At Culdesac, we love a good parklet! And not just because it’s National Parking Day. Parklets are public seating and gathering areas that convert curbside parking into shared spaces for leisure and activity. Reclaiming public space? Check. Areas to sit and gather with friends, human and furry? Check. Fun art installations and public amenities? Check. Plants and decor? Check. Not to mention that parklets serve many evidence-backed and low-cost community benefits, such as boosting local business and pedestrian traffic. When it comes to the parklets popping up around the US, we can’t get enough. In fact, it’s one of our favorite things to check out when we travel around the country. Get to know a few of the parklets we’ve been crushing on lately, including our own.

1. Culdesac HQ Parklet – Tempe, AZ

Source: Culdesac

We couldn’t help but start with what’s right outside our very own front door. At Culdesac Tempe HQ, we transformed the 4 parking spots outside our office into a public gathering space open to everyone. Need a place to sit? Take your pick from lounging in our Adirondack chairs and hammock to getting a break from the sun under the umbrellas at our picnic tables. Need a moment to play? Build a castle out of our enormous legos. Need a breather? Borrow books from our very own Little Free Library. Not to mention we have ample bike and scooter parking just outside our front door, right next to a multipurpose bike/pedestrian path. We also have lots of green astroturf if you  need to ground yourself literally, not just figuratively. It’s not a coincidence that many of the Culdefam like to take meetings and meals outside at our parklet. Come stop by!

2. San Jose Guerrero Park - San Francisco, CA

Source: Groundplay

Given we owe much of the parklet renaissance to San Francisco, we were inspired to pick one of the city’s many parklet gems. We personally can’t wait to visit San Jose Guerrero Park, “a pedestrian haven at the intersection of Guerrero Street and San Jose Avenue.” Once an intersection known for dangerous speeding cars, the cross-section has been transformed into a comfortable place for neighborhood residents to relax, gather, and more. Here you’ll find fun fiberglass planters full of multicolored drought-resistant plants juxtaposed against a playful ground mural that reimagines pavement. Tended by the local community and volunteers, the park is a partnership between the parklet pioneer Groundplay, SF Planning, Climate Action Now!, and others.

3. Matt’s Big Breakfast – Phoenix, AZ

Source: Cheryl Evans/The Republic

Here in the Valley of the Sun, you’re never far from goodies on either side of the Salt River. We love to take the Valley Metro from downtown Tempe to Matt’s Big Breakfast in Phoenix. Beloved for its sumptuous breakfasts, we also love Matt’s Big Breakfast for its role in helping pilot parklets in Phoenix in 2014. The city created the charming parklet outside Matt’s Big Breakfast using a few parallel parking spots as a powerful demonstration project to show how reclaiming underutilized space benefits residents and small local businesses. The owners have mentioned they are "grateful" for the project and, in particular, appreciate how the seating area serves a rush of customers. So whether you want a place to wait and decide if you’re going to order the Salami Scramble or The Big Papa Burrito, or you just want a spot on a cute bench underneath a desert-conducive tree to chat with a friend after strolling First Street, the parklet at Matt’s Big Breakfast has you covered.

4. Hugs Cafe Parklet – Downtown McKinney, TX

Source: Better Block

Some of the most exciting parklets coming onto the national scene can be found in Texas. No coincidence – the groundbreaking urban design non-profit Better Block is headquartered in Dallas. Though they partner with cities around the world, they often are hard at work helping transform the DFW area. Recently they partnered with Downtown McKinney, a cute town just outside of Dallas, to design and build modular parklets. In 3 weeks, Better Block designed and built platforms, benches, and planters and brought them to McKinney to test out. They’re pros with user design and experience, ensuring the platforms had leveling systems that allowed for height adjustment and stormwater to pass through. One of the recipients of these parklets was Hugs Cafe, a social enterprise restaurant in Downtown McKinney that employs adults with special needs. Thanks to the new parklet, Hugs Cafe has doubled its space. Next time you’re in the DFW area, take a breather from Dallas’s bright lights, order a Salted Caramel Brownie, and take a load off.

5. Heritage Bikes and Coffee People Spot – Chicago, IL

Source: Google Maps

You know we love bikes. Want to know what makes bikes even better? Coffee. Look no further than Heritage Bikes and Coffee in Chicago. This OG bike cafe brings the best of both worlds together in a shop featuring coffee and handmade bikes built in Chicago. After trying out a masterfully crafted bike, you can bring your coffee outside to their "People Spot" – aka what the Windy City charmingly calls their parklets. Heritage’s People Spot was one of the first parklets in Chicago to help champion reimagining on-street parking “as places to ‘park’ people instead of cars.” Like other cities around the country, studies found that People Spots across Chicago were great for local business AND residents and visitors alike. We can’t wait to visit Heritage Bikes and Coffee and chill in their rad People Spot – complete with not just picnic benches and heaters but an old forest green van with a bike perched on top as the pièce de résistance.

6. NoMad Piazza – New York City, NY

Source: Flatiron NoMad

Last but certainly not least, we had to feature a parklet – or “Street Seats” as they call them in the city that never sleeps – from a metro that has helped lead the pack to bring parklets to the people around the US. The NoMad Piazza in the Flatiron District is the perfect parklet for foodies, fashionistas, and art lovers. Right by Madison Square Park, this parklet smack dab in the middle of Manhattan is the ideal place to eat some of the best food the city has to offer in between perusing galleries and boutiques. Here you’ll find colorful and comfortable public seating, tables, planters, and striking granite blocks that establish the pedestrian intersection and area. First tested as a pop-up, a public survey found that 89% of respondents “love the Piazza and want it to return permanently.” It came back for good due to overwhelming public support and is now one of the many jewels in NYC’s Open Streets program. In the words of James Mettam, Executive Director of the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership, NoMad Piazza provides a living “model for how our city’s streets can be reimagined as vibrant public spaces for walking, cycling, dining, and relaxing.” We couldn’t agree more!

So whether you want to visit parklets, people spots, and street seats in all 50 states, build your own parklet in your community, or participate in National Parking Day, we encourage you to get out there and enjoy. There’s so much life outside our front doors – Come explore with us!