INCHEON -- As the cherry blossom petals fall from the trees, dancing to the rhythm of the gentle breeze, spring is now in full swing.
Although the colder-than-expected temperatures have had people holding on to their winter coats, there are many who, eager to greet the new season, are wandering outside in search of fun.
This year's cherry blossom season was much too short, especially in the Seoul area, and many are looking to enjoy leisurely quality time and spring fun.
Songdo Central Park and Solchan Park, located in Incheon’s newly-developed Songdo district, offer the perfect refuge, with colorful flowers, pine trees and picturesque views.
Songdo Central Park
Just 20 minutes from Incheon Airport and some 30 kilometers from Seoul, Songdo Central Park is a place where tradition and modernity coexist.
A two to three-minute walk from Central Park Station on Incheon Subway Line 1, visitors can easily spot the Incheon Urban History Museum -- a trapezoid-shaped building -- which signals one of the four entrances to the park.
Songdo Central Park is divided into three different sections.
The west side of the park embodies the harmony of modernity and tradition with the Tribowl -- home to international events, performances and exhibitions -- and hanok-themed hotels and pavilions. The east side offers opportunities to enjoy nature in different ways, including walking trails covered with flowers, a watermill near the pavilion and a deer garden.
The paved roads allow cyclists to tour around the park, while the spacious walking paths allow visitors to enjoy a calm, relaxing stroll without worrying about the bicycles.
The man-made lake at the center of the park can be enjoyed on five different types of boats, including kayaks and paddle boards. There is also the option of a water taxi.
Taking one of the water transportation options is highly recommended at night as visitors will be surrounded by the gleaming lights of the high-rises, nearby lanterns and colorful LED lights from the boats.
While Songdo Central Park offers a quiet atmosphere for visitors, Solchan Park is the perfect place for taking in the panoramic views of the West Sea with a seemingly endless horizon.
The 1.3-square-kilometer park, which was originally a construction site for the Incheon Bridge, is a place for those who want to feel the salty sea breeze. It is also home to many seagulls.
The straight trail is covered with a wooden deck and three-person benches are placed every five steps along the walking path.
The wooden swings bring smiles to the faces of children and adults alike as they enjoy a moment of peace looking out over the stunning ocean view.
Don’t mind the seagulls, who don't seem to mind the humans. They cry, walk, rest, fix their feathers and fly away, oblivious of the people walking about.
If you are hungry, you can eat ramen at an unmanned convenience store, where you can cook it in a foil container.
Visitors can enjoy coffee and tea at a nearby cafe, surrounded by unique mail boxes covered with interesting caricatures.
If the wind proves too strong, take a step back to the winding walking trail next to the wooden path and enjoy strolling along the pine tree-lined road.
The following article is the second in a series introducing destinations for eco-friendly travel experiences in South Korea. -- Ed.