Anchored by the stately New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue, Bryant Park is the charming and beloved grassy oasis in the heart of midtown. It may not be as grand as Central Park, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in tulips and daffodils, French baroque lanterns, a leisurely mid-day attitude and games and activities for all ages.
There are things to see in Bryant Park on every corner. It’s the perfect location for a picnic, especially with provisions from Maison Kayser boulangerie on 40th Street. Pick a spot on the football-field-sized lawn at the center of the park. During the summer, movie nights, Broadway performances and yoga classes make the lawn a hub of activity.
In colder months, the grassy lawn gives way to one of the city’s most popular ice skating rinks, and the plaza near the fountain transforms into the Bryant Park Winter Village. One of the best holiday markets in the country, the winter village sells artisanal New York souvenirs, baked goods and hot chocolate.
There’s also great people-watching along the perimeter promenades, where city dwellers have been strolling for more than 150 years. Other pastimes in Bryant Park include an outdoor reading room and ping pong tables along the north side, chess and backgammon on the west side, a whimsical merry-go-round along the south edge and a pétanque court (similar to bocce ball) on the northwest side. Come summertime, the great lawn becomes a massive yoga studio with weekly classes.
The venerable New York Public Library marks the park’s eastern boundary. It is a bookworm’s dream, and recently emerged in all its marble glory from an elaborate multimillion-dollar refurbishment.
After exploring Bryant Park, The Knickerbocker Hotel is just a block away on 42nd Street.