Celebrate Earth Day in the city? You betcha!
We all know the definition of a city… glass and brass buildings rising into the skies, cement sidewalks full of hustling and bustling city dwellers, a Starbucks on every corner… and a lush green botanical oasis? Wait a minute…
As U.S. cities continue to grow, there has been an emphasis on keeping our downtowns green. And, what better way to celebrate your Earth Day weekend at Stay Alfred than by visiting a few of the amazing urban parks in our cities. From Fairmount Park in Philadelphia to Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland, there are plenty of these verdant urban spaces to choose from, and you won’t have to go far from your Stay Alfred to enjoy exploring our amazing planet this Earth Day.
While staying with us means you’ll be staying in the heart of a downtown metropolis, it doesn’t mean you can’t also get some time with nature. These gorgeous parks are hallmarks of the cities they’re in and we encourage you to stop by. Why not pack a picnic in your Stay Alfred kitchen and head on over?
Alphabetized by city, let’s take a look at some of the great parks and places to celebrate Earth Day near your Stay Alfred travel apartment.
Twenty one acres of green-space bliss in downtown Atlanta, Centennial Olympic Park boasts the awesome Fountain of Rings interactive water feature, a must-see with its computer-controlled lights adding color to jets of water synchronized to music--a truly dazzling visual display and great splash pad for cooling down hot kids (ok, and adults, too). A great spot to get your Earth Day on, the park is loaded with mature, native trees and ample grassy areas to sink your toes into. The park also features a flag display celebrating the 1996 Summer Olympics, eight 65-foot-tall (20 m) light towers in the style of classical Greek marker columns, several pieces of sculpture, an amphitheatre with great frequent live performances, and SkyView Atlanta, a 200-foot (61 m) ferris wheel offering great views of the park!
Resting on the tree-shaded shores of Lady Bird Lake, the massive Zilker Metro Park offers 351 acres of green space, water fun such as kayaking and swimming, and paths for running, jogging, biking, or whatever suits your fancy this Earth Day. Gardens and natural springs abound in this downtown park, and, adjacent to the 416 acre Lady Bird Lake, you can paddle or trail-run all day and see plenty of wildlife. Shaded hills make for a great spot to relax, and the Zilker Botanical Garden's ponds, streams, and waterfalls are sure to inspire that Earth Day moment!
An urban oasis in the heart of Baltimore, Druid Hill Park is an architecture enthusiast’s delight, as well as a great space to celebrate Earth Day. Take a tour of the park’s Moorish Tower, Chinese Pavilion and the Baltimore Conservatory displaying plants from all over the world. Hot out? Take a dip in the swimming pool or let the kids splash in the wading pool. Bring your racket and enjoy a game of tennis under Baltimore skies. Take your pick between two 18-hole golf courses, one in the park and another in the woods, or ride or walk the 1-1/2-mile Reservoir Loop and enjoy views of the lake. Got more Earth Day in yuh? Head on over to the park’s Maryland Zoo and learn about wildlife conservation and efforts to save creatures from frogs to gorillas from extinction.
The 89.4-acre Julia Davis Park is home of Zoo Boise, Boise Art Museum, Idaho State Historical Museum, Discovery Center of Idaho and Idaho Black History Museum, plus paddle-boating galore, Julia Davis Park is Boise’s oldest green space. Named after an early Boise settler, the park also features a gorgeous rose garden, two pavilions, a six-court tennis complex, playground, and duck pond, as well as a section of the Boise River Greenbelt.
Established in 1634, Boston Common & Public Garden is one of the nation’s oldest public spaces! Spanning over 64 acres, you’ll find a vast collection of lush greenery and sculptures. How do you feel about giant boats with swans on them? Boston Common is known for their swan boats. They offered their first ride in 1870. Grab the camera and hop on the boat. This is a unique way to experience the park that kids and adults will love.
Charlotte’s Freedom Park boasts 98 acres of green space and is a great spot for sinking in those Earth Day toes. Centered on a 7-acre lake, the park has paved trails for running and biking, tennis/volleyball courts for getting your game on under North Carolina skies, and sports fields and playground equipment so the kids can stretch their legs alfresco. The kids will also love the steam engine installment where they can tour the cab and learn a bit about Charlotte history.
A park within a park, Millennium Park is a popular portion of the 319-acre Grant Park, which is known as Chicago’s “front lawn.” Either way, you’re outside and in gorgeously treed and grassy surroundings on Earth Day, but be sure to hit the Millenium section and check out a free performance in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, see the Cloud Gate sculpture, the Crown Fountain, and the Lurie Garden. Built atop an old railroad yard, Millennium Park is one of the largest green roofs in the world. What a great place to celebrate Earth Day!
Nothing breaks up the bricks and bustle of the big city like a green grove of trees and sparkling water feature, and that’s what Cleveland’s Public Square is known for. The 10-acre square rests at the base of Cleveland's three tallest buildings, and features an expansive water fountain, verdant grassy spaces with mature trees, a natural amphitheater, and promenade perfect for an Earth Day stroll. The fountain’s splash pad lets the kids cool off, and with the iconic Cleveland buildings and clocktower as a backdrop, there’s your Earth Day Instagram right there!
A 6-acre park in the heart of downtown, Columbus Commons features gardens, a performance stage, carousel, reading room, a cutting-edge playground and two cafes. It’s a great spot to catch an Earth Day performance, or just to toss a frisbee and run barefoot on the grass.
Another great C-town metro green space, the 4.6-acre Bicentennial Park features the Scioto Mile Fountain with its 15,000-square-foot splash pad shooting 1,000 jets of water where the kids can beat the Cleveland heat. There’s also a glass-enclosed restaurant with a view of the fountain, and Cleveland’s Performing Arts Pavilion hosting concerts, movies, and dance performances.
Klyde Warren Park - Dallas - This 5.2-acre green scape is the perfect spot to experience nature in the city. Located on the edge of the Arts District, this city park takes up 3 full city blocks and features a play fountain and even a troupe of food trucks on the weekend. This park has free yoga on Saturday mornings and a game area. Pictionary and parks anyone? To top it all off, this engineering miracle is actually built over the recessed Woodall Rodgers Freeway. You don’t get much more urban than that.
If you’re a floral fan, then you’ll find the meticulously designed floral displays at Alamo Placita park bloomin’ great. This park has earned the distinction of being called one of Denver’s most ideal and beautiful parks. After a visit, we’re sure you’ll see why. The park also boasts a picnic area and a playground, so grab the family and head on over.
A stunning urban oasis filled with colorful plants sure to dazzle on Earth Day, The Fort Worth Water Gardens boasts three pools with different plants from around the world. The Water Garden’s quiet pool is an ideal place to escape the bustle and bricks of Fort Worth for a bit, or beat the heat by cooling off in the cascading pool’s fountain spray. Surrounding trees and plants attract a variety of birds and other wildlife.
Downtown Houston’s grooviest green space, Discovery Green offers 12 acres of park fun, including a great play area, lake, amphitheater, event lawn and more. Join a yoga class on the grass, or stroll the Brown Foundation Promenade a shaded walkway, lined with 100-year-old oak trees. There’s no better way to celebrate Earth Day than that!
Green spaces, trails, and waterways abound in the 250 beautiful acres White River State Park offers in downtown Indianapolis, making it THE place to be on Earth Day. Back that up with cultural, educational, and recreational attractions parkwide, and White River is a full day of fun and sun for the whole crew. Other attractions in and near the park include the Indiana State Museum and IMAX Theater, the Indianapolis Zoo and White River Gardens, and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.
Overlooking the Mississippi River, this 30-acre park boasts unparalleled panoramic views of Downtown Memphis. And when you’re visiting the city, what’s better than that? The park is named after Tom Lee, a great citizen who saved 32 people from drowning, despite his own inability to swim. Talk about heroism! This park is home to a variety of events including the Beale Street Music Festival and the World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest! Get ready to rock out or pig out in the park, during Memphis in May.
Bayfront Park Palm trees blowing in the breeze, 32 acres of grass to play on, and oh that Biscayne Bay view! Yes you can escape the pavement and highrises of Miami on Earth Day. Take a seat on the lawn at the Klipsch Amphitheatre for a great live performance, or hit the Tina Hills Pavilion open-air pavilion to hear a great band. Bayfront is Miami’s premier green space.
Another great little greenspace, the 8-acre Simpson Park boasts a quieter setting and nature preserve that’s home to 15 endangered plant species, such as the flowering Licaria triandra tree, and 9 threatened plant species to learn about on Earth Day.
Gold Medal Park is a 7.5-acre park in the Downtown East neighborhood. Taking its design inspiration from the Native American mounds that are found throughout Minnesota, the park is made of one 32-foot-high mound you can climb via a spiral walkway rising above the 300 mature trees outlining the park. Just east of the Guthrie Theater, Gold Medal Park offers this busy part of Minneapolis with quality green space, especially worth visiting on Earth Day.
Stretching from Vanderbilt to the Hospital Corporation of America, this lush green space is a gentle reminder that nature still belongs in the city. Centennial Park is home to a full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens. Did somebody say photo opp? And for kiddos who may be bored by ancient history, check out the plane and train on display.
If you love birds, then Audubon Park is the place for you. Established in 1982, this beautiful city park is the perfect place to relax, bird watch, or go for a jog. Even better yet, Audubon Park is home to a labyrinth, an insectarium, an aquarium, a zoo and even the “tree of life” aka the city’s premier tree climbing spot. While no one's quite sure how old this tree actually is, experts estimate it’s somewhere between 100 and 500 years old.
Easily one of the largest municipal parks in Philly, Fairmount Park covers a staggering 9,200 acres. That’s ten percent of the city! Fairmount is home to numerous public art pieces and more than a few historical buildings. At Fairmount, you’ll also find the Philadelphia Zoo! It’s not everyday you can see both tiger lilies and tigers in the same place. But you’ll get it all at Fairmount Park!
Enjoy sitting on the grass, that moist, green organic, under the shade of trees in Civic Space Park this Earth Day. Not only do you get the verdant surrounds, but this park was designed with Earth in mind, too. Sustainable construction, from solar panels generating 75 kilowatts of power (enough to power 8 to 9 residential homes) and offsetting the park's lighting and electrical needs to location, with immediate access to light rail stations just feet away, make this Earth-smart park the planet’s best friend. And, it’s just a great place for an Earth Day picnic, too, with ramadas located throughout the park making great spots for cookouts or just lounging alfresco in Phoenix.
Point State Park (aka The Point) is a great park on 36 acres in downtown Pittsburgh; one loaded with mature trees and open grassy areas great for a round of Earth Day frisbee or just a healthy nap under open skies. Resting at the confluence of three rivers, The Point is at the tip of Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle, and commemorates the location’s French and Indian War (1754-1763) heritage, and also features preserved ruins of two of the oldest structures in Pittsburgh, Fort Pitt and Fort Duquesne. The Point is also a great place to catch major cultural Pittsburgh events, such as the Venture Outdoors Festival, Three Rivers Arts Festival and Three Rivers Regatta.
Voted one of America's ten greatest public spaces by the American Planning Association in 2012, Tom McCall Waterfront Park, covering 5.2 acres, is the perfect spot to people watch and enjoy views of the beautiful Willamette River. If it’s a hot day, you can cool off by running through the Salmon Street Springs, fountains that change in tandem with the city's mood. And, because Portland is so quirky, you can stop by the world’s smallest park, Mills End Park, on your way to Tom McCall.
Here’s a sweet spot to get your Earth Day rolling proper. Boasting 343 acres of trees and grass, as well as San Antonio Zoo, Witte Museum, Japanese Tea Gardens, Sunken Garden Theater, Tuesday Musical Club, and more, Brackenridge Park is an epic greenspace just a couple miles north of downtown San Antonio. Brackenridge also boasts multiple baseball fields, playgrounds, pavilions, and walking trails great for stretching legs and getting some sun. Other nearby attractions include The DoSeum (a hands-on museum for kids) and the San Antonio Botanical Garden, another Earth Day hit!
This 1,200-acre urban oasis is a spectacle not to be missed. Home to the amazing San Diego Zoo, this park is a one of a kind spot to experience nature and everything San Diego. In fact, this park is bigger than New York’s Central Park. From museums to artistry, this place has it all! It even had a nudist colony at one point! (Don’t worry, they’ve now vacated so feel free to bring the kids.) Fun fact about this place, an orangutan named Ken Allen once escaped three times from the San Diego zoo. Zookeepers had to go undercover in order to find out exactly how this escape artist was pulling it off.
Offering great walking paths, an awesome play area, and home to Savannah's Garden of Fragrance for visually impaired, Forsyth Park is a great place for Earth Day fun for all. There’s also a large fountain, tennis courts, basketball courts, areas for soccer and Frisbee, and the park is home field for Savannah Shamrocks Rugby Club. Along with enjoying Forsyth’s stately structures and manicured lawns bordered by mature trees, you might be able to catch a free concert, so check the schedule at the link above.
A great place for walking, running, biking, rollerblading, and more, Chaparral Park boasts 100 acres of green space to enjoy on Earth Day. There’s a Greenbelt multi-use path that takes you through this verdant landscape, plus a lake for boating or fishing. Take a dip in the pool or enjoy an event at the community center. The playground is a great spot for the kids to stretch their legs and get some sun, and sports courts, including volleyball, basketball, and a 10-station exercise course means fun and fitness for everyone. Four ramadas make great spots for the whole crew to hang out on Earth Day in Chaparral Park.
Nestled away on Capitol Hill, Cal Anderson Park is a true gem of Seattle. With multiple fountains and reflecting pools, this park perfectly combines nature and art in the big city. So much so, that it was named one of America’s best city parks by Forbes. Head on back to Cal Anderson on July 4 if you’re a hula hoop master. You may just win their yearly contest.
Riverfront Park boasts 100 acres of world-class riverfront fun in the heart of downtown Spokane, plus loads of events that are a great way to celebrate Earth Day. Located on the banks of the spectacular Spokane River, footpaths and bridges take you along and over roaring and jaw-dropping waterfall vistas. Created 45 years ago for Expo '74, a World's Fair event, Riverfront Park features a 145-foot Pavilion and a 155-foot clock tower, both Spokane icons. Other great Riverfront Park features include the Riverfront Park Carousel, a splash pad to keep cool in summer, an IMAX theatre, and a gondola skyride over the falls that’s a blast for kids, ok, adults, too.
Attracting over one million people annually, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park on the Tampa waterfront is the place to be on Earth Day. The kids’ll love splashing away in the park’s fantastic water, and walking trails along the Hillsborough river are a great way to stretch your legs and get some fresh air. The Tampa Riverwalk, Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, Tampa Museum of Art, Glazer Children's Museum, and Rivergate Tower are all right nearby, with the Waterfront Arts district being one of Tampa’s must-sees, too. Spend this Earth Day chilling in the park’s open grassy areas that slope gently towards the river in a series of wide terraces. There are also several fountains to check out, a large playground for the kids, shaded pavilions and an amphitheater offering live performances, plus a great garden area!
With more than 5 miles of paths and 25 acres of green space, plus sports fields and access to Tempe Town Lake water fun, Tempe Beach Park is the perfect place to get your Earth Day on! Bring fixin’s for a picnic and dine alfresco or in one of the park’s cozy ramadas. Tempe Beach Park also hosts dozens of events each summer, so check the schedule to see what’s going on on Earth Day.
This historic national park is adjacent to the National Mall. It spans from the south end of the Lincoln Memorial Reflection Pool to the Washington Monument. There are too many memorials to list here but you’ll find most honor the heroic and presidential. Whether you’re buying an ice cream from a local street vendor and relaxing on the grass, or embarking on a history lesson as you wander from memorial to memorial, this is a spot you don’t want to miss. As an added bonus, springtime brings with it the blooming of the 1,678 cherry trees that line the Tidal Basin. This park, in addition to its historical significance, is also overwhelmingly beautiful. It will surely be a favorite on your trip to D.C.