NYC’s Best Destination Parks

Duck on a wall about to enter pond at Rockefeller Duck park


If you're fortunate enough to live right near one of the more than 1,700 public parks and playgrounds that make New York City among the greenest urban areas on the planet well…. then, that's where we'll probably find you this weekend. Yay spring!. But even though New Yorkers all have their favorite neighborhood spots for promenade strolling, bench sitting, sprinkler frolicking, ball playing, dog running–you name, we got it–there are also plenty of destination parks in this town, well worth packing up the crew and getting on a subway to spend an afternoon. Here are a few of our favorites…

Tourists walking the path at Fort Tryon on a sunny day

Uptown NYC Parks

Starting up in the Bronx, Wave Hill is a plant-lovers' heaven, with some 15 different types of gardens open for leisurely wandering or guided tours. This Riverdale gem plays host to classes and activities with views of the Hudson, and the Palisades Cliffs, that are spectacular. In Upper Manhattan, the pick is Fort Tryon Park which, in addition to hosting a very fun Renaissance Festival each fall, also offers wonderful river vistas and nicely under-populated strolling and picnicking grounds. And though it's hard to believe that anything having to do with Central Park could be called "undiscovered", the amazing Conservatory Gardens at 105th and Fifth never seems to attract much of a crowd, making it one of the prettiest, most peaceful locations in the city. Central Park bonus adventure: take a walk through the North Woods, just past Lasker Rink heading west, which has an improbable waterfall and so many trees that you literally can't see a single building. 

Young girl in pink shirt tries to launch a kit near Brooklyn Bridge

Downtown NYC Parks

Going downtown, if you have kids the place to visit is lower Hudson River Park, especially around the Pier 25 area, which has a great little mini-golf course, a skate park, a terrific playground, plus, starting again in May, a beautiful old lighthouse tender (it's a kind of ship), the Lilac, on which you can explore. Keep going south and you'll hit the grassy lawns of Rockefeller Park (talk about spectacular views!), which also hosts many of the River to River concerts in the summer. And don't miss Teardrop Park, tucked away just across the street and home to one of the best slides in the city. Finally, one of my favorite newly developed spots is Brooklyn Bridge Park, from the cool playgrounds of Pier 6 and playing fields/BBQ grills of Pier 5 (and Fornino's rooftop pizza joint and Ample Hills ice cream stand, respectively) to the free kayaking at Pier 2 and rolling lawns of Pier 1.  

Kayaker on a lake in Brooklyn parkHave a favorite New York City park? Share it with us!


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