Visitors to Bath could easily be excused for not being aware of this great city's public green spaces. After all, the Roman Baths, the Abbey, the Jane Austen and many other museums, and the Georgian architecture are probably what initially spring to mind - oh, and the hot spring of course!
But Bath's public parks and gardens are wonderful in their own right with dazzling plant, bedding and topiary displays, with places for children to play and dogs to run, and for the architectural features they often include, both as backdrops and as integral features of the parks.
Bath's Royal Victoria Park covers around 57 acres! It was dedicated to the young Queen Victoria in 1829 and was one of the earliest created public parks in England. Nowadays, the botanical garden, children's play area, boat pond, aviary, sports facilities, bandstand and seasonal hot air balloon provide both visitors and residents with some truly exceptional green spaces and facilities. The park's backdrop of the Royal Crescent - a super example of Georgian construction and elegance and its best - lends a welcome grandeur to the surroundings.
These delightful gardens are where you'll find some of Bath's most delightful plant-art! There's a small, token charge for entry for visitors to Bath (residents get in free) but it is well worth it to view the exceptional standard of some of the bedding displays, to take a seat on a stripy deckchair and while the day away, and to perhaps catch a concert at the bandstand or see a children's entertainer. There's a cafe on site, and the central location of these lovely and well-maintained gardens ensure their continuing popularity.
Prior Park Landscape garden, situated on Ralph Allen Drive, and cared for by the National Trust, was created by Mr Allen himself in the eighteenth century. With Palladian Bridge, Serpentine Lake glorious woodland paths and spectacular views, the National Trust does charge non-members for access to the Garden, but a trip here would be well worth the entry price.
Alexandra Park, off Shakespeare Avenue, is another very popular Bath park, situated atop Beechen Cliff, and allowing the visitor some fabulous views of the city and surrounding countrysite. Perhaps not as easily accessible as some of the city's other parks, nevertheless it is a different type of experience - being more woodland-based, and orientated around play areas and floral displays.
Henrietta Park, the Georgian Garden, Hedgemead Park and Sydney Gardens are also situated in the centre of Bath and attract visitors for sunbathing, plant appreciation and light exercise. Or try the beazer Maze park for a fun paved puzzle maze.
And if the mood takes you, why not travel out of the city's confines to one of Somerset's other green facilities? A good example is the Avon Valley Country Park at Keynsham (near Bristol), which is full of family fun, kids' activities (both indoors and outdoors) and even a pretty long junior assault course!