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Want to escape the overwhelming chaos, mounds of garbage, and house cat-sized rats that proliferate throughout New York City (I mean, I love the NYC but we definitely have our issues)? If so then check out this local’s guide to 25 of the best parks in NYC!

Trust me, I’ve lived in the city for well over twenty-five years and know exactly where you can go to enjoy a super sweet picnic and snag at least a few brief moments of solitude in one of the world’s ultimate dream destinations

And while some of the best parks in NYC listed here are straight-up mythic (yes Central Park, I’m looking at you), some of these lovely little slabs of greenery are total NYC hidden gems that even super-savvy, “I’ve seen it all” locals can enjoy.

So, if you want to get back to nature in a city that is immortally known as the “concrete jungle where dreams are made of”, then you’ve come to the right place my NYC loving homie. Because I’m about to reveal a boatload of expert tips on 25 of the best parks in NYC.

Therefore, be sure to have your Uber app open and your Metrocard at the ready. Because after reading this post, you’re definitely want to romantically frolic through a meadow full of greenery as you tote around a wicker basket full of edible goodies.

You know, so that you can savor a delicious picnic atop an uber-plush plaid blanket that picturesquely sits in one of NYC’s many primo picnic spots.

At least that is until a rogue pigeon (aka rats with wings) tries to steal your feast and a random seagull poops all over you (only pretend I didn’t say poop but something a wee bit stronger). 

Yup, NYC truly is the place where dreams are made. LOL. 

Dear wonderful, beautiful, and oh-so-amazing reader (Yup, I lay it on thick for my dozens of fans). Since I am incapable of making it rain money, there’s a high probability (like 99.999%) that this post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.

***Booking a flight to NYC and not sure where to stay in NYC? Then check out 414 Hotel (Rooms at this chic, Hell’s Kitchen hotel start at $159 per night and include fridges, flat-screen TVs and iPod docks. There’s even a working fireplace in the lobby!), The James New York (Chic, modern rooms at this Soho hotel start at $177 per night and feature high ceilings, floor to ceiling windows, glassed-off bathrooms, plush linens made from natural materials, and more), The Bowery Hotel (Rooms at this 5-star, Nolita hotel start at $300 per night and are cozy, but stylish, with free Wifi, free bike rentals, exquisite city views, and more). and Pod 39 (Located in Murray Hill, this pod hotel sits inside a residential home from 1918. Rooms here start at $120 per night and are cozy and outfitted with queen-size beds or stainless-steel bunk beds with individual TVs and bedside shelves).***

Best Parks in NYC – Manhattan

1. Central Park

An iconic view of Central Park in the fall.

An iconic view of Central Park in the fall.

Oh look, Central Park made it on this list of the best parks in NYC. Insert gasps of shock and total awe here. 

LOL. Totally kidding btw since Central Park is easily one of the most famous parks in New York City and should definitely be on anyone and everyone’s 4 day NYC itinerary

It’s also hella big so don’t try and “see it all” in one day since that is very much impossible At least if you have a limited amount of time in the Big Apple. 

No really, I’m not joking. You could easily spend several days exploring this straight-up mythic New York City park and all the iconinc New York City landmarks that surround it, 

You know, nifty little places like the MET, the Museum of Natural History, Central Park Zoo, Belvedere Castle, Strawberry Fields (a memorial to John Lenon), Sheep Meadow, Bethesda Terrace, The Mall, the Alice and Wonderland statue, and Literary Walk, Ther Conservatory Garden, The Ramble, the Shakespeare Garden (on the west side between 79th and 80th Street) The Boathouse (home to one of the best brunch spots in NYC), just to name a few. 

In total though, the park spans an insane 843 acres and is home to a diverse array of vast meadows, European-style gardens, beautiful lakes, historic castles, tree-lined walkways, and outdoor theaters. 

All of which was first conceived of by architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in the 1860s and 70s.

See, they wanted to create a beautiful oasis of greenery that was open to ALL New Yorkers, regardless of race, socio-economic status, and religion.

To achieve this goal, they later built a complicated network of roads and footpaths that were designed to keep foot and road traffic totally separate from one another – thereby maintaining the illusion that visitors were in a secluded natural area outside of NYC.

Today though, this iconic green space is still one of the best parks in NYC and is home to a wide array of activities like Shakespeare in the Park.

However, to avoid hordes of snap-happy tourists, try visiting on a quiet weekday afternoon and exploring less popular sections of the park, like the Harlem Meer and the North Meadow (both are well above 72nd street). 

And, just a little FYI. The Central Park Conservancy also offers fantastic themed tours of the park, including ones that focus on art, wildlife viewing, and various kid-friendly topics (check their website for more info but most are either free or under $15 per person).

***Since Central Park really does put the ass back in massive, you may want to take a guided 2-hour walking tour of NYC’s most famous park while you’re here. Trust me on this. If you have limited time in NYC and want to see all of the park’s major highlights without getting lost AF, then a guided tour of the park for $24 per person is the way to go. This way, you can quickly and easily see iconic Central Park landmarks like the Great Lawn and Bethesda Fountain (in addition to various filming locations) while receiving fantastic expert commentary from your knowledgeable guide. So yeah, definitely the way to go if you have a limited amount of time in Central Park but still want to see as much as humanly possible.***

2. The Battery (formerly known as Battery Park)

A view of the Battery's waterfront and the World Trade Center in the background.

A view of the Battery’s waterfront and the World Trade Center in the background.

First opened in 1823, The Battery (once Battery Park) is a 12-acre area park that overlooks New York Harbor along the Southern tip of Manhattan. 

It’s also easily one of the best parks in NYC and one of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan since there is a ton to do here. 

I mean, not only does this park give you stellar views of the Statue of Liberty, but you can also hop aboard the State Island Ferry while you’re here, take the ferry to Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty, explore Castle Clinton (a small fort built to protect NYC during the war of 1912 and where you can get ferry tickets for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island), and take a spin on the Seaglass Carousel (tickets are $5 per person).

What, still not convinced you should visit this amazing place?

Well, then you’ll be delighted to know that in addition to having several public art displays, this buffet of greenery is also home to a series of well-manicured gardens, a variety of scenic pathways, and memorials to the victims of the Korean War (as well as a monument dedicated to Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano),  

It was also the site of the area’s first Dutch settlement in 1625 and was where the city’s first battery (hence the unoriginal name) was established.

So yeah, gobs and gobs of history is here.

However, that also means that the Battery is a mecca for tourists since the Statue of Liberty is RIGHT here.

Therefore, be on the lookout for petty thieves and scammers who will try to sell you fake tickets to the Statue of Liberty. 

Yeah, the only place that sells LEGIT tickets to the Statue of Liberty is the office at Castle Clinton. Otherwise, you can always save yourself a whole lot of time (and stress), by purchasing Statue of Liberty tickets online now

3. The Highline

Skyline views from the Highline, one of the best parks in NYC.

Skyline views from the Highline, one of the best parks in NYC.

Oh look, another unsurprising addition to this list of the best parks in NYC. 

But that’s okay because with a park this awesome you could easily visit dozens of times and still never get enough.  

However, “what’s all the hoopla la about?” you may be rightfully wondering. Welp, the Highline is actually a 1.5-mile-long park that runs along the west side of Manhattan.

Yeah, it was actually built atop an old set of railway tracks and was first opened in ye olde 2009 (Seriously, how was 2009 a decade ago?). It also starts at the Javits Center and extends all down to the Whitney Museum of American Art.

That’s why it’s now an immortal part of the New York City landscape that routinely provides ever stressed-out New Yorkers with a bit of much needed botanical bliss.

It’s also home to some of the best views in NYC, in addition to some pretty dang awesome public art displays.

And when you’re not soaking up all this bodacious botanical bliss? Well, feel free to check out nearby attractions like the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Vessel at Hudson Yards, and Cheslea Market. 

Address: Since the Highline spans 1.5 miles, check here for an entry point near you.

Hours: Open daily from 12:00 am to 8:00 pm

Price: Free

How to get there: Check here for transportation information since it will depend on your starting point.

4. Bryant Park

The fountain at Bryant Park all lit up in the evening.

The fountain at Bryant Park all lit up in the evening.

Bryant Park may be small. But what it lacks in size it totally makes up for in personality.

That because everywhere you turn you’ll find uber-cool things like ping pong tables, European-style food kiosks, a lovely little lending library, a picturesque fountain, and tons of metal tables and chairs where stressed AF New Yorkers can sit and enjoy lovely views of the park’s expansive lawn (not surprisingly used for sunbathing in the summer).  

Before you leave though, be sure to go for a whirl on the park’s whimsical, French-style carousel before snagging a delicious chocolate Babka from the Bread’s Bakery kiosk here (the waffles at Wafels and Dinges are also pretty stellar). 

FYI, this iconic mid-town greenspace also sits right behind the New York Library and is just a hop, skip, and jump away from Grand Central Terminal, Times Square, and the Morgan Library. 

So yeah, you’d have exactly no problem seeing all of these amazing places in a single day. 

Additionally, a winter village pops up here in the, DUH, winter (complete with a snazzy ice skating rink) while various films are shown here throughout the summer – making it almost impossible to believe that this place was actually a total hell hole in the 70s when this place was not-so-fondly referred to as “Needle Park”. 

***PSST…you could also stop in for an evening nightcap on the patio of the beautiful Bryant Park Grill. It’s so next-level gorgeous that a ton of weddings are held here throughout the spring.***.

5. Union Square Park

An aerial view of Union Square from a store in NYC.

An aerial view of Union Square from a store in NYC.

Ahh, good old Union Square.

It was first opened in 1831 and is a smallish park that has historically been at the center of various protest movements that proliferated throughout the city. 

Today though, it’s like this uber-weird, super fascinating amalgamation of the most eclectic locals that you ever did see.

So, if you’re looking for one of the best parks in NYC to do a bit of low-key people watching, then this is the place for you.

Because as soon as you enter the park, you’ll find local musicians jamming out, tired office workers quickly inhaling their lunch, chess players throwing it down on public chess boards, and skateboards nailing some gnarly (do people even say this anymore or am I just old AF?) tricks on the southeastern stairs. 

Other park highlights include various public art pieces (like an enormous statue of George Washington on a horse and a wacky Metronome that tells time), a holiday market that pops up every year, and a fantastic local farmer’s market that is held here every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday between 8:00 and 6:00 pm. 

6.Riverside Park

Some of the beautiful tree-lined paths you'll find in Riverside Park.

Some of the beautiful tree-lined paths you’ll find in Riverside Park.

Guess what? This beautiful park on the Upper West Side of New York was also designed by Central Park developers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.

It’s also an insanely picturesque place that sits along the Hudson River and that stretches out over a behemoth four miles between West 59th and 155th Street.

So, meander along the park’s seemingly neverending series of walking paths and expect to find playgrounds, dog parks, sports fields, skate parks, and killer views of New Jersey just across the river.

Also, between late March and October (depending on how crap the weather is), a series of fun waterside eateries will come to life, including West 79th Street Boat Basin Café and St. Pier i Café.

7. Washington Square Park

An aerial view of New York City’s famous Washington Square Park.

Say hello to another one of the most famous green spaces on this list of the best parks in NYC. 

It’s lined by a series of lovely Greek Revival townhouses in Greenwich Village and is another supremely quriky place where you’ll find all manner of NYC locals, including NYU students taking a break from classes, street performers expertly revving up crowds of onlookers, skateboarders doing tricks, and speed chess players looking to annihilate their competition. 

Before you leave though, don’t forget to check out the park’s most iconic feature, a 73-foot tall arch made of white Tuckahoe marble that is known as the Stanford White Arch.

And if this local landmark on the Northside of the park somehow looks eerily familiar, that’s because it was modeled after the famed Arc De Triomphe in Paris,

Yup, another fun little factoid for ya.

Also, because this is defiitely one of the most Instagrammable places in NYC, be sure to arrive early (you know, to avoid pesky crowds of people) and have your camera at the ready so that you can take some beyond GORG photos. 

Just stand directly in front of the Stanford White Arch (so that you’re peering down Fifth Avenue) and capture this exquisite arch with the Empire State Building quietly sitting in the background.

Yes my friends, we call this true, photographic magic.

Address: Washington Square, New York, NY 10012

Hours: Open 6:00 am to 12:00 am daily.

Price: Free!

How to Get There: Take the A/C/E train or the B/D/F/M train to stops at Washington Square Park and walk from there.

Best Parks in NYC – Brooklyn

8. Prospect Park

Some of the quiet pavilions you'll find in Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

Some of the quiet pavilions you’ll find in Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

Located in Brooklyn’s ever-popular neighborhood of Park Slope, Prospect Park is definitely one of the biggest and most famous parks in NYC.

And that makes sense once you realize that this historic, 585-acre park was created in 1867 by the same men who brought you, Central Park, 

So yeah, expect a whole lot of Central Park vibes here, including tree-lined pathways, decorative bridges, expansive meadows, two lakes, an eastside boathouse, playgrounds, sports fields, neoclassical style arches, sculptures, a zoo, and a series of columns that flank all of the park’s major entrances. 

There’s also an ice skating rink here in the winter (it transforms into a water play area in the summer), boats for hire on the lake in the summer, free concerts at the bandstand near 9th street and Prospect, and a farmer’s market on Saturdays at the Grand Army Plaza entrance. 

If you can though, try to stop by on a warm, Sunday afternoon so that you can marvel at the musicians who play at Drummer’s Grove.

Not gonna lie, it’s definitely one of the more impressive street performances I’ve seen in NYC 

Address: Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY.

Hours: Open 5:00 am to 1:00 am daily.

Price: Free!

How to Get There: Take the O and then the R train to 9th street station. Transfer to the F train and take that to 15th Street and Prospect Park station. 

9. Brooklyn Bridge Park

Sweeping views of lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Sweeping views of lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Tucked away in the DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) area of Brooklyn is this 85-acre park. It’s easily one of the best parks in NYC and is brimming over with stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. 

In total, this green space runs along a 1.3 mile stretch of the East River (from the Manhattan Bridge to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn Heights) and features a wealth of scenic walkways,  expansive lawns, and children’s playgrounds. 

Heck, there’s even a vintage style carousel here (locally known as Jane’s Carousel) that dates all the way back to 1922.

For some of the most impressive photo ops though, find Squibb Park Bridge near Brooklyn Heights and take it to Pier 1 (Pebble Beach also has great photo ops too) for some mind-blowingly beautiful panoramas (brownie points if you get there in time for sunrise which is incredible). 

Other things to do in and around Brooklyn Bridge Park include:

  • Attend free film screenings, try a yoga/pilates class (not free), or rock out at an outdoor dance party in the summer. 
  • Enjoy basketball, bocce, and handball courts at Pier 2, as well as a roller skating rink and free kayaking  (offered three times a week between June and August). 
  • Visit the beach at Pier 4 and the picnic areas/gardens at Pier 3.
  • Enjoy some delicious ice cream at the Ample Hills Creamery Kiosk at Pier 5 (seriously some of the best ice cream in the city). 
  • Families can head to Pier 6 for a nice litle water play area ad great playgrounds. Ferries to Governors Island also depart from here throughout the summer. 
  • Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Access the pedestrian walkway from the Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall subway station (on the Manhattan side) or by following signs from either the High St-Brooklyn Bridge station or Cadman Plaza Park in Brooklyn. 

Address: 334 Furman St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Hours: Open daily from 6:00 am to 1:00 am (FYI, be aware that some sections of the park close before 1:00 am. So, the playgrounds close at dusk, Pier 2 park closes at 8:00 pm, and the volleyball courts, as well as Pier 5 and Squibb Park Bridge, all close at 11:00 pm).  

Price: Free!

How to Get there: Take the 2 or 3 train to Clark Street Station and walk to the park from there. 

10. Brooklyn Botanic Garden

A scenic view of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.

A scenic view of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.

Infinitely less well known than its cousin from the boogie down Bronx is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

It was first opened in 1911 and is an ethereal, wonderfully peaceful, 52-acre park that is brimming over with thousands upon thousands of different plant species, including a vast collection of Bonsai trees that are well over 300 years old. 

Yup, there’s so much Japanese inspired, botanical bliss here (think large swaths of Cherry Blossom trees and a Japanese-style Shinto Shrine in an on-site lake) that the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is actually home to the largest Japanese garden in the United States. 

Therefore, do try and visit in either late April or early May, when all of the Cherry Blossoms are in full bloom and the park holds its annual Cherry Blossom Festival. 

However, you’re done exploring this gorgeous Japanese-style section of the park, be sure to stop by the Shakespeare Garden (it’s filled with plant species that were mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays), the Rose Garden (featuring upwards of a thousand different flowers, including waterlilies that sit atop terrace pools), Daffodil Hill, The Desert Pavilion (home to an exotic plants species found in the desert), the Discovery Garden (a hands-on touch garden for kids), etc.

Also, for convenience’s sake, try to enter the garden right near the Brooklyn Museum. The Washington Ave entrance is also pretty good too and will take you to a beautiful eco-themed visitor center that comes complete with a neat AF ‘living roof’ that is covered with all sorts of plants. 

Yup, it’s probably even cooler than it sounds.

***If you’re really into plants, you can also see the garden’s famous Titan Arum bloom once every ten years. And while it may be beautiful, it smells a whole lot like rotting flesh so come with a barf bag in tow.***

Address: 900 Washington Avenue Brooklyn, New York, 11238

Hours: Open Tuesday through Friday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (March through October). The gardens close at 4:30 pm instead of 6:00 pm in November and are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm in December and February.

How to Get There: Take the 2 or 3 train to Eastern Parkway Brooklyn Museum station and walk to the garden from there.

Price: Tickets are $18 per person with free Friday mornings from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm (March through November). Last admissions are also thirty minutes before the garden closes.

11. McCarren Park

Benches, a street lamp, and fall foliage in McCarren Park in Brooklyn.

Benches, a street lamp, and fall foliage in McCarren Park in Brooklyn.

Nestled along the border of Greenpoint and Williamsburg Brooklyn is this charming 35-acre park.

It’s also one of the best parks in NYC and is just a great place to enjoy a picnic or do a little barbecuing on a warm summer’s day. 

There’s also a free community pool here that you can use throughout the summer (go early to avoid gobs of people), as well as free evening movie showings and live music events that are held on Wednesdays in July and August. 

So yeah, definitely stop by and see where all the locals go after they brunch it up in Williamsburg. 

And if you’re feeling extra energetic, you can even go for a run on the track next door or play a mean game of tennis in the courts across the street. 

Address: 776 Lorimer St, Brooklyn, NY 11222

Hours: Open daily from 6:00 am to 1:00 am. 

How to Get There: Take the 7 to Court Square station, get off and transfer to the G and then get off at Nassau Avenue station. 

Price: Free!

12..Domino Park

A night view of Domino Park in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

A night view of Domino Park in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

One of the smaller parks in NYC, Domino Park is a 5-acre expanse of greenery in Williamsburg that was recently built in 2018  atop the site of the former Domino Sugar Factory (hence the name). 

It’s brought to you by the same folks who designed the Highline and features a lovely, riverside walkway that offers impressive views of the Manhattan skyline.

There’s also a stylized playground here that is meant to resemble metal pipes, as well as a volleyball and bocce ball court.  

Added bonus? This is one of the best parks in NYC that is also dog-friendly, so feel free to bring your favorite pooch. 

Address: 300 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249

Hours: Open daily from 6:00 am to 1:00 am. 

How to Get There: Take the L train to Bedford Avenue station and walk to the park from here (it’s a slightly long, 17-minute walk).

Price: Free!

13. Marine Park 

Located in the, you guessed it, Marine Park section of Brooklyn is none other than Marine Park.

It’s a massive, 540-acre park along Jamaica Bay that is filled with large swaths of protected salt marshes and grasslands – making it the single biggest park in Brooklyn. 

There are also a ton of golf courses, bocce ball courts, baseball fields, and cricket areas here that sports lovers can enjoy. 

Sprinkle in some playgrounds, bike trails, and a boat launch area for canoes and kayaks, and you easily have one of the best parks in NYC. 

Just be forewarned though. Because if you don’t have a car, this park can be a pain in the butt to get to. 

Address: Fillmore Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11229

Hours: Open daily from 6:00 am to 1:00 am. 

How to Get There: Take the Q train to King’s Highway station and catch the B100 bus to Fillmore Avenue and then walk to the park. 

Price: Free!

14. WNYC Transmitter Park

Empty Pier at Transmitter Park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Empty Pier at Transmitter Park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Originally the site of the WNYC public radio station (hence the name), this is a smallish, 6.61-acre park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, that overlooks the beautiful, East River. 

As you can see, it’s a pretty lovely park with stunning views of the surrounding area. 

That’s why, if you’re looking for a small, quiet park where you can go to collect your thoughts, then this is definitely one of the best parks in NYC for you. 

Address: Greenpoint Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222

Hours: Open daily from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm. 

How to Get There: Take the 7 train to Court Square station, transfer to the G, get off and Greenpoint Avenue, and then walk to the park from there. 

Price: Free!

Best Parks in NYC – Queens

15. Flushing Meadows Corona Park

The Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, NY.

The Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, NY.

Probably the single most famous park in all of Queens, Flushing Meadows Corona Park is a sprawling, 900-acre area that is known the world over for being home to both Citifield (where the Mets baseball team plays) and the US Open Tennis Championship. 

More than that though, this beyond expansive greenspace is overflowing with a to of cool and unusual things to do, like explore the Queen’s Museum, visit the New York Hall of Science (one of the first science museums in the US), and see the animals at the Queens Zoo.

And, not gonna lie, that probably has something to do with the not-so-tiny fact that this is the only one of the best parks in NYC that was built to host the 1939 World’s Fair. 

Accordingly, you’ll find a ton of sci-fi-like buildings (Jetsons, eat your heart out) scattered throughout the park – all of which are relics from that very specific event, like the New York State Pavillion. 

You know, that immortal building that was featured in Men in Black and that resembles two flying saucers sitting atop giant poles. 

Well, these buildings, and the World’s Fair in general, were so popular, that the park was later used to host the 1964 World’s Fair too. 

And another remnant from that very event that you might want to visit is none other than the iconic Unisphere. 

It’s a 12-story tall, stainless steel globe that includes three metal rings that encircle the Earth – rings that are meant to symbolize the orbits of Yuri Gagarin (the first man in space), John Glenn (the first American to orbit the Earth), and Telstar (the first American satellite to circle the Earth).  

However, the fun doesn’t stop there my friend. Because there is still one more relic from the 1964 World’s Fair that you’ll want to see. And that is a miniature panorama of New York City. 

It sits inside the Queen’s Museum and is a 100% accurate scale model of good old NYC that is way cheaper to visit (and much less crowded) than the one in Times Square. 

FYI, it was also fully renovated in the early 90s and now features all of the buildings that were present in NYC as of 1992. 

Address: Kennedy Circle, Queens, New York, 11368

Hours: Open daily from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm.

How to Get There: Take the 7 train to 111th Street station and walk to the park from there.

Price: The park itself is free but some attractions have associated admission fees. 

16. Astoria Park

A view of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge at sunset from Astoria Park in Queens.

A view of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge at sunset from Astoria Park in Queens.

Want to visit one of the best parks in NYC that is a bit off the beaten path? Then stop by Astoria Park, a 60-acre park that sits along the East River in Queens. 

Sure, it’s most well known for a gorgeous public swimming pool that is both the largest and oldest in the entire city. 

However, if you don’t happen to have a bathing suit handy (or plan to visit NYC during the winter), then you’ll be delighted to know that there are a ton of other things to do here too. 

I mean, between the on-site tennis courts, running track, bandstand, walking trails, basketball courts, and playgrounds, you’re sure to find something fun to do.

And if not, then you can always enjoy next-level awesome waterfront views of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge and the Hell Gate Bridge. 

It’s also dog-friendly so you could totally take your favorite canine companion for a walk while you’re here. 

Address: 19 19th St, Astoria, NY 11105

Hours: Open daily from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm.

How to Get There: Take the E train to 21st Street/Queensbridge station, board the Q100 bus, get off at 21st Street and 24th Avenue, and walk to the park from there.

Price: Free!

17. Kissena Park

The lake at Kissena Park.

The lake at Kissena Park.

Located in Flushing Queens, this gigantic 235-acre park is home to a variety of different lakes, walking paths, benches, playgrounds, and meadows that are perfect for anyone looking to escape the chaos of the city. 

There are also a ton of sports fields here and even a neat little corridor that will lead you right into Flushing Meadow Park. 

Whatever you do though, do not leave without taking a scenic walk around Kissena Lake. And if you have a bit of extra time, you could also visit the Great War Memorial Knoll or play a game of tennis at one of the on-site courts, 

Address: Kissena Blvd and, Booth Memorial Ave, Fresh Meadows, NY 11365

Hours: Open daily from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm.

How to Get There: Take the 7 train to Main Street station, board the Q25 bus, get off at Kissena Boulevard and Rose Avenue, and walk to the park from there.

Price: Free!

18. Queen’s Botanical Garden

Just a hop, skip, and jump away from Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens is the Queen’s Botanical Garden. 

It’s a pretty impressive, 39-acre garden that evolved from a 5-acre “Gardens on Parade” exhibit that was originally part of the 1939 World’s Fair.

Since then though, this is one of those best parks in NYC that has grown in size and scale – a botanical oasis that now features an Annual Garden, a Compost Site, a meadow, an arboretum (the Weeping Honeylocust andWinterhzel are my faves), a Bee Garden, the Cherry Circle and Four Seasons Border (made of Cherry Trees in honor of loved ones who have died), the Children’s Garden, the Circle Garden, the Wetland and Woodland Garden, the Unity Garden (from the original World’s Fair), Pinetum (a collection of cone-bearing trees), and more.

There’s even a fantastic little environmentally friendly visitor’s center where you can stop into a nice little gift shop and art gallery. It even comes with an 8,000 square foot green roof that is adorned with 6-inches of live plants (ferns, shrubs, wildflowers, etc.) that are native to the area. 

Also, don’t forget to stop by the rose garden, which features an expertly-curated selection of rose species that romantically climb their surrounding structures, or take a stroll along the ever fragrant Helen and Martin Kaltman Frangrance Walk with its assortment of beautiful smelling shrubs, perennials, and bulbs. 

Address: 43-50 Main St, Flushing, NY 11355

Hours: Open November through March from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm and April through October from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. Closed Mondays. 

How to Get There: Take the 7 train to Main Street station, board the Q44 bus, get off at Main Street/Elder Avenue, and walk to the park from there.

Price: Free November through March and from April through October it’s $6 for adults, $4 for students and seniors (62+), $2 for kids (4 to 2), and free for kids 3 and under. 

19. Hunter’s Point South Park

Empty Walkway at Hunter's Point South Park in Long Island City Queens

Empty Walkway at Hunter’s Point South Park in Long Island City Queens

Formerly a modern-day industrial wasteland where you were 99.999% likely to get mugged, this section of Long Island City has been completely revitalized into Hunter’s Point South Park, one of the best parks in NYC.

It’s an enchanting, 10-acre park that sits along the East River and offers visitors impressive views of the Midtown East Manhattan skyline from a modern, 30-foot tall viewing platform along the water. 

This park also features a variety of other amenities that include a central green, playgrounds, adult fitness equipment, a dog run, a bike path, a waterside promenade, picnic terraces, and a basketball court,

That’s why, if you’re looking for a quiet park that offers stunning skyline views, then consider a trip to Hunter’s Point South Park. 

Address: Center Blvd, Long Island City, NY 11101

Hours: Open daily from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm. 

How to Get There: Take the 7 train to Vernon Boulevard and Jackson Avenue Station and then walk to the park from there. 

Price: Free!

Best Parks in NYC – The Bronx

20. Van Cortlandt Park 

Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, NY.

Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, NY.

Want to leave the sometimes overwhelming, chaotic frenzy of New York City behind? Want to do it with a sublime but brief foray back into nature?

If so then visit Van Cortlandt Park – easily one of the best parks in NYC.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “O-M-G! It’s the Bronx! Won’t I get shanked as soon as I disembark the train?”. 

And let me reassure you that while some sections of the Bronx are dangerous, this part of the city is totally fine. 

I mean, I’ve been to Van Cortlandt Park dozens of times and have never had an issue. I also wasn’t walking around alone once the sunset, so that probably had something to do with it too. 

Anyway, this enormous park is a solid 1,1146 acres, making it the third-largest park in the city.

Yup, feel free to be duly impressed.

It’s also home to more than twenty miles of hiking trails, including the picturesque Cass Gallagher Nature Trail, the John Kieran Trail, the John Muir Trail, the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail, and the Putnam Trail, just to name a few. 

Truly a wonderful assortment of fantastic walking paths that will take you on a fantastical journey past the park’s Forever Wild Preserve, the Northeast/Northwest Forests, the Croton Woods, the Wetlands, and the Meadows.

Whatever you do though, be sure to grab a map since you can and probably will get lost. 

But that’s totally okay since you’ll be doing fun things like barbecuing it up in the Shandler Recreation Area, playing with your fave pooch in the Canine Court, stepping back in time at the Van Cortlandt House Museum (a Georgian style home from the 18th century that is the oldest house in the Bronx), and visiting the Van Cortlandt Nature Center.

You can also check out one of the park’s four different playgrounds or enjoy a multitude of different sports fields that are free to use. 

Address: 3545 Jerome Ave, Bronx, New York, 10467

Hours: Open daily from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.

How to Get There: Take the 1 train to 242nd Street station and walk to the park from there.

Price: FREE!

21. New York Botanical Gardens 

A stunning view of some of the greenhouses you’ll find at the New York Botanical Gardens

A stunning view of some of the greenhouses you’ll find at the New York Botanical Gardens.

Easily one of the most romantic things to do in NYC, the New York Botanical Gardens is the perfect place to sit, relax, and contemplate the meaning of life…or munch on a bag of Doritos.

Yeah, I’ll probably be doing the latter. 

Anyway, the New York Botanical Gardens is actually pretty damn historic and was opened way back in 1891.

Since then though, one of the best parks in NYC has grown in size and now spans an impressive 250 acres, is home to upwards of one million different plants, and contains more than 50 acres of old-growth forest.

So, be sure to visit some of the park’s iconic trails and gardens, like the Azalea Garden, the Children’s Adventure Garden, the Lilac Collection, the Native Plant Garden, the Wetland Trail, the Ornamental Conifers, and more. 

It’s also home to the stuff that photographic dreams are made of since the stunning, Enid A Haupt Conservatory is onsite.

Yeah, it’s basically this incredibly fabulous, Victorian-era iron-and-glass greenhouse that is so awesome, it’s now an official New York landmark.

There are also a ton of events that are routinely held here, like themed walking tours, children’s book readings, film screenings, lectures, and more. 

And if you plan on spending winter in New York City, then be sure to stop by the park’s annual Holiday Train Show. It runs from mid-November through early-January and features a wealth of miniature trains that make their way past various NYC landmarks that are created entirely out of plants. 

Yup, pretty cool indeed. 

Address: 2900 Southern Blvd, The Bronx, NY 10458

Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm; Closed on Mondays

Price: $22 per person

How to get there: As with the address, check here (under transportation) for the easiest transportation method depending on the entry point of your choice.

22. Wave Hill Park

The green, greenhouse door at Wave Hill Public Gardens in The Bronx.

The green, greenhouse door at Wave Hill Public Gardens in The Bronx.

Located in the posh AF Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx, Wave Hill Park is an enchanting 28-acre estate that overlooks the Hudson River and has a whole host of gardens and cultural centers for guests to enjoy. 

So when you’re not totally gob-smacked by the impressive views that surround you, you can always join one of the park’s many events. Some of which include live workshops, themed walks, lectures, contemporary art shows, live performances, etc. 

I mean, there is much going on here that they even have two outdoor art sculptures and three indoor art exhibitions that are just waiting to be explored!

Or, if you want to stick with the simple beauty of nature then take a leisurely stroll through one of the many gardens that abound here, like the Pergola (it’s stunning and exquisitely frames views of the Hudson and Palisades), the Flower Garden, the herb and Dry Gardens, T.H. Everett Alpine House (home to a ton of different plants from mountainous regions), the Wild Garden, the Confier Slope, the Paisley Bed, the Confier Slope, the Marco Polo Stufano Conservatory, etc. 

So yeah, all in all, this is just a really stunning sanctuary of botanical bliss that is always one of the best parks in NYC to visit at any time of year. 

Address: 2900 Southern Blvd, The Bronx, NY 10458 

Hours: Open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm; Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. 

Price: Tickets are $10 for adults, $6 for students/seniors 65+, and $4 for children 6 and over. 

How to get there: Take the 1 train to 231st street station, transfer to the Bx7 Bus, get off at the Henry Hudson Pky E/W 252 St stop, and walk to the park from there. 

23. Pelham Bay Park

A salt marsh and empty boardwalk in Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx.

A salt marsh and empty boardwalk in Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx.

Known for being the LARGEST public park in NYC (seriously, it’s THREE times bigger than Central Park), Pelham Bay Park spans a slightly mind-blowing 2,772 acres.

It also sits along the Hutchinson River and has a whole host of things that you can do, like stop by the Bronx Victory Memorial, enjoy some one on one with time your pooch at the Pelham Bay Dog Run, explore the Huntington Woods, explore the Barlow-Pell Mansion, and make use of the Aileen B. Ryan Recreational Center. 

Heck, there are even tennis courts you can use, as well as playgrounds, bocce courts, two golf courses, and a selection of sports fields. 

And because the park shares 13-miles of shoreline with the Long Island Sound, you can always sunbathe or go for a relaxing dip at Orchard Beach. 

That’s why, if you truly want to go where the locals go, then this is one of the best parks in NYC for you!

Address: Middletown Road & Stadium Avenue, NY 10465 

Hours: Open daily from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm. 

Price: Free!

How to Get There: Take the 4/5 train to 86th street station, transfer to BxM7 bus, get off at the Bartow Av/Co-op City Blvd top, and walk a solid 20+ minutes to the park. 

Best Parks in NYC – Staten Island

24. New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden

The beautiful Chinese Scholar's Garden in Staten Island, NY.

The beautiful Chinese Scholar’s Garden in Staten Island, NY.

Honestly, I HAD to include the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden on this list of the best parks in NYC since it’s just too cool for school. 

I mean, it’s one of just two classic, outdoor, Chinese-style gardens in the entire US. Seriously, how dope is that?

Especially when you learn that it is actually a recreation of a traditional, Ming Dynasty Garden that was first built by no less than 40 Chinese citizens.

Workers who employed only traditional building techniques when creating this complex in Suzhou City, China.

And once the garden was finally done? Welp, it was shipped off to Staten Island, where it stands today with its wealth of rock formations, bamboo forests, lilac trees, charming waterfalls, and swaths of rhododendrons, 

Sprinkle in some Chinese-style pavilions – resplendent with Chinese mosaics, paintings, and calligraphy pieces – and quaint little bridges that take you over idyllic koi-filled ponds, and you have a perfect place for a bit of quiet self-reflection, 

Therefore, If you ever find yourself in good old Staten Island, then be sure to live the quiet life at this quaint little natural sanctuary. 

Address: 1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, New York, 10301

Hours: Open October 1 through April 15 on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. And open April 15 through September 30 Tuesday through Friday from 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.

How to Get There: After getting off the Staten Island Ferry at the ferry terminal, board the S40 board and take it to Snug Harbor. From there, it’s a short walk to the garden.

Price: Tickets are $5 but you also get a combo pass that includes admission to the nearby, Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art.

25. Fort Wadsworth Gateway National Recreational Area

This is one of the best parks in NYC that is totally brimming over with incredible history. 

Because before Fort Wadsworth was permanently closed in 1994, it was actually the longest continually used military base in the country. A place that was routinely used, because of its strategic location, against not-so-nice attacks against NYC.

However, Fort Wadsmorth’s day as an active military outpost are long gone since the 226-acre area along New York Harbor has long since been converted into green space where you can explore the old fort, ride your bike along one of the area’s many bike paths, enjoy one of many walking trails, or savor the view at the park’s scenic Fort Wadsworth Overlook. 

There’s even the Camp Hudson campground where you can spend the night (it has seven campsites and hot showers), as well as the Fort Wadsworth Visitor Center (it contains various exhibits about the history of the fort), and the Mont Sec House (a historic home with authentic furnishings from the 19th century).

That’s why, if you’re looking for a bit of history that is mixed in with a splash of nature, then Fort Wadsworth is the perfect place for you. 

Address: 210 New York Avenue, Staten Island, New York, 10305

Hours: Open daily from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm. 

Price: Free!

How to Get There: Take the Take the S51 from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal to the park entrance on Bay Street.

A Free Interactive Map of the 25 Best Parks in NYC!

 

Welp, that’s all she wrote folks!

Because that just about wraps up my super-comprehensive guide to 25 of the best parks in NYC!

Tell me, did your fave make the list? If not then let me know in the comments below

And be sure to pin this now so that you can read it again later!