For a lot of people, when they think of New York City they think of Times Square – skyscrapers, bright lights, and people hustling across busy sidewalks. A loud, hectic, concrete jungle. And when people imagine things to do in Manhattan, they think of Broadway and shopping. But those who designed the city knew that humans crave, and need, green spaces to be happy! While shopping is great, and broadway is a treat – there’s something special about exploring parks and outdoor spaces. Manhattan is home to some amazing outdoor spaces and in this post, I’ll tell you my favorite NYC parks to visit.*
*Manhattan is a single borough of NYC, but we’ll focus on parks in and around this area as it is perhaps the most frequented borough for travelers.
Central Park – The most well known of all NYC parks to visit
Okay, this one is a given. If you haven’t heard of Central Park – wake up! Perhaps one of the most famous parks in existence, Central Park is a fabulous and extensive park that according to Wikipedia covers 843 acres! That’s huge! And its right in the middle of Manhattan – starting at 59th street and running up between the Upper West Side and Upper East Side to 110th.
You could spend a day, or multiple, exploring all Central Park has to offer. Some free highlights I suggest: the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, the Ramble, the Conservatory Garden, and the Great Lawn (catch a neighborhood baseball game).
Riverside Park to Hudson River Park – An outdoor adventure
The next on the list of NYC parks to visit is really a combination of parks connected by beautiful waterfront walkways and stretching down the west side of Manhattan. Between the Hudson River and the Upper West Side, you’ll find Riverside Park. This is a beautiful park with multiple walkways, great for a stroll with the family.
Continuing south from Riverside Park, you can walk from 72nd through the Riverside South waterfront park to reach the Hudson River Park starting at 59th. The Hudson River Park runs all the way to Battery Park at the southern end of Manhattan.
This long stretch of parks from Upper West to the southern regions of Manhattan is perfect for a bike ride! You can rent a bike at various points along the way and cycle to your heart’s content. There’s no better way to enjoy NYC’s beautiful parks then via bicycle!
The High Line – The most unique of the NYC parks to visit
The High Line is really something special. This park is elevated over the city and built upon an old railway line. Running 1.45 miles in length, it gives visitors a unique inner view of Manhattan from an artistic, green space. Running from the Chelsea neighborhood to 34th street, this makes a great pre or post-brunch walk. Grab a meal in Chelsea, then walk it off as you take in the city from above!
The Battery – See historical views
The Battery is located at the southern tip of Manhattan. This is a great place to enjoy views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the skyscrapers of lower Manhattan. If weather and time are permitting this is also where you can join tours to the Statue of Liberty and more. Enjoy a stroll with your family as you take in the history and immensity of feeling that these views provide. From The Battery you can walk (less than a mile) to the One World Trade Center as well if you wish.
Brooklyn Bridge Park – via the Brooklyn Bridge
Last but not least on my five NYC parks to visit list is Brooklyn Bridge Park via the Brooklyn Bridge. In my mind there is no better way to spend a NYC spring afternoon. Begin by walking over the Brooklyn Bridge! This is an opportunity for great views and photos. The bridge is not super long and has a dedicated pedestrian walkway so don’t worry!
Once you reach the end of the bridge, you will find yourself right outside the Brooklyn Bridge Park. This is a beautiful park with amazing views of Manhattan. There is also great food to be had in the area! Enjoy a slice of pizza at the original Grimaldi’s, then follow up with ice cream from the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. When you’ve enjoyed the park enough, walk back over the bridge to get back to Manhattan.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of Manhattan Parks to visit! This is by no means all NYC has to offer in terms of outdoor spaces, but certainly some of my favorite! Let me know yours! If outdoor spaces are your thing – check out my suggestion for another fabulous park – Stanley Park, Vancouver!