Room to Breathe

BY JAMIE FELDMAR · JUNE 20, 2017

Whether it’s a secluded beach or pocket park, savvy travelers know where to duck out for a breath of fresh air.

We all know the appeal of outdoor space, especially in the midst of a crowded city. But what to do when the place you’re escaping to is as crowded as the place you’ve just left? We asked some of our global insiders to reveal their favorite, off-the-beaten-path retreats around the world.

 

London

Simon de Pury, who’s been called “the Mick Jagger of art auctioneers,” makes full use of London’s many outdoor spaces. “You can escape the bustle of London by discovering the city’s many gardens and parks.” he says. “I normally feel totally charged up again after half an hour.” Case in point: Postman’s Park, tucked near St. Paul’s Cathedral and the London Stock Exchange. The park is lined with tablets honoring everyday citizens performing heroic acts, and serves as a lush, quiet escape from the crowded City of London.

Photo by @m_t_egea

Where to Stay

Bermuda

Singer/songwriter Heather Nova, who spent her formative years exploring the Caribbean on her family’s 40-foot sailboat, sings the praises of the Bermuda Railway Trail. The extensive hiking path opened in 1984 on the railbed of the long-shuttered Bermuda Railway, tracing 18 miles of the island’s gorgeous and varied scenery. Nova likes the section that runs through Paget and Warwick Parishes. “It goes through neighborhoods and farmers’ fields,” she says. “You feel like you’re seeing a slice of the real Bermuda.”

Photo by @asox

Where to Stay

Beijing

Fashion designer Alexander Wang loves the area around Houhai Lake, in central Beijing. The area has a wealth of outside activities, including walks the lake and visits to the stunning 13th-century Drum and Bell Towers. Once used to tell time, they housed one large drum and 24 small ones beaten at regular intervals. Today, only the large drum remains, beaten every half-hour. In the winter, when the lake freezes over, Beijingers rent skates and practice their axles and lutzes.

Photo by @bmuller

Where to Stay

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Renowned tenor John Bills spends half of each year in San Miguel de Allende, where he serves as the artistic director of the Opera de San Miguel. He calls the iconic El Jardín Principal the heartbeat of the city, especially on busy weekend afternoons. But there are a few hidden-gem parks in and around San Miguel. Check out the no-frills La Gruta hot springs, a private park outside of town that’s popular with locals. There, you can swim between pristine turquoise grottos and get a natural “massage” from gushing water in the pools.

Photo by @somos4enruta

Where to Stay

Abu Dhabi

For an antidote to the glass and steel of the city, local artist Julia Ibbini recommends the Al Khatim Desert, about an hour’s drive from the city. “There are some lovely open areas with rolling dunes and ghaf trees,” she says. “I go with family and friends during the winter months to camp, or as a day trip to picnic or barbecue. It can get very hot there, even during the winter, so I recommend going during the cooler afternoon.” You can explore the otherworldly landscape on your own, or hire a guide for a desert safari.

Where to Stay

New York City

Fort Washington Park under the ​George Washington ​Bridge ​is one of my favorite places to hang out before or after a long bike ride,” says chef Hillary Sterling of NoHo hotspot Vic’s. Located along the Hudson River in Upper Manhattan, the park “has ​everything you need: ​benches for a picnic​, an awesome little red lighthouse, and lots of open space. The best part is that you feel like you’ve escaped from the city.”

Photo by @thurststux

Where to Stay

Dallas

Southern Living editor-at-large and Dallas native Kimberly Schlegel Whitman recommends The Katy Trail, a beautifully landscaped path for walkers, bikers and skaters that runs 3.5 miles  through the residential neighborhoods of Uptown and Oak Lawn. It follows the route of the historic Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, also known as the MKT, or The Katy, which ran through the city from the 1860s until the 1980s. “It’s a great place to go for a walk or a run in the early morning,” says Schlegel Whitman.
Photo by @catherinedownes

Where to Stay

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Uncover our musings on travel, art, fashion, and culture from the legendary personalities who embody the spirit of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts.