The Best Parks in New York City
It may be known for its soaring skyscrapers, but New York City is so much more than just a concrete jungle. The Big Apple is home to 1,700 parks across its five boroughs, ranging from intimate hideaways to sprawling developments that make you feel like you’re out in the country instead of the heart of the city.
Regardless of the weather or time of year, the best parks in New York City are worth a walk through — and chances are there’s at least one close to where you’re staying!
Central Park is world famous for good reason — the 843-acre park is thought of as New York City’s backyard and welcomes more than 42 million visitors each year. Designed in 1857 by lauded landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the sprawling park offers myriad delights, including a zoo, to discover winter, spring, summer, and fall.
Situated right down the block from The Knickerbocker and behind the New York Public Library, Bryant Park is a welcome escape in the heart of Midtown. Grab a bite to go from Shake Shack or Le Pain de Quotidian, snag a spot on a shaded bench, and enjoy. In the summer, you’ll find a full schedule of free events, activities, and entertainment, while colder weather sees the park transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with an ice rink.
Washington Square Park
Though not nearly as large as the other parks on this list, Washington Square Park still draws in droves of visitors as an iconic gathering place and center of cultural activities in the heart of Greenwich Village. You’ve seen the Washington Arch, a replica of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe, and nearby fountain in countless films…now go see the real thing for yourself!
The High Line
Created from an elevated section of historic railway tracks, The High Line stretches from Gansevoort Street to 34th Street in Chelsea along Tenth Avenue and then curving around Hudson Yards. The picturesque walkway has entrances from street level leading up to the park every few blocks and offers a completely different look at the Lower West Side than if you simply stayed on the street. Take your time strolling along the expertly landscaped path, stopping to admire outdoor sculptures, sit for a while, dip your feet in water features to cool off, and more.
Hudson River Park
Popular for walking, running, skating, and cycling, the waterfront Hudson River Park spans from Battery Park to 59th Street with uninterrupted views of the Hudson River and New Jersey.
On the east side of Harlem, right by Columbia University, the lush Morningside Park is known for its athletic amenities, including softball diamonds and basketball courts, as well as live music events and a bustling farmers’ market on Saturdays.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
From a restored 1920s merry-go-round to sprawling riverside walkways boasting postcard-worthy views of Manhattan, Brooklyn Bridge Park (on the Brooklyn side of the east river) is home to a number of amenities and attractions, plus free programming, especially throughout the summer.
Also designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Prospect Park is like Brooklyn’s version of Central Park. The verdant 526-acre Prospect Park has plenty of wide open spaces to stretch out in the sun for a picnic, as well as impressive woodland areas, and kid-friendly amenities and activities, including the Prospect Park Zoo and LeFrak Center, where you’ll spot kids of all ages roller skating or ice skating depending on the time of the year.
Fort Greene Park
Another Olmstead and Vaux creation in Brooklyn, Fort Greene Park was the borough’s first-ever park and offers a variety of open spaces, meadows, playgrounds, and recreational facilities.
Discover More of New York City
Want to explore even more of the Big Apple? Check out The Knick’s NYC Travel Guide for our curated recommendations of things to do in New York.