Maybe you haven’t figured out yet how you’re going to squeeze a vacation into your busy schedule this year, or maybe you’ve just temporarily forgotten there’s a great big world outside the office door. Either way, consider grabbing a few hours of R&R at one of these Haute 5 green spaces across the Valley. Because even city sophisticates need a breath of fresh air now and again.
Ro Ho En Japanese Friendship Garden
The three-and-a-half-acre Ro Ho En is a symbol of friendship between the sister cities of Phoenix and Himeji, Japan. Featuring more than 50 plant varieties, a 12-foot waterfall, flowing streams and a beautiful Koi pond, the garden is a space of tranquility within the busy city center. A highlight of Ro Ho En is the tea house, where visitors can witness firsthand the ancient art of Chanoyu – the Japanese tea ceremony. The garden participates in the “first Fridays” art walk events in Downtown Phoenix, and it can also be reserved for special events, such as weddings. Ro Ho En closes for the months of June, July, August, and September due to the heat, and re-opens each year in October. Its last open day for the 2009-2010 season is May 30.
Ro Ho En is located at 1125 N. Third Avenue in Phoenix (602) 256-3204
Civic Space Park
The Civic Space Park opened in April 2009, outfitted with a number of sustainable design concepts and techniques in order to generate power, capture rain water, and more. And just as spectacular to behold as it is functional, the park is hard to miss, with its larger-than-life, tornado-like sculpture by artist Janet Echelman. There are plenty of grassy areas, a small shaded stage, a water pad, and the historic A.E. England Building, which houses the Fair Trade Cafe as well as an art gallery. At night, the park is brilliantly lit and comes to life during evening events.
Civic Space Park is located at 424 N. Central Avenue in Phoenix
Civic Center Mall
Tucked behind Old Town Scottsdale and sandwiched among the Civic Center Library, Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, SMOCA, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, and City Hall lies the lush mall area. Providing city dwellers and visitors with more than 21 acres of outdoor park and event space, the Civic Center Mall is home to a number of statues, fountains, a lagoon, an outdoor amphitheater, and a lovely rose garden called the Marshall Garden. Such high-profile events as the Scottsdale Culinary Festival are held here each year, as well as private weddings and other ceremonies. Be sure to visit the famous “Love” statue, designed by Robert Indiana.
Civic Center Mall is located at 3839 N. Drinkwater Blvd. in Scottsdale
Tempe Beach Park
In and around the Tempe Town Lake area is the beach park. You’ll find no shortage of activities at this location: Park-goers may engage in strolling, boating and paddle-boating, jogging, exploring the Loma del Rio ruins, biking, equestrian activities, fishing, volleyball, picnicking, and more. The SRP Tempe Town Lake Marina provides easy water access for boats, and there are multiple public restrooms and water fountains located throughout the park.
Tempe Beach Park is located at 54 W. Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe
Steele Indian School Park
With its 30-acre “Phoenix Green,” Steele Indian School plays host to a number of major city events throughout the year. There’s plenty of shade to go around, as well as five picnic ramadas, and a two-and-a-half-acre, bird-shaped lake, on the edge of which is situated a magnificent outdoor amphitheater with a 1,500-person capacity. Additional features include a dog park, playground, basketball half-courts, sand volleyball courts, and Memorial Hall. Other sites you shouldn’t miss are the American Indian Veterans Memorial Site, the Circle of Life and water cistern, and the historic Phoenix Indian School buildings.
Steele Indian School Park is located at 300 E. Indian School Road in Phoenix