Don’t let the city limit your exploration of the great outdoors. Here are five first-class options for putting a little green in your gray.
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
A 1,000-acre behemoth, Golden Gate Park draws 13 million visitors a year, yet still offers hikers opportunities for relative solitude. Shakespeare Garden, a gated area in the east end of the park, is especially quiet on weekdays. Even farther east is the 10-acre National AIDS Memorial Grove, a beautiful and tranquil setting for remembrance. Many visitors find the Circle of Friends—containing an overwhelming number of names of lives affected by AIDS—particularly moving.
High Line Park, New York City
Debuting in 2009, this 1.45-mile-long elevated (three stories) linear park spans from the Meatpacking District on Manhattan’s Lower West Side through Chelsea before ending at the Rail Yards near 34th Street. Beautifully landscaped and adorned with sporadic works of art, the High Line offers some stretches that feel secluded, even in the middle of a major metropolis.
Alameda Ridge & Stairs, Portland, Oregon
Leisurely? No. Gently rolling hills? Sorry. This is straight up hike-as-workout. The Alameda Ridge neighborhood has 11 staircases ranging from 30 to 127 steps, a few of them hidden within hedges. At the top, striking views of the city and local architecture will distract you from the screaming of your quadriceps. Just make sure you have a map or GPS. There are plenty of twists and turns on your way up and down.
Lakefront Trail, Chicago
Curving gently along 18 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, Chicago’s Lakefront Trail ranges from bustling to deserted, depending on the time of day or season. It offers easy access to a long list of attractions, including Navy Pier, the Museum of Science & Industry, the Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium, and Lincoln and Grant parks.
The Old Los Angeles Zoo, Griffith Park, Los Angeles
Walking in what is now a picnic area in Griffith Park, your surroundings may suddenly look familiar. This zoo, abandoned since 1965, was the backdrop for the bear scenes in Will Ferrell’s Anchorman movie. You may have also seen it as the Pawnee Zoo in Parks & Recreation. It’s an easy hike, and kids love exploring the still-intact cages.