Find Solace Any Time of Year in 8 Gardens, Parks and Forests Around the GlobeBy Justine Harrington
Nature is always the answer. When you need a moment of respite — away from your job, your phone and the chaos of everyday life — getting outside is pure medicine.
And the places below provide some of the best entry points to nature around the world, whether it’s through vast verdant expanses, serene city parks, intricately landscaped botanical gardens or unique forests.
As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.
Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden; Cape Town, South Africa
Nestled at the eastern foot of Cape Town’s majestic Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden is one of the world’s biggest (and most scenic) botanical gardens, occupying 1,305 acres of verdant ground.
More than a quarter of Southern Africa’s 22,000 plant species are grown here, and there are various sculptures and artwork scattered among the succulents, wild gardenia, gigantic cycads and eye-popping flowering proteas.
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont; Paris, France
Escape the hordes of Paris tourists and flee to Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, where you’ll find students reading tattered paperbacks, families picnicking on hilltops and workers enjoying their lunch breaks fueled by café au lait.
The park is built on a former quarry, and there are waterfalls, a storybooklike lake, shaded walkways and rocky elevations with panoramic views of the city.
Olympic National Forest; Washington State, U.S.
Sixty miles west of Seattle, the Olympic National Forest encompasses coastal, mountainous and forest ecosystems that span more than half a million acres, with the Olympic Mountains smack-dab in the center.
The greens are unreal here — a spectrum of shades that must be seen to be believed. Emerald-colored moss clings to every surface, bright shoots of ferns abound and giant, mythical trunks of Sitka spruce, cedar and maple trees throng the trails.
Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore
At the spectacular Singapore Botanic Gardens, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d wandered into Eden itself. Paradise beckons in the form of immaculately landscaped gardens, thousands of species of jewel-like orchids and an entire rainforest. It’s the only tropical garden in the world to be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Stanley Park; Vancouver, Canada
In downtown Vancouver, Stanley Park is a peaceful, almost 1,000-acre pocket of wilderness in the middle of the city. There are several ways to enjoy these extensive grounds, including hiking trails, cycling paths along the seawall and a string of sandy beaches.
Bosque de Chapultepec; Mexico City, Mexico
As befits a city as endlessly vibrant and sprawling as Mexico City, Chapultepec Park is massive — at more than 1,600 acres, it’s twice the size of New York’s Central Park — and packed with a wide range of cultural attractions and activities.
Visit the National Museum of Anthropology (a Mexico City must-do) and the national cemetery, or beeline it to the recreational lake and botanical gardens.
This giant green expanse is always buzzing with activity, but there’s also plenty of space to enjoy soul-refreshing silence amid the trees.
El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico
The only tropical rainforest in the U.S. national forest system, El Yunque is a lush, steaming jumble of deep green vegetation, mountainous terrain, and ribbons of rivers and streams that serve as life sources for various species of bats, lizards, fish, migratory birds and more.
Keep an eye out for the endangered Puerto Rican parrot (the only native parrot in the U.S.), which was saved from extinction in the 1970s.
Kings Park; Perth, Australia
Easily one of the world’s most notable city parks, Kings Park features more than 3,000 varieties of native trees and plants and a brilliant display of wildflowers in spring.
Stroll among the treetops on the Federation Walkway, a 620-meter pathway that crosses over a canopy of tall eucalyptus.
And the park’s location — overlooking Perth City and the shining blue waters of the Swan River — is simply epic.