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Green Spaces in the City Centre

1 May 2015
Green Spaces in the City Centre
Picnicking is one of the UK’s most enjoyable summer traditions, and is the perfect way to take advantage of the green spaces in your local area over the warmer months. Have you picked out your favourite green space in the city yet? Grab your picnic baskets and we’ll tell you where to go…

Parks and green spaces are the lungs of a city, something residents and visitors alike regard as vital. Such spaces are aplenty in the Leeds City Centre. We managed to locate a few along with some great nearby eateries to fill your picnic baskets:

1. Park Square

Hidden away in the heart of Leeds’ Financial and Legal quarter, Park Square is a beautifully landscaped garden with plenty of green space to relax. Colourfully vibrant with flowers in bloom, the space offers sufficient facilities to sit in the shade with a book or munch on your packed lunch; or simply lie back and catch the sun. First laid out in 1788, the traditional Georgian garden was originally bordered by high quality homes long replaced by office buildings, factories and warehouses around the mid-19th Century.

Getting there

Walk past Leeds Art Gallery, the Central Library on the Headrow. Turn left just as you pass the Town Hall on the Westgate and Park Square is on to your right after a two minute walk.

Nearby Eateries

Sesame – Pick up a delicious sandwich and drink or if you’re health conscious dig into their extensive salad bar.

Love Food – For delicious sandwiches, toasted panini and giant tortilla wraps and hot and cold drinks.

Carluccio’s – Your favourite Italian picnic menu could now be pre-ordered up to 24 hours in advance. Classic or vegetarian options are available with a special menu for little ones.

Philpotts – Grab yourself a freshly made sandwich, choose from their varying salads, drinks and treat yourself to cakes and sweet treats with the option of ordering online to collect later.

2. Merrion Street Gardens

Set adjacent to St John’s Church and sitting snugly at one of the busiest areas in the city, the Merrion Street Garden, also known as the Garden of Rest, is a neat space to take a break especially if you’re doing a bit of shopping in the vicinity or merely work nearby. Bordered by rows of large trees that offer plenty of shade, the green space is also frequented by flocks of pigeons. St John’s Church built in 1632-34 is the oldest church in Leeds and the surroundings certainly have the quality to transport you closer to serenity.

Getting there

Take the Merrion Street between the Merrion Centre and St John’s Centre on Woodhouse Lane and the garden is to your right as you pass the entrance to the St John’s Centre Car Park.

Nearby Eateries

The Arch Café – A delicious takeaway range of sandwiches and drinks which you can either choose when you call in or phone in your order to collect later.

Nash’s Fish & Chips – If you’re up for a delicious and hot fish and chips meal with a choice of sides.

3. Lovell Park

Situated further north of the Merrion St Gardens in the Northern Quarter of the Leeds city centre, Lovell Park is an expansive green space in a tranquil corner offering sufficient shade and greenery. An ideal place for a picnic or a little exercise, there is a decent row of cafes and restaurants on the North Street Border If you feel like a bite to eat while you’re lounging.

Getting there

Across from Leeds’ Arena, it sits between Lovell Park Road and North Street, or if you walk a few minutes’ north from the Grand Theatre and Opera House along North Street you will spot it on your left.

Nearby Eateries

The Greedy Pig – For sumptuous sandwiches. They even have a delicious vegetarian range.

Roots and Fruits – Vegetarian and vegan café ideal for falafels, salads and loads of other fresh imaginative choices.

4. Mandela Garden

Huddled right in the heart of the Millennium Square area, this spectacular little green space has been dedicated to the late Nelson Mandela, the first President of South Africa, in recognition of his struggle against apartheid. Remarkably laid out on a small space, the Mandela Garden includes a water feature that symbolically reflects Mandela’s prison cell bars and some beautiful African blooms.

Getting there

Located right next to the Electric Press (Carriage Works), this is right in the hub of the city and hard to miss.

Nearby Eateries

La Bottega Milanese – They have panini, Focaccia, pasta pots and, breads, patisserie and much more.

Brod Sandwich Bar – If you’re looking for a place to grab a sandwich, Brod serves up a huge choice of tasty fillings in a choice of breads.

5. Penny Pocket Park

If you’ve just stepped into Leeds from a coach and need some quiet space to catch your breath, or simply work in the area, Penny Pocket Park is an ideal place to find a bit of tranquillity within the city.

Getting there

Sits right between the Leeds Bus and Coach Station and Leeds’ Minster in the corner where York Street meets Duke Street.

Nearby Eateries

Café 164 – For a selection of sandwiches, cakes, coffee, tea, cold drinks or freshly baked ciabatta and focaccia bread.

6. Queen Square

Right in the middle of the city’s bustling shopping precinct this quiet spot is so well hidden that you may not have realised it existed. Surrounded by elegant terraced houses that now belong to the Leeds Beckett University this is a great spot for a touch of peace and quiet on a busy day.

Getting there

Across the road from Leeds Beckett University’s Rose Bowl, behind where Woodhouse Lane meets Clay Pit Lane.

Nearby Eateries

The Arch Café – A delicious takeaway range of sandwiches and drinks which you can either choose when you call in or phone in your order to collect later.

Wok & Go – Noodle boxes, rice boxes, sides, soups and salads - and even ice creams if you fancy.

7. Woodhouse Square

This little nook of a garden is quiet and shaded, ideal to catch some fresh air. Laid out in the 1830s Woodhouse Square was then surrounded by classy houses belonging to rich merchants and now replaced by office suites. There are also plenty of little cafes and restaurants around the area for a cup of tea or coffee or a spot of lunch.

Getting there

Just across from Leeds General Infirmary Just a two-minute stroll across from the Park Lane College on Clarendon Road and very hard to miss!

Nearby Eateries

Relish Food – Delicious homemade fresh sandwiches, hot and cold drinks and a range of sweet treats are available for you to pick from.

Café Centro – For hot and cold sandwiches, panini, cakes and pastries

Nom Deli – Vietnamese street food deli offering Bánh Mì baguettes, rice vermicelli salads and rice noodles of you fancy something different.

8. Whitehall Riverside

There is a quaint little footpath along the River Aire that runs behind the Whitehall Quay, right past Novotel Hotel, No 1 Whitehall Riverside and stretching further, offering you the perfect retreat away from all the bustle of the city. The breezy and panoramic stretch is hidden away, running parallel to the Whitehall Road, so that you may not have known it existed. Whether you want to sit on a bench and watch the silent waters, or rest your eyes on the verdant landscape that is beyond the river, or just experience a breath of fresh air and a bit of exercise, this is a perfect place, especially if you work around the area.

Getting there

Minutes away from the Leeds Station on Aire Street and then on Whitehall Road. You can get through to the footpath from Whitehall Quay entrance area.

Nearby Eateries

The Riverside – They have a range of speciality and simple sandwiches, wraps, burgers or salads.

Sociable Folk – Try their ‘Meet & Eat Boxes’ that come filled with a great selection of sandwiches, wraps, bagels and sides of their favourite 'slaw and corn relish, intended for meetings and get-togethers and perfect for picnics.

9. Woodhouse Moor Park

Then there is also the expansive Woodhouse Moor Park, approximately a mile from the city centre. Right in the midst of the Leeds University area, it is abundantly green and open; perfect for a picnic, a run or just some alone time to unwind.

Nearby Eateries

Oranaise – Enjoy North African cuisine or want to try something different? Go for their homemade pizzas, wraps and burgers. They also have a selection of cold drinks, smoothies and hot drinks.

Leeds is a vibrant city rich in culture and heritage. It has also recently been named one of the top five cities in the country to live, work and play. Live and work in Leeds already? Or in town for a visit? Don’t miss out on these parks, squares and green spaces while you are up and about this summer.

Kam is a Business Writer for Leeds Living. Having joined in April 2015 she writes for the Strictly Business section and specialises in business editorials.