Monday, October 3, 2016

Bike Church

This is probably the smallest pocket park on this blog (so far). It's the Bike Church, built to honor bicyclists — mostly ones killed in traffic accidents.

Only a few people can fit inside. (If you feel like kneeling, there's nowhere except on the floor…)

The photos above are from 2010. Since then, the church is now on a concrete pad with other park-like features around it. Here's the area on September 28th. A path from the north side:

A little garden, bike rack, bench, an an area covered with brick:

Now the church is sitting on a platform instead of on the ground. Here's the view from the entrance:

This shows a bicycle along the wall with shadows from sun shining through the stained glass:

Location: North of downtown on Granada, just south of the railroad tracks.

Parking: A parking lot behind the church or along Davis Street.

Hours: There are a couple of streetlights in the area, but you'll probably want to come while it's sunny so you can see the stained glass.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Desert Sanctuary at Immanuel Presbyterian Church

David Aber told me about this spot — on the east side of town, near 22nd & Harrison. It's almost three acres (350 x 350 feet) of desert environment with dirt paths, benches, foot bridge, ramada, fire pit, maze/labyrinth, and a multi-sided column with messages in several languages. He visits often because it's a great place for wildflowers. But he also points out that the only shade is under the ramada, and there's no water. David sent these photos to give you a good idea of the place.

Here's the column and some benches for contemplation:

David wrote that it “has two words on the side that I photographed — Dodolimdag and Vrede. Dodolimdag is Pima/Tohono O’odham meaning peace. Vrede is Dutch, also meaning peace. Presumably, the other sides also have words meaning peace.”

Views of the rest of the parklet:

Thanks so much, David!

Location: Southeast of the church buildings and parking lot. Directly south of Saguaro Eastside Medical Group at 9302 E. 22nd. Here's a Google satellite view.

Parking: You can use the church parking lot, though it might be polite to leave spaces for churchgoers during services and other events. (The church website is During weekends, you can also use the Saguaro Eastside Medical Group, then walk south into the parklet; there's easy access to the trails from there.

Hours: Always open, but no light at night… and, as David points out, desert critters (like rattlesnakes) may be visiting at night, too. (Still: Walking a labyrinth under the full moon can be magical — especially on a warm summer evening.)

Monday, July 4, 2016

A pocket park in your complex

As I've mentioned before, your neighborhood can set up a parklet to bring neighbors together… or just sit yourself… at almost no cost, with much benefit.

Here's a photo of a little spot at a friend's apartment complex that sits next to a former dumpster pad. It used to be desolate; now it's a pleasure:

Monday, June 6, 2016

Pima County Extension

The Rillito River has paths for biking and walking (and horseback riding and…) along most of both its sides in the Tucson area. Though there are benches and shady spots, a special spot is southeast of the junction with Campbell Avenue: the gardens (and more) at Pima County Extension:

Pose as farmers or veggies (I added the red arrows)... though I'm not sure if selfie sticks work here:

You'll find benches and picnic tables among the gardens:

Last but not least, there's a tile mural near the entrance. Click there to see it on the Tucson Murals Project blog. I took the photos during one of the twice-monthly Saturday morning tours May 14th.

You can read more about the gardens, and one of the Saturday tours, in the Arizona Daily Star article Tucson's hidden glorious gardens are open to all.

Location: Entrance is east of Campbell, across the street from the Trader Joe's parking lost.

Parking: Limited. The parking lot for the Rillito River trail is nearby. You might try the parking lot at the shopping center's parking lot — or walk along the river from one of the other spots.

Hours:The office is open 7:30-4:30 weekdays. After 5pm the gate to the parking lot may be closed, and you can park in the Rillito lot… but it may not be safe (there have been break-ins). The office (and parking lot) are are also open some Saturday meetings.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Alfonsa McKenna-Luis Redondo Park

Though the solid fences and walls around this parklet may look a bit forbidding, they actually make it a safe place to bring kids — or your whole family:

David Aber (who also contributes to the Tucson Murals Project blog) visited on December 28th. He wrote “It’s the nicest pocket park that I’ve seen. It has a basketball court, a playground and a covered picnic area with charcoal grills.”

This plaque along 5th Avenue, next to the park entrance, tells a bit of the story:

These photos are by David Aber. The park walls are lined with murals, inside and out; you can see them on today's McKenna Park entry on the Tucson Murals Project blog.

Thanks, David!

Location: 2020 S. 5th Avenue (more accurately: Just north of the alley, west of 5th Avenue between South 30th & 31st Streets)

Hours: When the gate is unlocked. At night, there are lights along 5th Avenue, inside the park, and along the alley south of the park.

Parking: Street parking along 5th Avenue and 30th Street.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Sit a while at 36th & Kino

Here's a little spot that's not worth a long drive to reach. But if you're visiting the (soon-to-be) UA Tech Park at The Bridges, or you want a place to take a break on a bicycle ride, this bench surrounded by desert plants might be just what you're looking for:

Walk south a minute or two and you'll be at a series of tile murals. (Click there to see them on the Tucson Murals Project blog.) Across the street, behind the library, is the larger Quincie Douglas Park.)

We're still short on new pocket parks. I'll keep looking! And please feel free to suggest one.

Location: Southwest corner of 36th Street & Kino Parkway

Hours: 24 hours

Parking: Across 36th, next to Quincie Douglas library.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Your own parklet

Like pocket parks? Why not get together with your neighbors — or your neighborhood association — and make a special spot? It can be more than a place to relax… it can bring neighbors together.

A bench like this one is a good start. One neighborhood has a simple group of outdoor chairs on the “traffic-calming” circle in an intersection of their quiet streets.

If you make a parklet in your neighborhood, please let me know about it (if you'd like to spread the word, that is). You can reach me through the comment form.

By the way, there's a little tile mural at the south end of Tucson Boulevard — a very short walk away. Click there to see it on the Tucson Murals Project blog. Also check out the beautiful garden-covered mailbox at 1521 Bristol Avenue (on the Tucson Mailbox Art blog).

Location: Southeast corner of Tucson Blvd. and Warwick Vista, one block south of 22nd Street.

Hours: Daytimes

Parking: Street parking.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Hunting for parklets

I didn't come across any new small parks during December, so I don't have any to post here for January. I've done some searching online and found a few places to check out. If you know of a pocket park that isn't on this list — which is open to the public without payment — I'd be glad to pass your tips on to other readers. You can reach me through the comment form.

See you next month!