Calling all city-dwellers: You need an escape. Research shows spending time in green spaces (read: nature) makes us happier, less stressed, and less anxious, so seeking out the best urban parks and trails near you is paramount to your well-being.
Escapes—whether mental or physical—are highly important for your physical and mental health. They help us find ways to decompress, and hightailing it to the best urban parks and trails provide the added benefit of exercise.
Surveying what’s right in your own backyard may be the simplest way to rediscover what’s been waiting for you outdoors. As the author and activist Edward Abbey wrote, “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.”
Here, we’ve rounded up some of the best urban parks and trails in the U.S. From the 1904 World’s Fair site to a Los Angeles observatory, we found outdoor spaces that inspire and invigorate. Feel free to simply soak in their beauty, or look into getting outdoors and enjoying them yourself.
1. Forest Park, St. Louis, MO
Yes, this park is where you can find the Saint Louis Zoo, Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri History Museum, Saint Louis Science Center (all free), and The Muny Opera. But it’s also where you’ll find trails to run and bike, golf courses, tennis courts, and soccer fields. It’s the original site of the 1904 World’s Fair (also known as The Louisiana Purchase Exposition). Measuring in at 1,371 acres, the space is larger than New York City’s Central Park. On your visit, be sure to check out the boathouse to scope out the ducks (do Holden’s friends fly West?) and enjoy a waterfront lunch. P.S. Forest Park’s Anne O’C Albrecht Nature Playscape is the park’s most recent addition, and has plenty of kid-friendly draws, as well as a host of accessible paths and boardwalks.
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