Hardwood Acres GardensOh, how do I love thee Pittsburgh City Parks? Let me count the ways. Nope, not doin' that. That’s not how I’m gonna begin this blogarama about the awesome parks in Pittsburgh.

How's about this…

A few years back, sitting at my desk here at VisitPITTSBURGH's Communications Department, I received a call from a reporter at USA Today asking me if I knew what two things Pittsburgh had more of than any other city in the country. Upon learning that the answers were: bars (No. 1 in nation) and pizza shops (No. 2), my candid reaction to the reporter was: "I thought you were going to say churches and trees."

You might think I was out in left field with my response. But nonono.

Check this: One Pittsburgh-area neighborhood—Wilkinsburg—had a super high concentration of churches and, at some points historically, was said to be known as "The Holy City."

And then there's this: National Geographic looked at "Nine Cities that Love Their Trees" and determined that Pittsburgh boasts a 42 percent tree cover, compared to Portland's 30 percent and Philadelphia's scant 20 percent. Take that, Porlandelphia!

In no uncertain terms, a large part of our brag-worthy tree canopy here comes from the emerald green parks that make Pittsburgh one jewel of a city. Indeed, when the industry barons of yesteryear gave land to the city to make parks for our people; and, these Pittsburgh City Parks were a true gift to the people and the environment. This urban forest is said to remove some 500+ tons of air pollution every year.

Cliffside Park Hill DistrictNo wonder people hug trees. And it's just one—of many reasons why I love Pittsburgh City Parks.

I love that in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood, they tore up a paved parking lot and put up a paradise with the lovely name of Schenley Plaza—carousel, green lawn, ornamental gardens and all.

I love that Schenley Park is home to the beautifully restored Schenley Park Cafe and Visitor Center (where my husband, aka Sports Boy, and I got hitched). And I also love that Schenley Park is the place for the nation's largest vintage race event—and the only run on actual city streets. Jaguar may be the marque car for the 2016 Vintage Grand Prix, but I'm thinking this year's honoree auto should be "Little Red Corvette" with a touch of purple. Just sayin'.

I love that one of Pittsburgh's city parks, the aptly named Cliffside Park in the Hill District, was renamed last month to August Wilson Park in celebration of the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright. I can't wait to see the art installations onsite of August Wilson quotes and large-scale photographic installation of images by renowned Pittsburgh photographer Teenie Harris.

Lake Elizabeth at North Side's Allegheny Commons Park

I love that the park that author Annie Dillard wrote about exploring as a kid in "An American Childhood" - Frick Park - is going to be a classroom for the next generation, with its new Frick Environmental Center. When it opens this year, the center will be one of the world's greenest buildings and one that is free and open to the public. Let me repeat: Free and open to the public. Doesn't get much cooler than that...oh, except for the Center's geothermal heating and cooling system, which will fully support its own needs for water and energy. Oh, making Annie Dillard (not to mention Rachel Carson) oh so proud! 

I love that little "fairy doors" can supposedly be found at Frick Park. (More on this later, but it must be true, as I found this on Facebook.)

I love the stately entrance into Highland Park, with its beautiful gardens and graceful fountains. And I love that you can walk around the lovely Reservoir Loop, totally forgetting that you're even exercising.

Yes, I lovelovelove Pittsburgh's City Parks. All 2,781 acres of 'em!

Pittsburgh has miles of trails!For a full list of Pittsburgh Parks check out the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy website.