friends as you walk The High Line.
Do you have any favorite parks that aren’t on the list? Share it with us in the comments below!
(Photos via Wikimedia Commons + Dan Kitwood/Getty