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Where would you go to escape the city’s concrete jungle, chaotic vibe and distracting noise? The quickest and closest retreat is a park.

Must-see public gardens, green squares, grounds and commons create a small heaven on earth in densely populated areas. Some cities take pride in the designs of their urban parks, converting them into year-round recreational hotspots.

They have botanical gardens where you can see spring glowers, lakes, ice skating rinks, running trails, baseball fields, picnic and sunbathing areas, to name a few.

If that’s not enough, there are scientific reasons to visit parks. Spending time there is one of the best ways to cope better with stress, feel happier and have more self-esteem, according to research. Other studies have shown that walking in green spaces can put the brain in a state of meditation.

What makes an urban park different from a state or national park is not just size (see which national parks you should visit in the spring). A huge green space perfect for summer concerts doesn’t necessarily make it better than smaller parks that offer swimming, running, majestic skyline views or zoos with giant pandas.