The Hidden Side of Cities


The next time you're looking for an arts escape, or a good burger, why not try a park? They're the new urban hangout

VANCOUVER, B. C

Art in open spaces

1 The surprise here is the life-size Digitai Orca sculpture breaching vertically from the Jack Poole Plaza, a .trtanguU&sltoe on. the waterffoM And no, the whale isn't fuzzy; it's pixelated into lego-tike blocks. Also òn the plaza is the Olympic cauldron - where the flame burned during last year's Winter Games - now on display permanently. North end of Tfiuriow St.; S66/785-S232. -DEANA LANCASTER

2 SAN FRANCISCO

Lessons in gardening

Plunked down on what used to be a freeway off- ramp, Hayes Valley Farm is the urban equivalent of the back-to-the-earth experience you used to have to drive to. Just a block from a strip of boutiques, city farmers are growing kale, snap peas, and beets. Drop by to learn composting or take a yoga class, freeyoga; soil classes from $25; 450 Laguna St.; hayesvalley farm.com -JOHANNA SILVER

3 DENVER

High-design farmlandia

The gold dome of the Colorado State Capitol makes for a classic photo op - except for one thing: the chard, basil, and tomatoes now growing in Civic Center Park where there were once ubiquitous petunias. Grow Local Colorado and Denver Parks Si Ree teamed up to tend these highly designed plots of edibles and donate the harvest. Broadway at Colfax Ave.; denvergov.org/parks -j.s.

4 PHOENIX

Art. movies, and music alfresco

Potholed parking lots and shabby warehouses had to make way for Civic Space Park, a 3-acre green gem set among office buildings, Arizona State University's downtown campus, and a light-rail stop. Time your visit for freebies: yoga classes (8 a.m. Sat), movies (Apr 22), and concerts (Apri, 15). Or wander the art gallery in the park's 1926 A.E. England building, once a car dealership. At night, the netlike sculpture floating overhead, fountain to splash in, and tall, cylindrical light sticks all have an otherworldly glow. N. Central Ave. at Polk St.; phoenix, gov/parks -NORA BURBA TRULSSON

5 SEATTLE

A city safari

The amphitheater-shaped bowl cut into a steep hillside at Thomas C. Wales Park is no accident - this was once a gravel pit. Now, it's dominated by the Quarry Rings sculpture, five rock-filled doughnuts perched in midair. Peer closer to spy nesting boxes for songbirds and slots to house bats. 2401 Sixth Ave. N.; seattle.gov/parks -REBEKAH DENN

6 PORTLAND

A Euro-style plaza

Before its completion last summer, Director Park was a parking lot. Now, it's a European-style piazza, a square-block expanse of honeyhued granite, a bosque of yellowwood trees, a burbling fountain, sculpted benches, and a 1,000-square-foot glass canopy that hovers far above, shielding the downtown lunch crowd from April showers. …

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