Best Parks and Gardens in Manchester

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Tree with sun behind it in the middle of a green park
Zhaoli JIN

Manchester is more well known for its industrial warehouses and canal network than it is for its green open spaces. But take a closer look and the city’s got some fabulous parkland peppered throughout the city which are easily accessible.

Heaton Park

green park with a monument at the top of the hill

Sheepfoot Ln, Manchester M25 0DL

Heaton Park is one of the great 18th Century Parks located North of the city centre between Prestwich and Middleton. It was once owned by two families and then sold to the Manchester Corporation at the beginning of the 20th Century for just over £200,000.

It’s a large park that contains over 9 historical buildings, monuments as well as a golf course, garden centre, reservoir, and several boating lakes. Also nestled in the heart of Heaton Park is Treetop Trek Manchester complete with bouncy nets and Treetop Nets all suspended in the woodland. The Western Pleasure Grounds are well worth a visit and include a flower garden, woodland and shrubberies with a meandering path through the Dell towards the kitchen garden - now the Horticulture Centre.

If you don’t fancy packing a picnic, there are four cafes to choose from and the Stables café serves a nice line in craft coffees, breakfast and lunch.

There’s a line-up of special events running across the year, including the very popular Parklife music festival and you can check out more details here

The park’s open every day from dush till 8pm

Mayfield Park

Green park with people walking
Mayfield Park

Boardman Gate Entrance, Mayfield Park, Baring Street, Manchester M1 2PY

Whilst Heaton Park maybe one of the oldest parks in Manchester, Mayfield Park is the newest and the first park to open in Manchester for 100 years. Rightly so, it opened to much fanfare last year and is enjoyed by people who live and work in Manchester city centre. The parkland isn’t huge, but it’s been well designed with 142 trees, 120,000 shrubs and plants, and a wetland to encourage biodiversity. There’s also a great kids’ play zone with 6 slides. The park is woven around one of Manchester’s founding rivers – the River Medlock - and bat and bird boxes are encouraging wildlife to return to the city.

Escape to Freight Island sits next door to the park and has a great array of food and drink options on offer all year round.

The park is open every day from dawn until dusk and you can check out the line-up of events here

Alexandra Park

boys playing cricket in park
michael weir

180 Russell St, Manchester M16 7JL

Alexandra Park is one of Manchester’s earliest-built intact Victorian Parks and is listed as English Heritage.  The 60-acre park recently underwent a £5 million pound renovation to improve the facilities, footpaths, public loos, gardens and new community café.  The park’s six-acre space has a wealth of activities on offer for the local community and its visitors. There’s established trees, a cricket pitch, football pitch, floodlit tennis courts and a fishing lake. There are also two play areas - one for toddlers and one for older kids - together with renovated Victorian gardens with flowering plants and shrubs.

There’s a full line-up of weekly events to get involved in, including many health and wellbeing activities such as cycle training, tennis coaching, Sunday yoga, Junior Parkrun and a summer cricket calendar. Multiple community workshops for Manchester Day, Caribbean Carnival and Alexandra Park Celebration Day are also well attended.

Sale Water Park

2 open water swimmers in wet suits and caps

Rifle Rd, Sale M33 2LX

Sale Water Park is a large man-made lake located to the south of Manchester city centre in the town of Sale. It’s a popular spot if you fancy a stroll, cycle, run or dog walk in the parkland.  The lake itself is well used and offers a wide range of water sports for those experienced or if you just want to try out a new activity. There are taster sessions for paddle boarding (SUP), kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing or sailing or you can develop your paddling skills further through its British Canoeing and RYA Courses.  Got a boat or a jet ski? The lake is big enough and you can check out how you can book a launch here. Open water swimming has become very popular at the lake and is well managed. You can read more here.

Not a water baby?  There’s a ton of land-based activities such as walking, running, team building, fishing, orienteering, and fitness clubs to choose from.  Or you can simply take a picnic and find a spare bit of grass. There’s also an on-site restaurant, The Boat House, which serves lunch and dinner daily.

For more information, visit the website or call the Trafford Water Sports Centre on 01782 722226.

Sackville gardens

Bronze Alan Turing memorial sitting on a park bench

Whitworth St, Sackville St, Manchester M1 3WA

Also known as Whitworth Gardens, this park is in Manchester’s city centre nestled between Whitworth Street, Sackville Street and Canal Street.  It’s a pretty spot complete with walks, lawns, flower beds and significant scupltures .  It’s famous for the Alan Turing memorial statue – the ‘father of modern computing’ – who sits on a bench in the park. Apparently, the sculptor buried his own Amstrad computer under the statue to pay tribute to Turing.  Sackville Gardens also contains the Beacon of Hope, the UK’s only permanent memorial for people living with AIDS and lives lost to it. It was constructed over 20 years ago and community groups recently refurbished it. On World AIDS Day a candlelight vigil generally takes place at the Beacon. The National Transgender Memorial was unveiled in the park in 2013 - it has a tumultuous existence, first being vandalised and then set on fire and damaged, but there are plans for a new monument.

Fletcher Moss Park and Parsonage Gardens

Large tropical green plants and trees in garden

Stenner Lane, Didsbury, M20 2RQ

Fletcher Moss Park is located in the cool South Manchester suburb of Didsbury.  This is a well-loved space in the area which has a loyal community group - The Friends of Fletcher Moss Park and Parsonage Gardens. The group actively ensure the park’s upkeep together with Manchester Council and look after the horticulture. Both sites have won numerous awards from the Royal Horticultural Society and Fields in Trust, including the RHS Neighbourhood Gold Medal Winner and Outstanding Contribution to North West in Bloom, and aim to be the most sustainable parks in Manchester. The Croft in the Park was home to Emily Williamson, co-founder of the RSPB, and the large Rockery was started by her husband Robert - with alpine plants collected by them in the mountains of Europe. This was once a Botanical Garden, so you can expect to see many interesting and rare trees and plants across the park. You can read more about the park’s nature here

The park also boasts tennis courts, a church, pergola garden, and a very popular outdoor café.

You can check out the busy event’s calendar here

Tatton Park

large stately home and gardens
Tatton Park

Knutsford, Cheshire WA16 6QN

Tatton Park is a large historic estate located in the heart of Cheshire. The estate spans over 1,000 acres of parkland, featuring an elegant mansion, 50 acres of beautiful gardens, a working farm, and much more.  It’s perfect for a Sunday stroll, a picnic or dog walk. Whether you're a history enthusiast, nature lover, or simply looking for a fun day out with the family, the estate has something for everyone. They also run a packed line-up of over 100 events and activities throughout the year including the Classic and Performance Car Show, DogFest, music concerts, RHS Flower Show and much more. The full list of annual events can be viewed here.

You can buy your tickets here or at the gate

Lyme Park

Large trees in a woodland and wooden gate

Disley, Stockport SK12 2NR

Nestled on the edge of the Peak District, Lyme was once home to the Legh family and a great sporting estate in its day. It’s a large 1,400 acre estate and, with its medieval herd of red deer, offers fantastic walks and stunning views of the surrounding countryside. It’s expansive and contains rugged moors, ancient woodland and follies. There are also formal gardens to explore - the elegant Rose Garden, Ravine Garden and the luxurious herbaceous borders where a certain Mr Darcy met Miss Bennet in the BBC production of 'Pride and Prejudice'. The six hundred year old house at Lyme is still open and you can explore its beautiful Regency features and fascinating collections. If you’re looking to entertain young children, the Crow Wood Play area is the perfect place for smaller adventurers to run, skip and slide.

The Timber Yard Cafe offers delicious hot and cold snacks, and a range of cakes whilst the Refreshment Kiosk in the car park offers grab-and-go drinks and ice creams.

You can check out opening times and prices here

Platt Fields Park

Large green trees and a path
Mike Benna

Fallowfield, Manchester M14 6LA

Platt Fields Park lies just to the south of Manchester city centre in Fallowfield.  It’s Victorian, one of Manchester’s largest parks, and packed full of things to do.  It boasts five-a-side football pitches, free tennis courts (which you can book here), a BMX track, basketball courts and a skatepark. We said it was good! There are also several Victorian features including a large lake, boathouse, market garden and pavilion.  The park has three dedicated show fields for large scale national, small scale and local events. The grounds also contain Platt Hall, home to Manchester's Costume Gallery, which is free and open to the public.

The park is open 24hrs a day.

Longford Park

children playing on climbing ropes
Gabriel Vasiliu

Ryebank Rd, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Stretford, Manchester M21 9TA

Longford Park, Trafford’s largest municipal park is located in Stretford and borders Chorlton cum Hardy on its Eastern side.  There’s a lot crammed into the park and there really is something to keep everyone entertained, from football and rugby pitches to bowling greens and two children’s play areas. There’s also a formal Japanese Garden, Wildlife Garden, Community Allotment and pet’s corner to keep little ones entertained.

Longford Café is a family café in the park which serves great coffee, cakes and homemade bread, brunch and other treats. There is limited parking at Longford Park so we recommend taking the tram to Stretford and walking or cycling from there.