When you think of New York City, the first images that pop into your head probably include honking taxis, massive skyscrapers, people crowding onto subway platforms and a lot of concrete. However, New York City is filled with an array of beautiful green spaces and parks, some obvious and other hidden.
Whether you’re visiting the Big Apple for the first time or have lived in the city for years, these are the parks you must visit at least once.
Sure, this one is by far the most obvious simply because it’s the most famous and the biggest. But there are many unique aspects to the park that the average visitor might not embrace. For example, instead of visiting the famous Strawberry Fields, you can venture to the Central Park Conservatory Garden for a quiet stroll. Another great, underappreciated aspect of the park is its rich history. At around 79th street, you can explore the 1869 Belvedere’s Castle, which has a great view of the park and surrounding buildings. Then you can search for the historic Cleopatra’s Needle, an obelisk from ancient Egypt.
Even if you’re been to Central Park a dozen times, there will always be something new to find or experience.
What Central Park is to Manhattan, Prospect Park is to Brooklyn. The same pair who designed Central Park also designed Prospect Park, but the park in Brooklyn takes more advantage of the natural landscape of the area. The rolling hills and beautiful ponds make it easy to feel like you’re far away from one of the most crowded cities. It’s position along the Atlantic Flyway—along with most other NYC parks—make it a prime birding location to see rare species during fall and spring migration. There are always events and activities to do.
High Line Park
While Prospect Park and Central Park represent the old, High Line Park in Manhattan symbolizes the new. High Line Park is a new park that recycled the elevated track of the New York Central Railroad to make a mile-long urban green space. Before its recent transformation, the High Line was an abandoned area taken advantage by thrill seekers, but now it’s a full-fledged park replete with benches and a diverse plant life. It’s a definite must see.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
If you’re looking for a park with a great view, nothing beats the Brooklyn Bridge Park. Resting along the East River, the park affords breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a great place to take photos or just cuddle with your loved one. It also has a lot of playgrounds for younger kids and a translucent pavilion that houses a merry-go-round.
Washington Square Park
It’s hard to make a list like this without including Washington Square Park. Although not as big as some of the other parks, Washing Square Park has a lot of history and is well known for its activities and events. Some nights you might find a large group of people fighting with fake lit-up lightsabers and other times you can sit down and play a game of chess with enthusiasts. Overlooking the park is the famous Washington Arch.
Tim Martinez is a freelancer and resident of New York City. When he’s not out exploring, he’s writing about birding for the official blog of Backyard Chirper.