Each year, I discover more and more urban parks throughout the city. From large to small, you can’t go far without encountering another fabulous green space. I lived across the street from Central Park for 3 years and was lucky enough to wake up to the largest Urban Playground I’ve ever seen, every day.
Since moving away, I’ve sincerely missed Central Park. For a while I thought I wasn’t going to be able to handle living in a real urban neighborhood. I missed the trees, running the Central Park loop, and most of the all – the peace and quiet that living on the north west side of the Park brought me. After Morningside Heights, I moved to Brooklyn for a year and began to explore Prospect Park. Sadly I was still a mile away from the Park itself and didn’t spend nearly as much time in it as I would have liked to.
Since I no longer lived at the doorstep of a massive green space, I set out to explore the rest of the parks New York had to offer – something I had never really carved out time to do while living so close to Central Park. Sometimes this meant traveling a bit further than anticipated, for example to the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx. The Bronx Botanical Gardens has new exhibits all the time, and over 50 gardens & plant collections. Its grounds are beautiful and worth the trek.
Not all of the city’s parks are green. One of my favorite spots in New York is Washington Square Park. Its pretty iconic and seen in films all over, but that’s not why I love it. I’ve always appreciated how circular the park is, it sends everyone to the same spot as several entrances funnel visitors down the radius of the park to its lively center. I think part of the allure is how hidden it is among such a bustling part of the city. As you stumble upon it, it grabs your attention and literally screams, “hey you, its time for a break! Come sit on the steps of my fountain and look at my arch for a while.” And you always do…. as if it appears at precisely the right moment. Its one of my favorite places for people watching, and lovely at any time of day.
After Washington Square Park, I love The Highline, New York’s newest Urban Park. The Highline sits on an abandoned elevated train line and runs parallel to the Hudson River crossing the neighborhoods of Chelsea & The Meatpacking district. Its high enough, and so close to the river, that the breeze is light but fresh. Zeh and I spent one of our very first dates on the Highline and since, I’ve returned multiple times. Over the summer months they tend to have free live music, as I recently learned while dancing Forro on the Highline with the forrozeiros in NYC! Here’s a map of how to get there, and where to enter: http://www.thehighline.org/about/maps.
Close to my new home is McCarren Park, which is nothing in comparison to the Green space of Central or Prospect Park, but I am always charmed by its amusing dog park. Yep, parks for everyone here in this city!
Some other gems:
- Bryant Park – Midtown, Manhattan.
- Tompkins Square Park – East Village, Manhattan.
- Madison Square Park – Flatiron, Manhattan
- Astoria Park – Queens, New York
- Brooklyn Bridge Park – Under the Bridge, Downtown Brooklyn, New York
- Columbus Park – Chinatown, Manhattan
The thing is, I could keep listing them. They are simply all over this city. So if you live in New York and you’re feeling nature-withdrawal, remind yourself of all New York has to offer. Take advantage of the playgrounds and gardens and those random benches on a triangular patch of green. It’s all around you, if you just look for it. Happy Urban Park Hunting!