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Best Parks in New York

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An emerald expanse in the thriving, concrete jungle that is New York City, Central Park lies in the heartland of the Manhattan borough. It commences its labyrinthine stretch from Midtown, all the way to Harlem. It was created in 1857 by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who envisioned a sprawling green space in the center of the island. The park spans 843 acres (341.15 hectares) and bustles with life throughout the day, even as the layered, multi-hued fold of the city's skyline unfolds at its hem. The park's 21 playgrounds are speckled with ornate fountains, sculptures, myriad bridges and arches, together forming an urbane respite where several come to find peace from the city's chaotic pace. Attractions within the park include the Bethesda Fountain, the Conservatory Garden, Belvedere Castle, and Central Park Zoo.

Located in Washington Heights, Fort Tryon Park and its 67 acres (27.11 hectares) of land are home to some of the best views in The Bronx, as well as a number of other worthy tourist attractions. Featuring one of the highest points in the city, Fort Tryon Park offers stunning views of the Hudson River, George Washington Bridge, and other magnificent vistas. Highlights of the park include the Alpine Garden and Heather Garden, as well as the full-service restaurant, New Leaf Cafe. Perhaps the most popular attraction of the park is The Cloisters, the medieval branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The park also contains two playgrounds and a gazebo, and visitors are welcome to picnic, run, or ride bikes through the park.

Offering a much-needed green environment to the urban headaches before you reach Midtown, Madison Square Park is a lush green patch at the beginning of the Flatiron District. All through the year, the park plays host to various cultural events, exhibitions and concerts, all of which are attended in large numbers. Throughout the park, visitors will find a burst of color within its well-manicured flower gardens. Tiny tots and four-legged friends will also have lots to do at Jemmy's Dog Run and the playground. Another perfect addition to the park is the original Shake Shack, the beloved burger place; it can't be missed.

This small but beautiful botanic garden features a Japanese garden, as well as the Cranford Rose Garden, herb garden, the Children's Garden, and the Steinhard Conservatory of indoor flowers and plants. In all, there are 52 acres and 12,000 varieties of botanicals, ranging from the tiny bonsai to the towering oak. Self-guided tours, individual classes and certificate programs are all available. Students come with your valid id cards, if you want to avail of a discount.

Covering 250 acres (101 hectares), the New York Botanical Garden is a blend of rocks, waterfalls, hills, rivers, woods, ponds, plants, and of course, flowers. The property is beautiful and a National Landmark and includes an interactive area for children. The restored Enid A. Haupt Conservatory is a Victorian-era greenhouse. Don't forget to visit the Shop in the Garden - a store which offers a wide range of goods, from books and garden products to jewelry and body products. Admission prices are higher during peak season, so check the website for details. For those interested in fresh fruits and vegetables, the garden hosts a farmer's market from June through November each year.

The High Line is an urban oasis filled with beautifully manicured landscapes. It sits above the city on old train tracks that were installed as part of the West Side Improvement Project back in 1929. The line was primarily used to transport goods along the Lower West Side, but with the advent of vehicles in the 1950s and more accessible routes elsewhere, the last train eventually ran in 1980. Thereafter, the elevated tracks fell into disrepair, and the whole structure was nearly demolished. It was instead converted into an innovative public park, delighting locals and visitors alike. Today, the High Line is a cherished sanctuary away from the bustle of city life.

Brooklyn Bridge Park is an 85-acre stretch of green space that lies between two of New York's greatest landmarks: the bustling Manhattan Bridge and the gorgeous Brooklyn Bridge. There are stunning views of the New York Harbor, the glittering Manhattan skyline and the beautiful Brooklyn Heights Promenade. Pier 1 of Brooklyn Bridge Park opened in the spring of 2010 and has been one of the most frequented tourist spots ever since. A plethora of parks, piers and waterfront attractions are in the vicinity. The sheer beauty of the place makes it worth a visit!

Hudson River Park is a huge open space stretching from Pier 97 to Battery Park City, replete with grassy expanses, paths, and fields. You can fish, swim, relax, run and walk your dogs in the designated areas, or just enjoy refreshments or sit and read a book. This is the perfect place to spend your day with your family, or to enjoy a little walk or jog after work to relax.

New Yorkers love this small park in the heart of Midtown. With its French benches, colorful flower gardens, green lawn and numerous cultural events, Bryant Park is a peaceful place to take a moment to watch the world go by. Named after poet William Cullen Bryant, the site of this historic park has played an important role in New York City. After being officially designated a public park, the site's fortunes rose and fell with the times. A brilliant restoration in the 1990s transformed the space into the beautiful midtown oasis it is today. The park's March hours vary throughout the month, so be sure to check the website before visiting.

Rich in history, Fort Greene Park’s beginnings emerged in the form of Fort Putnam, which is today located within the park. In 1812, the fort was christened in the name of Major General Nathanael Greene and since there was not any actual worry of conflict or a war at the time, the fort was used by the locals as a recreational space. In the park, there is also a famous memorial, the Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument, which honors the lives of thousands of Americans who died as a result of imprisonment aboard a ship by the British. A visit to this park gives all its visitors a broader perspective of the history of the city and its residents. The hugely-popular Brooklyn Flea on Saturdays is right across the park.

Touted to be one of the largest parks in town, Pelham Bay Park is certainly worth a visit. Spread across a vast area of 2766 acres (1119 hectares), this park is a spacious stretch of greenery. Bounded by the Hutchinson River, Pelham Bay Park features a variety of landmarks that include The Bronx Victory Column & Memorial Grove, Glover's Rock, Bartow-Pell Mansion and Museum and more. Apart from that, there is also the Orchard Beach. The park also has sports facilities like running/walking trails, tennis courts, baseball fields, a softball area and a playground for kids. While the little ones are busy having fun, adults can enjoy a BBQ picnic here. Truly, Pelham Bay Park is an ideal place for a fun day out. For the list of events and nature walks held here, check website.

Zuccotti Park occupies a special place in New York's history. The epicenter of the Occupy Wall Street movement that swept political discourse in 2011, this humble square has been cleared of the protest signs and tents, once more becoming a sleepy little location at the tip of Manhattan. Two sculptures add a little color to the mostly gray park, Mark di Suvero's Joie de Vivre contributing a splash of orange across from a bronze businessman statue which reclines on a bench. A tiny square dense with history, Zuccotti Park has become one of New York's most recent landmarks.

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