Worried about staying active in the winter? We were too, until we learned that a surprising number of our favorite parks from around the world offer a wide range of activities even in colder climates. Take a look at our staff picks of year-round, public parks and see if some of your favorites made the list!
1. Prospect Park
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
On Board the Gravy Train
In a city where tall buildings and grey streets can often be overwhelming, Prospect Park offers a place of quiet respite and recreation for anyone in need of a relaxing greenspace. Go on a run through Long Meadow and then listen to your favorite band play (for free!) during the Celebrate Brooklyn! summer concert series at the Bandshell. Or, when the temperature drops, head over to the Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center at Lakeside, which offers two huge new rinks for seasonal ice-skating, hockey, and of course, hot chocolate.
2. Holyrood Park
Holyrood Park offers a uniquely dramatic landscape in the heart of Edinburgh. The park is home to Scotland’s natural, craggy skyscrapers—the highest of which is actually a dormant volcano, commonly known as Arthur’s Seat. Climb to the top along a well-maintained path and get a look at the city from 251 meters above sea level. Visitors can also explore historic ruins in the park, ranging from prehistoric forts to chapel ruins from the 15th century. Regardless of the time of year, Holyrood Park is a prime example of how natural parks can be seamlessly integrated into the fabric of a city.
3. Shivaji Park
Although once used as a space for social and political gatherings, Shivaji Park is now one of Mumbai’s most popular places to play cricket, meet friends, or go for a walk. On any given day, you will be hard pressed to find the pitches at Shivaji Park empty, without crowds of people watching the competitive matches. The park provides paved walkways and open grassy areas leading to a number of playgrounds for people of all ages, from young children to senior citizens. Pay this park a visit to meet locals, eat delicious food, or find one of the best bookstores in the City!
4. Volkspark Friedrichshain
Listed as Berlin’s oldest city park, Volkspark Friedrichshain is the perfect place for locals and visitors, no matter the season. Its peculiar hills are formed from piled up wartime debris from the 1940s. After years of erosion and growth of greenery, the hills now appear to be completely natural features. During the summer months the Park opens up its tennis courts, half-pipe ramp, beer gardens, and outdoor cinema. Children also play in the Märchenbrunnen fountain, which holds 106 stone sculptures of characters that are inspired by Grimm’s fairy tales. In the winter, the park transforms into a popular destination for sledding and tobogganing.
5. Barton Springs
When not enjoying some of their world famous barbeque, Austinites and tourists alike flock to swim in the natural hot springs, Barton Springs. This federally protected water habitat reaches an 18-foot depth and is fed from an underground spring, allowing it to maintain an average temperature of 68-70 degrees all year long. Not up for swimming? Enjoy a good book or picnic on the surrounding grassy lawns. Fun Fact: At five years-old, Robert Redford learned to swim in these waters.
6. Parc Güell
Parc Güell has become one of Spain’s most famous and well-loved parks. It sits high on the Muntanya Pelada (bare mountain), providing unbeatable views over Barcelona’s city center and harbor. While most visitors come to see Antoni Gaudí’s monumental plaza in the center of the park, the surrounding green area is equally as innovative and enjoyable. Stroll through his dramatic viaducts and landscaping of native carob and olive trees, both of which help to defend the sloping parkland against erosion. Then if you’re feeling up to it, pay a small fee to enter the Plaça de la Naturaleza, where you can sit along the twisting mosaic bench and watch the sun set from this must-see UNESCO World Heritage Site.
7. Tempelhof Airport Park
Before being declared a park space in 2008, Tempelhof Airport Park was Germany’s largest airport, as well as a demonstration area for Orville Wright’s famous Wright Flyer. Today it’s one of Berlin’s most popular public spaces, with a seemingly endless 909 acres dedicated to biking, kite flying, or running around with a dog. The Park offers an extensive gardening section open for community use along with a barbeque and picnic area for group recreation. Even in the winter, residents and visitors come to Tempelhofer’s snow-covered grounds to walk or bike in the incomparably quiet, urban enclave.
8. Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Glasgow Botanic Gardens provides both outdoor and indoor activities, year-round. The topography of the outdoor Gardens is actually the result of glacial action during the ice ages. This unique topography provides a stimulating walking environment around the carefully curated groupings of plant collections. From spring to early summer, visitors can enjoy the Rhododendrons or check out the chronological beds, which arrange plants in the order of their introduction to Britain. During the winter, visitors can pop into the Palm Houses to sip on tea and watch the snow fall from inside the iron and glass walls. Be sure to seek out the deserted Botanic Gardens Railway Station, which is hidden behind some of the Gardens’ trees.
9. Fort Greene Park
brooklyn, new york
When an unexpected snow day closes schools, Brooklyn kids and families rush to Fort Greene Park to race their sleds down its rolling hills. Originally the site of military forts for the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, the site eventually became Brooklyn’s first public park, thanks to famed landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. Today, Fort Greene Park is a popular destination for people looking to unwind among tree-lined lawns and walking paths. Visit on Saturdays, when you can pick up some local snacks and veggies from the farmers market stand!
10. Ira Keller Fountain Park
The Ira Keller Fountain Park is about the closest you can come to standing next to a natural waterfall in an urban environment. Originally created by Lawrence Halprin in 1970, the fountains are designed so that waterfalls cascade through a series of 25-foot, tiered sculptures that are meant to evoke the High Sierras. Although the water shuts off during the winter, the sculpture that remains is a remarkable destination and is open to the public year round. Legendary New York Times architecture critic, Ada Louise Huxtable, dubbed the design “one of the most important urban spaces since the Renaissance.”