UPDATED NOV 1, 2019
In a city of eight million people, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed from time to time. Luckily, there are a lot of green spaces to hide out in. And since they’re not all as obvious as that giant one in the middle we know and love, here’s a list of our favorite parks in NYC.
This is arguably the most famous park in the world, and it really does live up to the hype. Go there to run the loop, play tennis, paddleboat, or just people-watch. The bottom of the park can get pretty touristy, but the further north you go, the calmer it gets. If you’re looking for somewhere quiet to relax, Conservatory Garden is the perfect place for a little peace.
With views of the Statue of Liberty and the Freedom Tower, Battery Park is the ideal spot to take in the city without feeling too close to the action. When it’s warm out, you can rent kayaks or paddleboards from Pier 26. If you’ve got visitors with you, Seaglass Carousel is a fun place to stop (and snap a few for the ‘gram).
An escape in Brooklyn, Prospect Park feels like a true park — you won’t see any high-rises from here, and it’s hardly ever packed with tourists. Highlights include the dog beach, the zoo, and Long Meadow. Fun fact: this is the longest stretch of unbroken meadow in any urban American park.
This waterfront park has SO much to explore, and some seriously great views of the city. You can run or bike along Brooklyn’s 14-mile greenway or cook out at one of the grills at Pier 5. There are also soccer and volleyball courts, and plenty of gardens along the piers. The only problem is figuring out what you’ll do first.
This NYU-adjacent park is one of the best people-watching spots in the city, and that’s saying something. There are always people performing and playing games under the iconic arch. So grab some ice cream at Van Leeuwen and a seat on a bench to watch it all unfold.
This Long Island City park is really a hidden gem. There are cool art sculptures to check out, a farmers market on Saturdays, and plenty of grassy spots to read or do some yoga by the water. Fitt Tip: it’s a short walk from Greek on the Street, a food truck with some of the best gyros around.
If you work in Midtown, this is probably already your go-to lunch spot. There are plenty of tables and room to sit on the lawn, plus a few food stalls and a Joe Coffee Company outpost. During the winter, it’s kind of a zoo, but the holiday stalls that go up are ideal for some quick holiday shopping.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, right? Maybe, but you can get free produce and herbs at this cool floating community garden. The barge moves around the city; most recently, it was up in the Bronx, parked at Concrete Plant Park. Keep an eye on Swale’s website and social media to find out where it’s going next.
With no cars, a castle, and a giant slide, Governors Island kind of feels like one big playground. Take a short ferry ride there from Brooklyn Bridge Park or the Battery Maritime Building, and make sure to climb up Outlook Hill for an awesome view of the city. If the island’s name sounds familiar, it may be because it hosts Governors Ball music festival in the summer.
If you’re looking for a date spot, you can’t go wrong with the botanical gardens. Peak times are April and May, when the cherry blossoms are out, and October and November, when the leaves are changing. Curious about composting at home? There’s a whole exhibit on that here, because Brooklyn.
The Cloisters is an easily-missed museum because it’s about as far north as you can go and still be in Manhattan. With that said, it’s definitely worth the trip, especially if you spend some time in Fort Tryon Park next door. It’s got pretty, wooded trails and a dog run, plus an awesome view of the Hudson River.
Upper East Siders, this one’s for you. There’s some construction going on through 2018, but you can still enjoy the views of the East River while running or biking along the one-and-a-half-mile greenway. The park also has sports fields, shady spots to eat or read, and barbecuing areas.