With summer in full swing, the weather is ripe for soaking up all the sun that you can outside. Colorado has a slew of options when it comes to passing time outdoors, but sometimes you’re looking for a more relaxing afternoon than a hike often affords.
In the midst of high-rise buildings, Denver’s parks offer a green oasis, an escape from the typical fast pace of city life. Whether you’re packing up a frisbee, Spikeball or a picnic basket, here are the top five parks in town and how to best enjoy them.
17th Avenue and York Street
Commonly considered to be the local version of New York City’s Central Park, City Park in Denver spans 330 acres. In addition to attractions like the Denver Zoo and Denver’s Museum of Nature and Science, on either of City Park’s two lakes, you can spot swans swimming when the weather is warm. But if swan watching is part of your afternoon, make sure to not get too close, since they breed throughout the summer.
If you like to visit Denver parks for a special occasion, City Park Jazz concerts, a tradition over 130 years old, take place throughout the summer every Sunday. These concerts showcase jazz, blues and salsa music from bands based in Colorado that you can enjoy with thousands of other locals.
1700 Sheridan Boulevard
Though you can see the Rocky Mountains from several parks throughout the city, the view from Sloan’s Lake Park in Denver’s Highlands neighborhood is one of the best. At 177 acres, the city’s second-largest park has the biggest lake in Denver. Sloan’s Lake is often rampant with water skiers in the summer, along with quite a few grills and picnic blankets surrounding the body of water.
1599 East 8th Street
In Capitol Hill, Cheesman Park is a great spot for jogging, biking or for families frolicking on the large playground together. In the summertime, locals love bringing lawn games to this spot.
The park also boasts Cheesman Memorial Pavilion, a Greek-style marble structure with three surrounding fountains. Once called the “Temple in the Sun,” the memorial was built in 1910 in memory of businessman Walter Scott Cheesman.
South Downing Street and East Louisiana Avenue
Washington Park has two lakes with paddle boat rentals but is perhaps best known for its flower gardens. One is a replica of George and Martha Washington's Mount Vernon garden in Vermont, added to the park—named for the centennial of George’s death—in 1926. The Perennial Garden, the largest flower garden in Denver, was created in 1918 with more than 15,000 varieties of blooms.