9 must see parks in New York

Published by: BouncePosted

Adorned with lush greenery, striking art installations and sculptures, and gorgeous blooms, the parks in New York are always fascinating destinations regardless of your reason for visiting the Big Apple. They allow visitors and locals to take a breather, rest, and feel close to nature amid the chaotic and buzzing city life.

With over 1,700 NYC parks, playgrounds, gardens, and recreational facilities across its five boroughs, where do you even start? We’ll break down the top New York City parks you should add to your itinerary, their amenities, and activities you can do. Some are more popular than others, home to museums, art galleries, and iconic landmarks, but many of NYC’s hidden natural sanctuaries are also worth discovering, providing an escape from the hectic life in the city. They also host regular events, holiday markets, and festivals, offering a peaceful setting to gather and enjoy scenic views and fresh air.

Whether you’re only stopping by after shopping and dining or it’s your first stop after arriving in the city, you can benefit from bounce luggage storage. It’s a safe and convenient place to store your belongings in New York, so you can relax or participate in activities hands-free.

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Central Park

Every New Yorker will tell you that you really haven’t been to New York without going to Central Park. It’s the largest and most important public park nestled between the Upper West Side and Upper East Side of Manhattan. It was established to provide urban residents with a countryside experience in a rapidly growing city, and more than 150 years later, it continues to fulfill its purpose while offering more recreational opportunities for locals and tourists.

New York’s Central Park boasts 843 acres of idyllic woodland, sweeping lawns, broad lakes, meandering streams, playgrounds, architectural features, arts, and a zoo, providing an opportunity to balance relaxation with fun activities for all ages. One of its most iconic features is the Belvedere Castle, perched atop Vista Rock, for spectacular views of the Great Lawn, the Ramble, and the Turtle Pond. A gift shop and Central Park’s visitor centers are also found here.

Dedicate a full-day visit to explore its incredible attractions thoroughly and appreciate all it has to offer. If you don’t know where to start with dozens of activities and points of interest in the park, join a tour with an expert tour guide who will explain its history, events, features, and creatures living in Central Park. There are also various self-guided tours that allow you to discover what makes Central Park an entertainment and recreation hub in the city.

Washington Square Park

Another beloved park in New York City is Washington Square Park. It’s a small green space with a long history in lower Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. It’s less green and not as expansive as Central Park at 9.75 acres, but it has served numerous roles for its community since its establishment in 1871.

You’ll often see Washington Square Park filled with tourists and locals. Since it’s the center of New York University’s campus, surrounded by several university buildings, it has become a favorite hangout place among students. The Washington Square Arch is the park’s most prominent feature, constructed in 1889 to honor George Washington.

There’s always something going on at Washington Square Park, no matter what day of the week or time of the day you visit. It’s common to find people lounging on the grass, taking photos in front of the arch, jumping in the fountain, walking their dogs, or simply watching everyone while sitting on one of the benches.

Hudson River Park

If you’re looking for the ultimate family-friendly adventure in New York, the Hudson River Park is a must-visit destination with four miles of esplanades, piers, and landscapes. It features fantastic play areas, spectacular gardens, breathtaking sunset views, and many more. With so many things to do, it’s no surprise that this New York City park attracts seventeen million visitors each year.

Take the kids out for a ride on Pier 62 Carousel, with 33 hand-carved Hudson River Valley animals, or get a nice workout at one of the beach volleyball courts at Pier 25. There are also skateparks at Pier 25 and 62, waterside playgrounds, and multiple recreational spaces to keep everyone busy and entertained throughout the day. And if you need to replenish after hours of fun, check out one of the cafes and restaurants and dine while enjoying waterfront views.

Riverside Park

The four-mile-long Riverside Park is recognized as the most spectacular waterfront park in Manhattan. It’s one of the officially designated scenic landmarks in New York City, stretching from West 72 Street to West 153 Street along the Hudson River. It has a long and storied past, featuring several monuments, a public marina, a skate park, sports fields and courts, and more.

The site was transformed from a rail yard into a parkland in 1872. It was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, the master behind the famous Central Park, outlining the Riverside Drive that winds along the Hudson River through the rocky landscape. Then, it was expanded by Samuel Parsons, Jr. and Calvert Vaux to create a picturesque NYC park with views of the river and promenades.

Between 2001 and 2020, Riverside Park South was constructed, sandwiched between Hudson River Park and the historic Riverside Park on the eastern shore of the Hudson River. It combines a recreational space and flourishing native ecosystems that honor the area’s significant role in New York City’s railroad heritage.

The Battery

Formerly known as Battery Park, this relaxing NYC park can be found at Manhattan’s lower tip, offering access to New York harbor. Even in the early 18th century, the Battery has been a favorite place for locals, thanks to its magnificent harbor view and lovely promenade. It contains numerous monuments honoring inventors, immigrants, soldiers, and explorers. These include the East Coast Memorial across New York Harbor facing the Statue of Liberty, the American Merchant Mariners Memorial with three figures on a boat, the Admiral George Dewey Memorial, etc.

For plant lovers, don’t skip the Gardens of The Battery, 240,000 square feet of perennial gardens. It’s free and open to everyone year-round, where you can relax, engage with nature, and savor the beauty, peace, and tranquility of the waterfront park. Drop off your bags in a storage locker near The Battery and rent a bike to cycle around the 31-mile uninterrupted bicycle path and weave through the lush gardens and trees.

Pelham Bay Park

At 2,776 acres, Pelham Bay Park is the largest park in New York City, more than three times the size of the world-renowned Central Park. With scenic rocky shores, dense woodlands, flowering grass meadows, and saltwater marshes, this 19th-century NYC park required little alteration due to its natural beauty. It boasts the city’s most ecologically diverse habitats where visitors can take a break and learn about native ecology.

Although most of the area consists of forests and woodlands, there are extensive camping facilities, athletic fields, tennis courts, two golf courses, a football field made from synthetic turf, a driving range, and play equipment you can use. Take your furry friend for a run, get fit in the outdoor fitness area, or get lost around Hunter Island and escape the city life’s hustle and bustle. There are also trails to tackle and several indoor settings to explore, such as the historic Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, the Bronx Equestrian Center, and the Turtle Cove Golf Center.

Flushing Meadows Corona Park

If you find yourself in Queens, be sure to stop by Flushing Meadows Corona Park. It’s the fourth-biggest park in New York City and the largest in Queens, featuring several cultural institutions, such as the Queens Museum, the New York Hall of Science, the Queens Zoo, and the Queens Wildlife Conservation Center. With numerous attractions and activities to do, Flushing Meadows Corona Park welcomes over nine million people from around the world.

You’ll need a few hours to explore the park and take part in the programs and events. It has something for nature enthusiasts, artists, historians, art lovers, or anyone who wants to play games or find a nice place to read a book. For many sports fans, this NYC park is home to the New York Mets and the site of the US Open, attracting visitors to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

One of its best-kept secrets is the vast lake in the middle of the park. The Meadow Lake is a quiet respite from the busy city, which connects to the 45-acre Willow Lake. It’s an ideal spot for fishing, kayaking, or paddle boating.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

One of the most irresistible parks in New York City is Brooklyn Bridge Park. It transformed into a world-class urban sanctuary on the Brooklyn waterfront, with engaging educational programs and innovative recreational, fitness, and cultural activities each year. It regularly hosts events to create opportunities for visitors and NYC residents to grow, learn, and experience New York in a more exciting way.

If you want a kid-friendly adventure, a ride on the beautiful antique Jane’s Carousel will keep them busy. It offers rides on 48 carved horses and two chariots in a glass pavilion beneath the bridge. To ensure they’re learning while having fun, why not take them to the Environmental Education Center? They can investigate the infrastructure, intriguing history, and ecology of the Brooklyn waterfront.

Pier 1 will treat you to panoramic views of lower Manhattan. It’s also an excellent place for bird watching as waterfowl and wading birds love visiting the salt marsh here. Go to Pier 2 to play games like ping pong, basketball, pickleball, and handball. There are also picnic tables, swing sets, and seasonal kayaking programs. If you’re up for more views, the 3.5-acre main street space offers plenty of ways to enjoy the waterfront year-round. Regardless of which part of Brooklyn Bridge Park you go to, you’ll find something here that will pique your interest.

Prospect Park

With a zoo, museums, a library, and places for a picnic, jogging, walking, and running your dog, there are dozens of ways to enjoy NYC’s Prospect Park. It was designed by the same architects who made Central Park happen, Calvert Vaux and Frederick Olmstead, so if you had a wonderful time in New York’s most beloved park, you’re sure to love a warm afternoon here, whether you’re alone, with a family, a partner, or a furry friend.

Prospect Park is massive, covering almost 600 acres of sprawling lawns, bike and walking paths, playgrounds, historic monuments, and mature trees. Visitors are welcome to the 18th-century Lefferts Historic House, a Flatbush farmhouse and NYC landmark. It was initially located near Maple Street at 563 Flatbush Avenue until it was moved to its current location in 1917. It has indoor and outdoor displays, hands-on experiences, imaginative play, and cultural performances.

The Prospect Park Zoo is another must-see attraction, home to about 400 animals of over a hundred species. Here, you’ll see animals in environments that mirror their natural habitats. In winter, LeFrak Center at Lakeside offers figure skating, ice skating, and hockey in winter and boating, water play, biking, and roller skating in summer. There are also cafes and eateries, as well as venues for weddings, parties, and special occasions.

Unmissable New York City parks

From the massive urban oases like Central Park and Pelham Bay Park to smaller university parks and hidden natural reserves, New York City is blessed with natural beauty that blends perfectly with its majestic towering buildings. Not only do they provide a home for New York’s diverse flora and fauna, but they also allow city dwellers and tourists to find a refuge from the stresses and hassles of city life. If you’re looking for more things to do in the Big Apple that don’t involve shopping or bar hopping, read our guides 6 beaches near New York and 17 best hikes in New York.

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