Sydney may take the cake for one of the most beautiful city skylines on the planet and the best beaches, (no bias there, whatsoever) but nestled in and around the big smoke and beyond our coastline is one stellar line-up of next level parks.
And the best part about them? They sit beachside, riverside, next to the city and even on lush headlands so you can watch the sunrise or set, surrounded by natural bliss. Whether you’re looking for the next best place to zen out, the ultimate space for a summer BBQ or just a nice stretch of green to kick a footy around, we’ve got you sorted.
These are the best parks to check out in Sydney.
Let’s just say, North Sydney Council truly nails it when it comes to having some of the prettiest and historically significant parks. Milson Park is a huge standout as one of Sydney’s best, boasting harbour views, towering palm trees, picnic tables, dog areas (with some restrictions) and one stellar community garden. This foreshore park is also a sweet spot for Jacaranda trees come springtime.
Clifton Gardens Reserve
This waterfront park in Mosman is a great spot to visit on the weekend. Nestled behind a harbour beach, you can jump between the grass and the ocean with ease. Spend a lazy Sunday birdwatching, or grab a coffee and a bite to eat while the kids visit the decked out playground. There’s even an area for dogs to run off the leash so they don’t have to be left behind.
Manly Warringah War Memorial State Park
Known as Manly Dam, this park will give you all the wholesome feels. Great for picnics by the water (however, dogs aren't permitted here), bush walks, mountain biking and a spot of water skiing, there’s no doubt your time here will be filled with all the best outdoors antics. There are four picnic areas at Manly Dam, which include a range of settings so whether you’re keen for grassy surrounds, lakeside eats or bushland BBQs, you’ll be covered.
We’re not going to lie, find a car park around Bronte Park is near impossible on a solid summer’s day but there’s a damn good reason why this beauty gets packed out before the crack of dawn. Perfect for beachside BBQs, sheltered seating, green space for all the frisbee, footy kicking and general frolicking, Bronte Park is an Eastern Suburbs foolproof gem for parties, picnics and lazing about.
Wrapping around the South headlands, overlooking the ocean and cliffs that line it, Christison Park is a stunning spot for your morning walk. It’s the size of a few football fields complete with goalposts and the dogs absolutely love it here. The recently renovated exercise equipment is a great, free solution for your summer workout, and one that your furry friend can come along to. Hit up the Grumpy Baker Cafe on arrival, to pick up a pastry and delicious coffee. Then walk down to Watsons Bay or along the coastal cliff walk for more stunning ocean views.
You could actually get lost in sprawling Centennial Park and it’s hands down one of the most beautiful green enclosures in Sydney. Taking up a casual 189 hectares of wide-open space, this park is a natural escape from the urban jungle surrounding it. She’s an epicentre of biodiversity, wetlands, curated gardens and guaranteed stunning vistas whichever way you look. And it’ll come as no shock that this one is the perfect spot for a picnic, rollerblade, cycle or even horse ride. There’s also a new French medieval labyrinth to solve and WILD PLAY garden made up of banksia tunnels, bamboo forests and the parkland’s first treehouse.
Sir Joseph Banks Park
There aren’t many boxes the Sir Jospeh Banks Park doesn’t tick which is why it classifies as one of the best green spaces to get around in Sydney. Dotted in fresh gardens, sports fields, picnic areas, a maze, jogging paths and cycle paths, duck ponds and a basketball half-court (near the Hayden Place entrance), this absolute cracker embodies all the serenity you’re after.
Oatley Park is truly iconic (you might also remember it as Peakhurst Park back in the day) and is known for its river beaches along the Georges River. Taking up around 45 hectares, this park has everything you need for the perfect day out with ovals, swimming enclosures, a pier to relax on, a wall garden, lookouts, the Draculas Canteen (a large rock overhanging rock) and, to really top it all off, an actual old castle to explore.
Sydney Park is easily one of the best parks in Sydney for so many reasons, but despite how great it is, it’s still peppered with secret spots for beautiful picnics. Bordering the fringe of the city’, this green space is made up of 40 glorious hectares of lush grass, gardens, rolling hills, pathways, wetlands and off-leash dog spots. Creeks flow throughout the park and there’s a tonne of picturesque viewing decks to take advantage of too if you’re aiming to fit some zen time into your morning or afternoon walk. Best part? It’s smack-bang at the end of South King Street, meaning you can hit up one of Newtown’s great cafes, bars or pubs after your park time. We recommend Rolling Penny for a coffee and brunch, or the South King Rec Club rooftop beer garden for a few cold ones in the afternoon.
Glebe Foreshore Parks
This collection of Inner West greenery, namely, Jubilee Park, Wentworth Park and Bicentennial Park, form an idyllic stretch along the foreshore with stunning views of the Anzac Bridge offer a waterfront vista for Inner West residents. With sports fields and off-leash areas for dogs, there’s plenty on offer here. You can also head to the Tramsheds closeby to check out the markets before or after your visit.
Sydney Olympic Park
For ultra scenic parklands, prime BBQ spots, cycling and ponds, Bicentennial Park is your jam. This huge stretch of green has a plethora of boardwalks for you to work your way through mangroves, one hell of a delicious stop off (Cafe At Waterview) and it’s also home to the Treillage Tower—an absolute vantage point if you want to take in views of the wetlands, Homebush Bay and the city skyline.
Have more time? Here are all the road trips around NSW you should have done by now.
Image credit: Raul Popadineți