Jardínes del Turia, Valencia
Concierge.com's insider take:
After a devastating flood in 1957, city authorities decided to divert the Turia River south of the city. The original riverbed, which traces a curving course around the historic center, was turned into a 4.5-mile-long park. Valencianos come here to walk, jog, cycle, or just picnic under the acacia, maple, and orange trees. Along the way there are playgrounds; sports fields for soccer, rugby, baseball, and pétanque; and several overpass bridges. The most notable bridges are the Puente Serranos, which dates back to 1518, and Santiago Calatrava's contemporary Puente de la Exposicion, nicknamed La Peineta because of its resemblance to the iconic hair comb traditionally worn by Spanish women. Kids will love the huge Gulliver play area—a reclining giant whose body is covered with slides and climbing frames. The city's small but charming zoo is, as of spring 2007, moving from its home in the Jardínes to the Parque Cabecera—the most recently landscaped part of the former riverbed, west of the center. To be renamed the Valencia Bioparc, the new zoo will be one of the biggest in Europe; opening is scheduled for fall 2007 (www.zoovalencia.com).