Ed Levin County Park, Milpitas – Ed Levin County Park is a surprising spot of natural beauty in developed Milpitas. Ed Levin County Park has become a favorite spot for dog owners in the county to take their mutts to meet and mingle…it even has a few regulars.

With more than 1,500 acres of rolling hills, the park offers opportunities for picnicking and places for the kids to play, wand also an extensive system of trails. There’s even fishing available ina a small but sweet lake.

Expansive lawns lead to rolling grasslands and oak-studded hillsides, leading to Monument Peak, which offers a spectacular view down the valley or up the Bay toward San Francisco and Oakland.

Central Park, Fremont – over 450 acres, plus an 83-acre lake, Fremont’s Central Park is just about as jam-packed with diversions as that other Central Park you’re probably thinking of. With boating, a skate park, a golf course, community center, a whopping 18 tennis courts, and an on-call catering staff, you’ll never have to leave.

Serra Park, Sunnyvale – A stream (that always seems to be dyed a really scary shade of blue-green) rambles through the grounds at Serra Park, giving the whole place a relaxing, bucolic feel. Serra Park is also great for moms and dads, featuring a playground that is the stuff of legend among elementary schoolers.

Lake Cunningham Park, San Jose – Lake Cunningham is where East-Siders go to BBQ, hike, and fish. Lake Cunningham Park is also home to Raging Waters, a fact that, to be honest, tipped the scales in its favor when compiling this list. Some may call that cheating, we call front of the line on the Great White!

Blackberry Farm, Cupertino – Chances are, if you grew up here, one of your parents had a company picnic at Blackberry Farm. It’s incredible that this place is still considered simply a ‘park’ when it more closely resembles a summer camp: Blackberry Farm includes a pool, a hiking trail, tons of picnic and barbecue areas, and a golf course that’s supposed to be the best around for beginners.

The San Jose Municipal Rose Garden, San Jose – The San Jose Municipal Rose Garden is such an icon of West San Jose that the neighborhood that surrounds it is now known simply as ‘The Rose Garden’. The Rose Garden makes this list by popular demand, with many voters stipulating that you visit during April or May when everything’s in bloom to get the full effect.

Vasona Park, Los Gatos – The perfect spot for birthday parties, reunions, or spontaneous weekend adventures, Vasona’s got it all: lots and lots of lawn, lakes, picnic areas, roaming wildlife, and a playground with a real, actual, decommissioned jet (that’s always scalding hot to the touch on sunny days around noon, be careful!). Add the carousel and the train and you’ve got a park that’s the envy of all others.

Las Palmas Park, Sunnyvale – This funky little park is a throwback to the heady days of Tiki-ana, when the world went wild for bamboo and grass skirts. Las Palmas has standard city park fixtures like a dog run and a playground, but the secret to its superiority is a palm-filled island in the middle of sparkling lake that’s available for rental.  So if, for your birthday, you decide you’d like to own an island (even for a little while), now’s your chance.

Plaza de Cesar Chavez, San Jose – Plaza de Cesar Chavez is a little patch of green that runs through the heart of downtown San Jose, just a hop, skip and a VTA ride from our offices. Plaza de Cesar Chavez remains pretty no-frills, but its relatively flat surface is what makes it ideal for hosting community events like Music in the Park throughout the year. The Plaza is also home to ground-level fountains that fill up with kids and less-inhibited adults around August, and the Quetzalcoatl statue, the handiest landmark in the entire downtown area (run a Google image search and you’ll understand why).

Almaden-Quicksilver County Park, San Jose – We admit, we give this park a lot of love, but it’s only because we think it’s really cool that dotted throughout its landscape are the ruins of an old mining operation; some of the shafts, structures, and equipment have been sitting silent in the park for over 100 years. Taking a hike through this extensive park can make you feel like you’re Indiana Jones stumbling upon the ruins of a long-gone civilization.