New York is the densest, loudest city in America, but there are plenty of beautiful greenspaces in the city limits where visitors and residents can catch their collective breath. From the center of the city to the Bronx shore, these six N.Y.C. parks are among our favorites.
It’s obvious, sure, but the 843-acre granddaddy of American city parks is essential to any travel itinerary – it’s the lungs of the Big Apple. Among the places to visit here are the Loeb Boathouse, the Tavern On The Green restaurant, the Delacorte Theater (which hosts Shakespeare in the Park during the summer), the Bethesda Fountain, the Central Park Zoo, the Alice in Wonderland sculpture, and the Strawberry Fields memorial to John Lennon.
Landscape architect and Central Park co-designer Frederick Law Olmsted is said to have preferred this 526-acre Brooklyn greenspace, which he and Calvert Vaux also conceived. Highlights here include the ever-crowded Long Meadow, the Prospect Park Bandshell (which hosts great concerts during the summer), and the Nethermead Arches. The lovely Brooklyn Botanic Garden is just adjacent to Prospect Park.
The High Line
One of the world’s most revolutionary parks, The High Line converted a disused elevated railway on the west side of Manhattan (it used to shuttle goods between factories, warehouses, and meatpacking facilities) into a public greenspace. The first section opened in 2009, and since its completion in 2019 the park now runs the length of more than 20 blocks, from Gansevoort Street to West 34th Street. It’s always packed, but it’s worth fighting the crowds for the unique views it offers of the city.
Washington Square Park
The beating heart of Greenwich Village is this lively park, with its iconic gateway arch and bustling scene of sunbathing NYU students, busking folk musicians, outdoor chess players, and just about every other kind of New Yorker you can think of.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
The stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, the East River, and the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges are just the start at this 85-acre greenway, which was designed by acclaimed landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh. Kids will love the restored 48-horse Jane’s Carousel, while those looking to work up a sweat can hit the basketball courts, soccer fields, roller rink, and rock-climbing wall.
334 Furman St., Brooklyn; brooklynbridgepark.org
Pelham Bay Park
Sprawling over 2,772 acres, this park is the city’s largest. Its waterside location means you can soak up some sun at Orchard Beach, while the manmade attractions include two golf courses and the historic Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum. Horseback-riding lessons are available at the Bronx Equestrian Center.
Watt Ave. and Middletown Rd., The Bronx; nycgovparks.org