Living in a city has its absolute perks. But beyond the accessibility and unlimited opportunities, the vibrant culture, and vast architecture, there comes a time when us city dwellers need an escape, especially as end of the year festivities begin to fill our calendars. All over the world, urban city centers are infused with green spaces but sometimes nature outside of the city is what we crave. Wherever you roam, never become too busy to disconnect. There’s a chance your refuge is a simple quest, growing right next door.
Bali – Menjangan Island
This gorgeous paradise (donned ‘Deer Island’) is home to an incredibly diverse ecology and has become a mecca for divers and land adventurers alike. Just off the northwest coast of Bali, you can reach this marine reserve via motorboat or by road. Whether diving or snorkeling, it’s worth dedicating an entire day to explore the colorful reefs. There are several secluded beaches tucked along this coastline, where you can escape crowds and settle into the sound of nature.
London – Avebury
Just 75 miles east of London is the historic site of Avebury, a break from the city that is more than just a way to turn-off. This kind of escape stimulates wonder. These ancient rock formations were constructed more than 5,000 years ago, and nods to
the advanced skills required to create other mysterious sites, such as age-old temples and the like. The placement of these giant monuments are scattered for miles across rolling greenery, giving you a full sense of being within nature’s energy and the imaginative ways that man harnessed it.
Los Angeles – Shrine Lake
If you crave real space outside of Los Angeles, there is no other place to explore than Shrine Lake. The name simply says it all. Rushing waterfalls, lush gardens, hillsides and lotus archways, this 10-acre serene environment is said to invigorate your soul.Pathways and alcoves are carved out in the gardens, allowing you to explore not just around, but also through the grounds. If you have a meditation practice, this space will feel like your sanctuary. If you don’t have a practice, you might just start one here.
Madrid – Retiro Park
Madrid’s poetic side shines through this park, named the ‘Green Lungs of the City’. Retiro Park embodies lightness among a city of aging stone. Botanical gardens elegantly fill the park. Popular activities include rowing on the lake, touring historical sculptures, and exploring several exotic plant collections, housed in dream-like glass pavilions. It is even home to the oldest tree in Madrid, a 400-year-old cypress. In a city with magnificent man-made architecture, here you are witness to the historic architecture of Mother Nature.
Miami – A.D. Barnes Park
There is no denying that the beach is a beautiful contrast to a typical city. But sometimes we desire something a bit lusher. And so there is the road to A.D. Barnes Park. This native landscape is wildly overgrown, cradling carved out trails that let you explore deep inside this jungle-like scene. The 65-acres of terrain transports you away, far from any hints of metropolis life. The park even caters to those with disabilities, truly making this an escape for all.
New York – Storm King Art Center
Storm King is an outdoor playground for the imagination. The garden is home to over 100 art sculptures from renowned artists, such as Alexander Calder, Mark di Suvero, and Isamu Noguchi. Only one hour north of New York City, this open-air museum sits on 500 acres of rolling hills and woodlands. The grounds are just as intriguing as the artwork itself. The landscape lends itself as a curated backdrop to the art, sometimes with overgrown native species dominating the space, acting as an additional layer of explorative canvases.
San Francisco – Half Moon Bay
Less than 30 miles south of San Francisco, this waterfront community boasts a cool, Mediterranean climate. It is most known for a large man-made jetty, popular to surfers, with breaks that allow you to explore far past the coastline and into the depths of the bay. Streams trickle back from the bay into the forested hills, an incredible backdrop to the water scenery. If you need a deeper escape from an already nature friendly city, you don’t need to look much further than the enclave that is Half Moon Bay.