Outdoors continue to remain first choice these days. This might come as a surprise to many of you, but the concrete jungle is home to hundreds of square miles of green space – 1,700 parks across the five boroughs to be precise, most of them only known by locals. But there are some parks particularly more famous than others, where New Yorkers and tourists gather for picnics, romantic dates, exercise, and other outdoor activities that we terribly missed in the past year, like movie screenings, concerts and food festivals. We’ve compiled a list of our 7 absolute favorite parks in NYC.
1. Central Park
We begin our list with the most famous park in NYC, and probably in the world. You can’t say you’ve been to New York without visiting Central Park!
This 843 acres of manmade oasis centrally located in the heart of Manhattan, is one of the first American parks to be designed using landscape architecture. Central Park was designed by the same urban visionaries who have worked on Prospect Park, (which has also made our list down below) – Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted. Landmarks of Central Park include the Conservatory Garden, Bethesda Terrace, the lake and The Loeb Boathouse, Belvedere Castle. Are you a culture lover? Then you must check out the Literary Walk and see the statues of literary giants including Shakespeare, Robert Burns, and Sir Walter Scott. And of course, you cannot miss NYC’s premiere cultural landmark and world-renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art.
2. Bryant Park
Inspired by French Classical style, Bryant Park is located behind the New York Public Library, (the reason why you’ll see many people holding books). A small but very lively park, boasting of real New Yorkers getting their coffee/ lunch breaks. Bryan Park is also a preferred spot for tourists due to its central location. The ice skating rink becomes a perfect picnic spot during the warm months, so if you’re feeling lazy, pick up a salad and a book or magazine from the library or from Bryant Park Reading Room and act like a New Yorker for a couple of hours. Do you miss the Monday night outdoor movies in the park as much as we do?
3. Hudson River Park
Take a walk along the west side of Manhattan, from the city’s most southern tip all the way to midtown, and you’ll find yourself in Hudson River Park. This estuarine landscape covers 550 acres of spectacular waterfront views. If you get tired of so much water and natural beauty, near the Hudson River Park is the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, housing vessels from various points in American history, including World War II.
4. Prospect Park
Covering 520 acres of nature, tucked away in Brooklyn, Prospect Park not only offers an alternative to Manhattan’s Central Park, (minus the crowds and the noise), but it’s designed by the same architects – Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted. With its picturesque views, vast meadows, zoo, and an incredible Botanical Garden housing 18,000 different plants, Prospect Park is an ideal place to visit this springtime! The park is surrounded by some of Brooklyn’s most historic neighborhoods, so at the end of your visit you can get out of the park and take some pictures of the century old brownstones. For the culture lovers, a visit to The Brooklyn Museum is a must! This is the third-largest museum in NYC, housing 1.5 million pieces of artwork all organized by culture, geographic location, or era.
5. Riverside Park
For sweeping views down the Hudson River, the choice has to be Riverside Park, one of only eight scenic landmarks designated in New York City. The park stretched for four miles from 59th street to 158th street, lined with stately trees, historic buildings, and peppered with playgrounds for families.
The first plans for the park were drawn up in the 1870s by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the same people who designed Central Park (and a few other parks to be mentioned here, as well). Some of New York’s most notable landmarks can be found here, as well, such as Grant’s Tomb and the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument.
6. Wave Hill Park
This beautiful park can be found in the northern Bronx among the expansive estates of the Riverdale neighborhood. Perched overlooking the Hudson River Wave Hill is a stunning park unlike any other in New York City. You’re likely to totally forget you are in the Bronx while you walk over the hills and through the trails you will find nearby. As a bonus you’ll get some impressive views of New Jersey’s riverside cliffs across the Hudson.
7. Washington Square Park
For the bohemians, youngsters, artists, and everyone in between, Washington Square Park is the epicenter of creativity and NYC history. Located in the hip Greenwich Village on 10 acres, the park is the regular meeting spot for NYU students, skateboarders and street artists. Its distinctive Washington Arch is a replica of the Arc de Triomphe built in 1895, honoring George Washington.
The park boasts statues of famous historical figures – such as the steel engineer Alexander Lyman Holley and the Italian soldier and unifier Giuseppe Garibaldi – alongside the oldest tree in Manhattan, 300-year-old Hangman’s Elm.