Best Of 2011

Best Public Park: Carondelet Park

Carondelet Park was born as a bribe. In the 1870s, the only way politicians could sell skeptical south-city taxpayers on the creation of Forest Park was to sweeten the deal: Sure, Forest Park will be far away, officials conceded. But how would you like 180 acres of your own green space? They were sold, and to this day, they clearly don't regret it. The 1.6-mile loop that skirts the park's perimeter under a lush green canopy is always dotted with joggers and strollers. Athletes have seven ball fields, five tennis courts and ten horseshoe pits to choose from. Anglers can catch trout in the winter and smallmouth bass during summer in one of the park's two lakes. Weddings abound in warm weather, as do concerts and festivals (such as the big Bosnian Festival every September). On Tuesday nights, road cycling circuit races zip through. On Sundays, teenage fans of all things medieval bludgeon each other with padded weapons. But there are also plenty of shady spots to lay in the grass and nap. Your predecessors demanded it. Now you can enjoy it.

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