If you take City Parks Alliance‘s word for it, parks are power.
“These green spaces provided relief from urban intensity for residents and [bring] people together across social, economic and racial divides,” says the organization’s website. “As cities across the country are attracting millions of residents again, the center of this sweeping urban renaissance are newly revitalized parks.”
To celebrate National Take a Walk in the Park Day – always March 30 – we’re highlighting five of our favorite green spaces Downtown. What’s your favorite urban oasis? Let us know in the comment section below.
The flowers are blooming, and urbanites are beaming in Jacksonville’s oldest park. The park’s GreenMarket kicks off this Friday, and the Friends of Hemming Park team can’t wait for you to check it out.
“Adding to the richness of Downtown Jacksonville is the most exciting piece of the market,” said Keith Marks, outreach and marketing director for Hemming Park. “It’s a unique experience Hemming will provide Downtown Jacksonville – a chance to meet friends, be surrounded by trees, and support local creators are all great reasons to get excited.”
While the GreenMarket will be a weekly mainstay – every Friday 3:30-6:30 p.m. – it only scratches the surface of the amenities and happenings the park offers daily.
“Fresh air, Wi-Fi, live music, free fitness classes, chess and checkers, Imagination Playground, socializing with friends, and being a part of a re-energized Downtown,” Marks said. “Doesn’t get any better than that!”
Did you know this gorgeous Downtown setting was once considered for demolition? Now, the park boasts a beautifully lit fountain, picnic tables, benches, a pergola, a children’s play area and more. And you can catch light shows every night. Bonus: at the base of Friendship Fountain, where it borders the St. Johns River, is the start of the newly renovated Southbank Riverwalk.
We recommend: Romance in the River City doesn’t get any easier than a delicious Southbank fine-dining experience followed by a walk around the fountain with your sweetie.
Main Street Park
If you’re looking for artistic inspiration in your green space, this is the spot. As the home of two Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville SPARK District projects, you’ll find a collection of sculptures courtesy of Sculpture Walk Jax, plus the peaceful – and piece-ful – mosaic nature scenes by RouxArt.
We recommend: Not only is it a great place to peruse impressive artwork, it’s also is a perfect location to soak up some rays with a good book you just checked out from the Main Library, directly across the street.
The Treaty Oak at Jessie Ball duPont Park
You know a place is picturesque when having an engagement photoshoot in Treaty Oak Park is named one of “100 Things To Do In Northeast Florida Before You Die.” A breathtaking historic oak calls this park home – the tree’s roots (hah, pardon the pun) go back 250 years.
We recommend: Picnic, anyone? Pack your favorite snacks and non-alcoholic beverages for a picnic in the shade provided by the oak’s massive, magnificent canopy.
A popular place for outdoor festivals and concerts, Metropolitan Park also caters to individuals looking for a wide-open space to clear their mind or burn a few calories. Busy moms can relax on the grassy field while the kids play a game of tag, and fitness buffs will love the ample space for running drills and stretch exercises. It’s also a nice place for those who prefer to travel Downtown by boat – the park hosts a marina that is free for anyone to use, with paid electricity access, if needed.
We recommend: With 27-acres for maximum event crowds, Metro Park outdoor events and concerts are a must-experience. From the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra’s Starry Nights summer concert to the rockin’ Big Ticket music fest each December, there’s always a park palooza on its way.
More than a dozen parks dot Downtown; check out the full list in our parks directory. And it’s not long now until another one launches. Unity Plaza at 220 Riverside is nearly complete – for the latest updates, visit Unity Plaza’s Facebook page.