UPDATED APR 20, 2020
“Green” spaces in the desert? Actually, Phoenix has no shortage of local parks that make for a great place to go for a run, get in a workout, or kick back with a good book while basking in the desert sun. We've put together our favorite parks and green spaces in Phoenix.
Papago Park is a great open space for anyone looking to get active in the Valley of the Sun. Easily spotted for the buttes of the same name, the park features trails for hikers, mountain bikers, and runners. The buttes themselves are also climbable, which serve as an awesome spot to catch the sun setting behind the urban skyline to the west. This spot is also near the Phoenix Zoo and the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden, so you’ll have some additional post-workout options if you want to stay outside a bit longer while enjoying some fun attractions.
Tempe Town Lake is a popular spot for people in the Valley because there are so many things to do there. From cycling and running on the paved pathways around the water (they are lit at night — we’re actually talking about lights), to paddleboarding and kayaking on the lake, this tends to be the go-to spot for fit-minded, outdoor-inspired people during weeknights and weekends alike. The main access points of the lake are nestled between Papago Park and Arizona State University, so there tends to be a decent amount of Sun Devils roaming the banks when school is in session. Given its location near the university, you can easily walk over to a variety of restaurants and cafes when you’ve had enough of your workout or want to get a bite to eat after taking in one of those unmatched Phoenix sunsets.
This family-friendly park once grabbed a spot on Forbes Magazine’s list of “America’s Best City Parks” for good reason. Centrally located just north of downtown Phoenix, this is a nice open space to get moving within the reaches of the big city. Its dedicated sports complex features tennis, handball, racquetball, and volleyball courts, so you’ll have your options to choose from if you come here. Fitt Tip: You’ll need a recreation pass to use the Sports Complex, but they are quite cheap!
While not a single, stand-alone park like the others on this list, the Greenbelt in Scottsdale is still a phenomenal way to get outdoors. This paved path spans north to south for 20-plus miles just east of the Phoenix city limits. Beginning at East Shea Boulevard between North 90th and North 92nd Streets and ending at Tempe Lake, you can hop on your bike or lace up the running shoes and enjoy long, uninterrupted exercise in Scottsdale. There are several other parks along its route (like Chaparral Park), as well as points to access stores for any food/hydration needs.
This park isn’t too big, but it’s full of lush green grass (yes, really!) as it is tucked away in the Phoenix suburb of Arcadia — known for its lawns and not the desert hardscape most other residential areas feature. Whether your thing is yoga, sprints, or an outdoor HIIT workout, this is a solid choice for you if you want to keep it simple and avoid crowds.
Granada Park is a small but beautiful green space complete with bike paths, a soccer fields, a lake, and an awesome view of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. Like several other parks on this list, this park is in the middle of a relatively quiet residential area that usually isn’t too crowded. Depending on the time of day/time of year, you might even be the only one in the park.
This park is perfect for those who prefer calisthenics — pull-ups, push-ups, etc. Just off the 51 freeway and Glendale Avenue, this slice of grass sits inside a quiet residential community on a large cul-de-sac. Complete with pull-up bars, dip bars, and various benches and ledges for other bodyweight workouts, you can get a great sweat here with a clear view of Piestewa/Squaw Peak to the east. And while its location is easy to get to, it’s rarely crowded. Better yet, there’s an incredible Mexican restaurant across the street, Aunt Chilada’s, ready to answer your post-workout taco cravings.
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