The Best Parks Around the World (From Pro Travelers!)

Annie Daly
·Contributing Editor
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Sometimes, all you need in life is a good park sit. (Photo: iStock) 

Here in America, we love our National Parks. And while we wouldn’t give those up for anything in the world, there are also lots of other sweet parks out there around the globe that are worth an afternoon sit. So we asked our Yahoo Travel Explorers, many of whom make an entire living on the road, to list their favorite parks in the world — and why they love them so much. Some of them named parks close to home; some named parks far away. Some named national parks; some named local parks. And that’s the best thing about parks: There are tons to choose from, and they all deliver something a little bit different. 

Check out our Explorers’ favorite parks around the world. If you see one you love, we highly suggest planning a trip to see it. After all, there is nothing like a good park adventure. 

1. Le Jardin Du Luxembourg, France

“Though this literally translates to “The Luxembourg Garden,” I consider this a park. Just like most things in France, Le Jardin du Luxembourg has a refined dignity about it that I mostly attribute to its meticulous flower beds, romantic statues and a little thing called the Luxembourg Palace.

It’s an exceptionally beautiful park in an exceptionally beautiful neighborhood in an exceptionally beautiful city. So, a lot of exceptional beauty happening here. It’s also cool because of its central location near the Sorbonne in the sixth arrondissement. That means it’s a meeting place for students, working professionals, tourists, families and everything in between. In other words, everyone is welcome!” — Tausha Cowan

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Le Jardin Du Luxembourg. (Photo: Tausha Cowan)

2. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

“Located about two hours from Croatia’s capital is Plitvice Lakes National Park. Hang out here, and step into another world, one of crystal-clear water, gorgeous paths to explore, and more waterfalls than I can believe exist in one area. While it is where the war began in 1991, today Plitvice is a wonderland of nature. It is the perfect day trip from Zagreb or Zadar and includes some easy treks that provide some of the most spectacular views I have ever seen of the lakes and waterfalls.” — Diana Edelman

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Plitvice Lakes National Park. (Photo: Diana Edelman)

3. Corlears Hook Park, New York City

“It’s the view from the desk in my apartment, and it has incredible history. Originally a marshland used by Lenape Native Americans to land their canoes, Dutch settlers of the mid-1600s developed this area’s graded coastline. During the American Revolutionary War, Washington’s fleeing Colonial Army was impeded by a series of earthen barricades built here. During the tenement-building era, this was a quarter of brothels, hence the origin of the slang term for prostitute—hooker. Now it’s a great place to watch the seasons change.” —Bruce Northam

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Corlears Hook Park. (Photo: Bruce Northam)

4. Frogner Park, Oslo, Norway

“My favorite park in the world is in Oslo, Norway. Norwegian artist Gustav Vigeland installed over 200 of his sculptures in Oslo’s Frogner Park. It represents his life work from 1907-1942 and contains 212 sculptures. The artworks feature men, women and children acting out various human relationships in life.

The statues are whimsical and magical all at the same time, and you will enjoy seeing the faces of each of the statues. The park is the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist and is as interesting as it is huge (80 acres). As you make your way down to the end of the garden, you will see his masterpiece water fountain. And then up the stairs, you can visit the largest sculpture piece there, the Monolith Plateau, which is made up of 46 human figures stacked on top of each other and carved from a single piece of granite!” — Cacinda Mahoney

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Frogner Park. (Photo: Cacinda Mahoney)

5. Volkspark Friedrichshain, Berlin, Germany

“While most tourists in Berlin visit the Tiergarten—Germany’s 3rd largest public park—most locals actually hang out in the smaller, more local parks. The neighborhood park in Friedrichshain (just a short 20-minute walk from Alexanderplatz in the city center) is one of those that has something for everyone.

The hilltop space is popular with weekend raves that go on all night, while a lake and beer garden at the foot of the hill are popular with young families having weekend barbecues. There’s a running path, an outdoor cinema, beach volleyball pits and even a corner of the park with a series of fountains and sculptures depicting German fairy tale creatures.” — Adam Groffman

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Volkspark Friedrichshain. (Photo: Adam Groffman)

6. White Sands National Park, New Mexico

“Not that I have been to the Moon (yet), but White Sands National Monument in New Mexico fills my imagination of what a lunar visit would be like. It is easy to drive anywhere in the park, walk a few yards, and be completely surrounded by miles of delicate white sand, as far as your eyes can see. Early morning, my favorite time to visit, is eerily quiet and the sand appears untouched, like someone came along during the night and swept away the previous day’s footprints. It should be called Magic Sands.

Bring your own plastic saucer, or rent one at the entrance station, and spend a glorious day sliding on sand mountains. Sliding is tons of fun but, believe me, walking up takes a lot of effort. When you are hungry, take a break at one of the ethereal picnic shelters. Go ahead and convince me this is not the Moon.” — Charles McCool

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White Sands National Park. (Photo: Charles McCool)

7. Parc Mont Royal, Montreal

“The highest point in the French Canadian city of Montreal is the peak of Parc Mont Royal, and it is also one of its greatest attractions. In winter it is the home of renegade skiers and snowboarders, but in summer the park really comes alive. Every Sunday hundreds of percussionists come together to create one of the largest drum circles in North America, where no amount (or lack of) skill is required to join in the foot-tapping fun.

Circus performers hoping to make their big break in the famed Cirque du Soleil practice their tricks in the surrounding forest, encouraged by hordes of eager observers. Mini psy-trance raves emerge on special occasions, but the true highlight lies in the trees behind the drum circle. Huge groups of medieval role players clash in huge, elaborate fights that last for hours, with costumes and home-made weapons being created as though they would be used on a Hollywood set. Parc Mont Royal is a happening place, and no trip to Montreal would be complete without spending at least one Sunday there.” — Alesha and Jarryd Salem

8. The Park Güell, Barcelona

“The famous and wild Antoni Gaudí designed the whole park and it’s covered in mosaic. Plus, you can sit on the terrace and admire the city from up high. It’s an amazing place to go on a summer afternoon and very special for a lot of people!” — Beth Santos

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The Park Guell. (Photo: Beth Santos)

9. Bidwell Park in Chico, California

“I went to college at Chico State, and we loved riding our bikes around the loop, jumping into One Mile swimming hole on a hot day, and hiking to the upper cliffs to discover hidden swimming holes. It’s the country’s third largest municipal park, and we got to play in it year-round! If Chico is the best little college town in the world, and it’s largely because of Bidwell Park.” — Christine Amorose

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Bidwell Park. (Photo: Christine Amorose)

10. The Grand Canyon

“No matter how many times we visit, the Grand Canyon astounds us. It is just so…grand! It’s pretty difficult to describe just what is so absolutely wonderful about this place. The sheer size alone is hard to take in much less to describe. The scenery is lovely and it really gives one a sense of place. It makes us feel so small, and then you look at the Colorado River down there at the very bottom and you realize that water, yes just something as simple as water, has carved this incredible wonder that you stand before in complete awe. Now who’s up for a road trip to see it again?” — Lauren & Kenin Bassart

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The Grand Canyon. (Photo: Lauren & Kenin Bassart)

11. Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

“It’s by far one of the wildest places I’ve visited. During my visit there I had the opportunity to photograph the otherworldly Columbia Ice Fields, the magical ice formations in Maligne Canyone, and several of the other scenic spots around the park, such as Pyramid Mountain, and the local ski area, Marmot Basin.

I was raised just a few hours south of this park in the Canadian Rockies, but only visited for the first time last year. The mountains up there have a whole different type of majesty. It’s like being on the set of Game of Thrones. I can think of no other park that awed me the way Jasper did.” — Matt Gibson

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Jasper National Park. (Photo: Matt Gibson)

12. Yellowstone National Park, Montana

“It’s is one of my favourites in the world. Montana truly is big sky country, with incredible views and it’s amazing to see so many animals roaming around and herds of bison.” — Ayngelina Brogan

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Yellowstone National Park. (Photo: Ayngelina Brogan)

13. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

“It is a world in itself.  Sip tea in a pagoda in the Japanese Tea Garden; dance through rhododendron dell, meditate or mourn in the AIDS forest,paddle past a waterfall in Stow Lake, jog beside grazing bison and a Dutch windmill before collapsing in the sand dunes at Ocean Beach, ride on a carrousel, meander through orchids in a glass arboretum, or stretch your mind at a Science or Fine Arts museum.  I believe there’s no better place to boost your spirits or soothe your soul in San Francisco.” — Marybeth Bond

14. Union Square Park, New York City

“My favorite park is Union Square Park in New York because it’s mostly filled with locals and isn’t overcrowded. It’s also a spot to watch crews dance their hearts out. Just the other day we were watching an incredible break dancer who is also on America’s Got Talent and uses the park as a place to practice and perform.” — Carri Wilbanks

15. Zion National Park, Utah

“I’ve always been drawn to parks for their ability to make the rest of the world disappear into green oblivion. I’ve reported on the most spectacular parks on the planet and practically live in one (that would be Central Park). But if there’s one place that haunts me, in the best way possible, it’s Utah’s Zion National Park. I still remember the first time I hiked up Angel’s Landing, holding on to the support chains, heart drumming until I reached the top,1,488 feet up in the heavens, and understood why it was totally worth the I’m-going-to-fall-and-die rush of adrenaline.

If you want to feel like you’re living life on the edge (quite literally) it doesn’t get much better than Angel’s Landing. Zion is a fascinating park for its wide-open spaces and for The Narrows, a twenty-foot-wide, thousand-foot-tall gorge, where the fiery red canyon and Virgin River make for one wild aquatic adventure in the summer.” — Lauren Matison Crossley

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Zion National Park. (Photo: Lauren Matison Crossley)

16. Tempelhof Park, Berlin, Germany

“If the name Tempelhof sounds familiar from your history classes of years past, it’s because it was the airport instrumental to the Berlin Airlift (June 1948-May 1949), when American and British forces delivered food, fuel and other supplies to West Berlin during the Soviet blockade. In 2008 the airport officially closed and today this bit of history is a park open to the public, runways and all. The park is massive — slightly larger than New York City’s Central Park — and has public gardens, barbecue plots, dog parks, a beer garden, and more. On weekends with good weather it is packed with people from all over the city — from hipsters to conservative Turkish families — all enjoying its space and openness. It also offers the possibility of riding your bicycle down one of the airport runways, as free as a bird, hoping that you just might take off. Now where else can you do that?”

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17. Ngorongoro Crater, Africa

“I had been in Africa for a few days before I visited this park. I had already seen elephants, giraffes, baboons and other animals at Lake Manyara, but it was not until I was sitting in a RangeRover in the middle of a herd of wildebeests or zebras that my brain was really willing to accept that I was in Africa. Combine with that close up encounters with lions or the chance at seeing an endangered black Rhino and there really is no other park like it on the planet.” — Chris Christensen

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Ngorongoro Crater. (Photo: Chris Christensen)

18. Yosemite National Park, California

“The second you come out of the tunnel on the drive into the park and have the view down the valley, it’s impossible to not fall in love with the place. Camping in the valley and seeing majestic peaks rise into the sky wherever you look adds to the grandeur. It seems like everywhere you look, waterfalls are flowing. Weather you want to hike to one of those falls, stand on the edge of a cliff, or walk through the woods, the park has some of the most amazing hikes in the world. Every time I visit, I’m reminded why Yosemite National Park is on top of so many people’s bucket lists. Last time I visited, I was treated to a majestic fog layer which floated and danced between the trees. Experiences like this are why Yosemite is my favorite park in the world.” — Eric Rubens

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Yosemite National Park. (Photo: Eric Rubens)

19. English Garden, Munich, Germany

“It’s a paradise in the middle of the city and is bigger than Central Park in NYC! You can cycle over 12km to the four different beer gardens, play an impromptu game of frisbee, or watch the surfers on a standing wave. Naturally, it’s also great for sunbathing, and the uninhibited can even go without a bathing suit in certain areas! Best of all, it’s where the community gathers and you can find live music and even performances during the summer!” — Laurel Robbins

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English Garden. (Photo: Laurel Robbins)

20. General San Martin Park, Mendoza, Argentina

“The Pond in Central Park is one of my favorite places in the world to relax and people watch, but since moving to Mendoza, General San Martin Park is growing on me. It’s an enormous green space that stretches over 165-acres in downtown Mendoza. Every day you’ll find locals enjoying a mate or exercising around a picturesque lake with a beautiful rose garden and frequent regattas.

It’s also home to an elaborate European-inspired 30-foot iron fountain with four majestic mermaids holding seashells–a work of art in its own right. You can catch a soccer match at the 40,000-seat Malvinas stadium or enjoy the world-renowned Grape Harvest Festival every March at the Frank Romero Day Greek Theater. One of my favorite things to do in the park is to climb the steep 45-minute trek up Cerro de La Gloria (Glory Hill) for a rewarding panoramic view of the city. There’s also an impressive bronze monument honoring Argentina’s liberator, General San Martin.” — Nora Walsh

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General San Martin Park. (Photo: Nora Walsh)

21. Mossman Gorge, Queensland Australia

“In a country and state full of natural wonders, there’s something a little extra special about Mossman Gorge in Tropical North Queensland. Part of the UNESCO World Heritage Wet Tropics Site, this Gondwana Rainforest is amongst the oldest on the planet, around 140 million years old. 

Many of the plants and animals in this park exist only here and harken back to an age when dinosaurs roamed the planet. Exploring Mossman Gorge, located about 15 minutes from Port Douglas, isn’t just an important and educational experience, it’s also a lot of fun. Trekking through the jungle with an indigenous Kuku Yalanji guide and taking a dip in the chilly but refreshing waters is just one of those travel experiences everyone has to try at least once in their lives.” — Matt Long

Mossman Gorge. (Photo: Matt Long) 

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