There are more than 300 parks and gardens across the state of Lagos, and the city continues to get greener.

Lagos holds its annual Tree Planting Day on July 14 each year as part of a bigger plan to build a greener city. Companies are adopting roundabouts to turn them into cute green spaces, and botanical gardens are appearing in public schools.  

If you’re keen to explore a slice of the eco-riches of Lagos, here is a list of the parks popular with Lagosians.   

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Visit nature's classroom: LUFASI Nature Park

The Lagos Urban Forestry and Animal Shelter Initiative (LUFASI) feels like a combination of nature's classroom and a dozen different parks in one. Removed from the everyday bustle of the Lekki-Epe highway, every step you take in this 25-hectare (62-acre) patch of mangrove vegetation is a tutorial in all things environmental.

While exploring the calm setting, you’ll find quotes scattered throughout that promote the healing powers of nature. Brief descriptions identify different species of trees and their popular local uses.

Animal rights activists will appreciate the park’s growing collection of rescued monkeys, donkeys and horses, which enjoy professional veterinary care. There’s birdsong all around, punctuated by geese honking and ducks quacking. Try forest bathing by the rare Iron Redwood (Ekki) tree, unwind on the badminton and basketball courts or play table tennis while the kids occupy themselves on the playground.

Head to the Lekki Conservation Center to see Africa's longest canopy walkway © Dumbra / Shutterstock

Wave to monkeys at the Lekki Conservation Centre

The Lekki Conservation Centre is one of Lagos’ ecotourism hotspots. Established in 1990, it covers 78 hectares (about 193 acres) of wetland, mangrove forest and savannah vegetation. Lagosians troop to it – mostly on weekends – mainly for its 401-meter-long (1315ft) canopy walkway. 

Each of the six towers of the canopy walkway offers unrivaled views of the forest cover. The trails and canopy walkway lead to the Family Park section, where visitors can order drinks and barbecues, picnic or chill in any of the multiple gazebos. Kids will get a kick out of feeding the fish, and you’ll find tilapia and koi ponds here.

The Mona monkeys are the park’s most famous wildlife and will literally wave to you as you head out on the boardwalks. Some of the other thrills here: the east trail has a crocodile lookout, a bird hideout and swamp views; and the west trail offers a chance to climb up to a treehouse, some 20m (65 feet) above the ground.  

The 10 best things to do in and around Lagos

Have a picnic in Muri Okunola Park

If you dropped in at the Muri Okunola Park (Victoria Island) on a Saturday, chances are that you’ll meet a group of work buddies hanging out, picnicking on their patch of green ground; or celebrants marking their birthdays with friends and family, feasting and dancing through it all. 

Elsewhere on the premises, a bamboo bar serves shakes, smoothies and a variety of drinks, while keeping its patrons moving to a playlist of contemporary Afrobeats.

It’s one of a few parks in the city with a small books collection, although it’s almost always locked up. Wherever you choose to sit in the park, you’ll not miss the 40-foot fiber-glass monument, Ma’ami, celebrating motherhood. Another installation of the Eyo masquerade, made from discarded aluminum, hangs further away on the southern wall.   

Freedom Park
Constructed to preserve the history and cultural heritage of Nigerians, Freedom Park is a memorial and leisure park area in the middle of downtown Lagos © Fela Sanu / Getty Images

Spend an evening at Freedom Park

A hundred years ago, this facility was a prison run by the colonial government; over the past decade – with the design genius of local architects – it’s been transformed into a pleasant park. 

Rest on park benches thoughtfully planted amidst the garden trees, or take a stroll on walkways crisscrossing the grounds to discover different sections of the park: fountain, ponds, an amphitheater, food court and gallery blocks.

On weekdays, you’ll find Lagosians here sitting out the evening rush-hour traffic over drinks and live music, or attending the artistic programs which the park is also known to host, including concerts, exhibitions, craft fairs, book readings and theater shows.  

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Spend some family time in Johnson Jakande Tinubu Park

The Johnson Jakande Tinubu (JJT) Park in the Central Business District of Alausa boasts a mini-waterfall, fountain, children's play area, a love nest, multiple gazebos and a lush lawn fit for picnics. It’s also the public face of the drive to make Lagos greener.

The Lagos State House of Assembly complex adjoins the park. There, you’ll find three statues representing former governors of the city, in whose honor the park was built.

On busy days, the park hosts fairs and book hangouts. And while here, you’re just a stroll away from the Lagos parliament building and the state secretariat. The governor’s office (appointments only) is also within the vicinity and is decorated with a concrete-and-metal 60-foot EcoTree, a symbol of the beauty and synergy of technology and the arts. 

Have a picnic and a history lesson at Jaekel House Garden

Fancy having a picnic backdropped by a 124-year-old colonial-era mansion? If so, then plan it for the Jaekel House gardens in the Ebute Metta area of the city. Tucked inside the old railway compound, you can take a guided tour of the mini-museum inside to get a glimpse of Nigeria’s railway history and the critical role played by the Nigeria Railway Corporation pre- and post-independence.

Lagos National Arts Theatre
If you're headed to the Lagos National Arts Theatre, take some time to enjoy the beautifully landscaped grounds surrounding the building  © HorploadWorks Photography / 500px

Check out the National Theatre lawn, then enjoy a bite to eat

The National Theatre, built to host the 2nd World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) in 1977, is one of the top architectural gems in Lagos. Beyond its eye-catching exterior, the shade trees and lawns encircling it have served Lagosians as picnic spots for decades. 

A $100m renovation is underway to turn the complex into a creative and entertainment center; and by the end of 2022, visitors should be able to reach it using the surface light rail.

Sightseers may want to take a break in any of a number of bars and restaurants situated in a part of the premises popularly called "Abe Igi" for an assortment of food and drinks. 

For swimming, games and even a zoo, head to Shodex Garden

Shodex Gardens is a horticulturists’ delight, packed with a diverse collection of plants. With careful labeling of the different species, you’ll come away from the experience more knowledgeable about the flora on display.

It’s a fine spot to have an afternoon drink if you don’t mind the sound of vehicles speeding to and fro on the ever-busy Ikorodu Road. 

One of the most family-friendly spaces around, its play area, swimming pool, game arcade and sculpture garden are a hit with children. There’s a modest zoo popular with students on excursions. The garden is busiest on weekends (and it opens for longer hours too), when adults pack into the bar, snack on small chops and enjoy a musical treat from the in-house DJ. 

Green thumbs won't want to miss RF Gardens

Be warned: If you don't care about plants, RF Gardens will likely convert you. Situated in the serene Ikoyi area, almost every inch of it is covered in plants and flowers, nicely cultivated in pots and vases of different shapes, colors and sizes. There’s a thrilling variety to enjoy and, if you’re inspired, indoors you’ll find lots of garden supplies and accessories.

Visitors could easily spend a whole day at this family business, complete with a cafe and an indoor bar and grill station. 

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