Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA
It doesn't get much more L.A. than Griffith Park: The 4,310-acre wildland offers dreamy views of the city skyline, yet it unfolds across rugged canyons and chaparral-laced peaks including Mount Lee, home of the HOLLYWOOD sign. The park also contains the famous Griffith Observatory and the Greek Theatre, where Elton John, Carlos Santana, and countless other icons have performed under the stars. —R.B.
Washington Park, Portland, OR
Tucked in the forested hills west of downtown, Washington Park is a perfect microcosm of Portland: wild, yet refined. The zoo has slender-snouted crocodiles paddling in the aviary pond, and the MAX station is carved into ancient bedrock. Meanwhile, the International Rose Test Garden is immaculate, a nirvana that overflows each summer with blooms in shades of white, yellow, and magenta. —R.B.
Papago Park, Phoenix, AZ
Saguaros, mesquite trees, and massive sandstone buttes set a striking backdrop for hiking and mountain biking in this 1,500-acre oasis. Along with the showstoppers (Phoenix Zoo and Desert Botanical Garden), you'll find surprises such as the Hall of Flame Fire Museum. Here, horse-drawn water wagons, smoke-jumper displays, and photos of heroes honor those who battle blazes big and small. —R.B.