Ghana’s capital city, Accra, is a sprawling labyrinth of concrete structures, with just enough room for greenery. Trees are constantly being destroyed to pave way for their concrete cousins, turning the city into a literal concrete jungle. This concrete jungle is a collection of office spaces, residential facilities, restaurants, shopping plazas, recreational and entertainment centres and other types of real estate.
In a city that averages between 25°C and 30°C, this leaves little in the way of cooling, resulting in an over-reliance on air conditioners and thus increasing energy costs. It also leaves little in the way of natural escapes for the city’s residents. An oasis where they can find calm, enjoy the outdoors and comfortably bask in the warmth of the sun.
Luckily, there are a few spaces scattered across the city that offer a connection to nature, provide some cooling and offer a number of engaging activities to boot. These are spaces where nature lovers can frequent without travelling to the countryside, playgrounds where families can enjoy themselves and generally, safe spaces where people can escape the sometimes gnarly claws of urbanisation.
Awesome Recreational Parks and Gardens in Accra
1. Legon Botanical Gardens and Playground
The Legon Botanical Gardens and Playground is the most popular outdoor recreational space in the city. Love you an adventure that doesn’t require travelling outside Accra? Legon Botanical Gardens and Playground has a range of activities that have you covered. Go hiking through the open woodlands, discovering new species of vegetation along the way. If you’re a bird watcher, the garden is home to several birds that will satisfy your avian curiosity.
Plant your feet on the canopy walk and conquer your acrophobia (extreme or irrational fear of heights) or take on the rope courses for the ultimate endurance test. Wind down by the lake or hop in a canoe and cruise around the tiny peninsulas home to different birds like cattle egrets and monitor lizards. Legon Botanical Gardens and Playground is a fresh retreat from the chaos of the city.
2. Mmofra Place
Mmofra Place is the quintessential children’s park in Accra. It is the most child-friendly outdoor space in the city and is what the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park should have and could have been. It was established by Efua Sutherland’s Mmofra Foundation, an organisation that promotes cultural awareness and learning for children outside the classroom.
The park – and playground – is rich with facilities and activities such as swings, slides, sandboxes and storytelling sessions that enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of children. Mmofra Park is a place of learning, colour and fun. It is vibrant as it is calm, intimate and yet open, with lots of room and shade to set you at ease. Mmofra Park is an eco-friendly children’s paradise!
“Mmofra”, which is Akan Twi for children, is the vision of Efua Sutherland and Wilis Bell, and for all intents and purposes, where children and culture connect.
3. Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park & Mausoleum
The Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park is a soothing green space in the heart of Accra. It houses an iconic mausoleum, the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, built in honour of Ghana’s founding father, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. The mausoleum houses Nkrumah’s remains. The park surrounding the mausoleum features manicured lawns, colourful shrubs, a beautiful and symbolic water fountain that lights up at night, several bronze statues and a lot of trees. You might also catch a glimpse of the shy peacocks that often wander around.
History buffs would fall in love with this park twice thanks to the on-site museum which showcases a number of Nkrumah’s personal effects including the smock he wore while declaring Ghana’s independence, vintage furniture, copies of personal correspondence as well as the car Ghana’s first president was chauffeured in.
The Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park is a great getaway from the city where you can connect with nature and Nkrumah’s rich legacy.
4. Efua Sutherland Children’s Park
The Efua Sutherland Children’s Park is a well known recreational centre in the heart of Accra. It sits on an enormous expanse of green, surrounded by some of Ghana’s tallest buildings, the National Theatre and the 5-star Kempinski Hotel. The park was named after Ghanaian playwright and children’s author and advocate, Efua Theodora Sutherland.
Despite failing to be a place of fun and learning for children as originally intended due to considerable neglect, the park adequately serves as a relaxing space where you can cool off and reflect. There are several benches scattered across the space and lawns with sufficient shade for family picnics, dates or just time alone with a book or your thoughts.
5. Rufus Green Parks
Rufus Green Parks is a hidden paradise in Ashiyie, off the Dodowa Road. It sits on 20 acres of lush green and tranquillity. If you love the great outdoors and board games, Rufus Green Parks is a dream come true. The centre features giant life-sized board games like chess, ludo and mills, as well as regular sized board games like scrabble, monopoly and oware. There’s also a hopscotch area and playground where kids can channel their abundant energy.
Bird lovers and fauna enthusiasts will have a blast exploring and learning about plants and birds. Rufus also features the highly rated Cayenne Restaurant to fill up bellies. Rufus Green Parks is a breath of fresh air for nature lovers in Accra.
6. Lakeside Marina Park
Lakeside Marina Park is a recreational park located around Lake Kalmoni that is located just outside Community One of Lakeside Estate residential development. It is a hidden gem that offers a number of leisure activities right in Accra.
At Lakeside Marina Park, revellers can zipline across the park, play a few rounds of mini-golf, go horse riding, splash down a free fall slide, cruise around the lake or even fish in it! The park also features a children’s playground complete with swings and walkways for rollerblading or even skateboarding.
Love to smell the roses or just savour the colour of flowers? Lakeside Marina Park boasts a resplendent flower garden and lawn where you can soak in the smells and sights of nature.
Other Recreational Parks and Gardens in Ghana
Aburi Botanical Gardens (Aburi)
When it comes to green spaces in Ghana, Aburi Botanical Gardens is usually the first to spring to mind. Located in Aburi, about 32km from Accra, the botanical garden is a fantastic destination for cooling off and communing with nature.
It features an extensive collection of exotic and local plants and some of the oldest documented trees in the region. As a botanical garden dedicated to the preservation of plant species, the gardens offer the perfect opportunity to learn about the history of botany in Ghana. There are guided tours in the garden but visitors can explore on their own. The vast lawns at the garden are especially great for family picnics or reading. Avian enthusiasts will get a kick out of the many birds and butterflies that frequent the garden.
Rattray Park (Kumasi)
Rattray Park is a recreational and amusement park in Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti Region. It boasts an artificial lake and a “dancing” water fountain that lights up beautifully at night. It also features a children’s playground, an outdoor gym and paved walkways with golf carts to drive people around. Rattray Park is a breath of fresh air on the Kumasi recreational scene.
Despite there being only a handful of green, recreational spaces in Accra (and Ghana for that matter), there’s hope on the horizon. A number of upcoming developments such as Cantonments City by Goldkey Properties and Appolonia have marketed recreational centres as part of their selling points. These developments, once completed, will increase the number of recreational spaces within the city and in effect, improve the general well being of residents.