There are a ton of things to do in New York City, but sometimes you just want to unwind in a park and take it easy. Thankfully, the 5 boroughs have plenty of beautiful parks to get lost in and relax. Central Park is the most iconic of all, but many other parks have their unique charms. From vast meadows to European-style gardens to shady lakes, there are endless opportunities to people-watch and relax!
1. Central Park
One of the most famous and beautiful parks in the world; Central Park is a must-see for any visitor to New York City. It has plenty to offer: from sports fields and a carousel to waterfront restaurants and miles of woodland paths. When designing Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted, and Calvert Vaux intended it to be a space for all ages. Their plan included large open lawns and organic woodlands, which they hoped would inspire a feeling of being in a rural environment. This massive park is also home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the most popular museums in the country. You could easily spend a full day here and still not see everything!
2. Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park transforms an 85-acre stretch of post-industrial waterfront into a thriving civic landscape. Its design preserves the dramatic experience and monumental character of the formerly industrial waterfront while introducing self-sustaining ecosystems to support new social and recreational possibilities. Piers 1 through 6 offer unique topographies and plantings to mediate a system of new and refurbished connections between the city and the river. The 1.3-mile-long park will eventually become a critical instrument for transforming the urban waterfront.
Piers 1 and 6 offer a variety of amenities, including playgrounds, picnic tables, paved areas, water gardens, and sports fields and courts. The Park’s storm water collection system, which is supported by rain gardens and water-absorbing lawns, aims to dramatically curtail discharge into city systems and lower the chance of combined sewer overflow.
3. Bronx Park
Bronx Park, one of New York City’s largest and oldest parks, is a hub for wildlife conservation and education. It features a world-famous zoo, a botanical garden, and river parks. The Bronx Zoo opened on November 8, 1899, and now encompasses 265 acres (107 ha). It’s the largest urban zoo in the United States. This park is a great place to relax, stroll, and enjoy the natural beauty of the Bronx. It also offers several amenities, including an extensive bike and walking path system. The area surrounding the Lorillard Snuff Mill, a National Historic Landmark, is home to a series of waterfalls. The snuff mill was once the oldest tobacco manufacturing plant in the world.
4. Fort Tryon Park
Located in the borough of Manhattan, Fort Tryon Park is a 67-acre (27 ha) public park. The park is situated on a ridge and has sweeping Hudson River views. The park was designed by the Olmsted Brothers, the firm that created Central Park and other parks in the city. Their design included extensive plantings of different flora in the park’s many gardens, including the Heather Garden. The park has 8 miles of pathways and a formal promenade that includes seating areas and elm trees. The park is also home to the Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that houses nearly 5,000 medieval works.
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5. Prospect Park
Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in the mid-1800s, Prospect Park is one of Brooklyn’s most treasured destinations. It receives more than 10 million visits a year. When Olmsted and Vaux first conceived the park, they believed it would be a place where people from all walks of life, whether they were vacationers or residents, could come together in harmony. Today, the park continues to be a haven for all kinds of people. The park’s natural environment is preserved, its historic design is restored, and public programs are provided by the nonprofit Prospect Park Alliance, which was founded in 1987. The Alliance has refurbished many areas of the park after years of neglect and decline.