My 5 Favorite Green Spaces in New York City

by Anevay Darlington / Dec 02, 2014 / 0 comments

NYC is called many things: the city of lights, dreams, the cultural capital of the world. However, I’ve never heard it being called the city of gardens, nature, or greenery. Which I can understand: NYC is the city of skyscrapers, crowded trains, and traffic jams, but it’s also a city made up of 14 percent green space. If you’re looking for fresh air but don’t want to leave the city, look no further. Here are my five favorite green spaces in New York City.

My 5 Favorite Green Spaces in New York City

Central Park

Central Park is one of the most famous places in NYC, and is an obvious place to go for green. It was opened in 1859, and by the year 1865, the park had 7 million visitors a year. With 843 acres of green space, you can easily spend an entire day there, among the cherry blossoms in the spring, the 25,000 trees, the lakes, and the ponds. There is also a zoo, the Loeb Boathouse where rowboats and kayaks are available for rent, a restaurant that overlooks the lake, and even ice-skating in the winter. There are little popsicle stands all over the park which is a nice treat in the summer, there are huge fields of grass where you can lay a blanket and have a picnic, or close your eyes listening to the birds, parents pushing baby carriages, teenagers running by after each other, and most likely, a musician playing nearby.

Rockefeller Center - view towards Central Park from the Top of the Rock viewing area.

Rockefeller Center - view towards Central Park from the Top of the Rock viewing area. Photo by Al_HikesAZ, Flickr Creative Commons

Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens (BBG) is plant paradise, and has been one of my all-time favorite places in NYC since I was very young. The garden is great for young kids, with a children’s garden that has a lot of fun activities and is close to the entrance/exit so you can visit it on your way in or out. It began with 39 acres reserved for a botanic garden in 1897, and then was founded in 1910 with the name Institute Park. Slowly over the years, everything in the garden today was built on 52 acres with over 10,000 plants. If you go on a Friday, it’s free. They do have a food court, but I’d suggest packing a lunch because the food they provide is expensive. I usually spend the whole day there, walking beneath the magnolia trees, through the fields of bluebells, in the Japanese Garden, and among the roses.   There is so much to see, from the Shakespeare Garden which has all of the plants and flowers that Shakespeare mentioned in his writing, the Bonsai Museum with text panels that explain the care, history and culture of these plants, to the fields of grass with Cherry Trees that seem to go on forever.

Japanese Garden at Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

Japanese Garden at BBG. Photo Anevay Darlington

The Highline

The Highline is one of the coolest parks in the city. It is only 1.45 miles long, but it runs from close to 14th street to 34th street, a beautiful area and near places that you might want to visit in the same day. It was built on an abandoned elevated railroad, which is amazing because you can look over the city while sitting on a bench surrounded by green space. The only downside of the park is the no dog policy, unless it’s a service dog. The Highline isn’t like most parks in the city (i.e., Central Park), as there isn’t much space for running around. It’s a park more for reading a book on a bench, soaking up the sun, taking a little stroll, or drinking a coffee with a friend, which is really nice.

The Highline, NYC

Photo by Wasabi Bob, Flickr Creative Commons

Fort Tyron

Fort Tyron Park is beautiful, overlooking the Hudson River in some parts, and covers 67 acres; you will definitely feel like you’re not in NYC. The park is located in Washington Heights and Hudson Heights. One of my favorite places, the Cloisters Museum, is also in the middle of the park, so that would add to your day - spend a couple of hours exploring the park and then a couple of hours in the beautiful museum that feels like a castle. The park is filled with fields of grass that are great for picnics, and paths surrounded by trees. The park also reminds me of The Lord of the Rings; it gives me an Elvish feeling with soaring arches, narrow stairways made of rock, little cottages in certain place that reminds me of hobbits. A Medieval Festival is also held annually in September, to further the sense of otherworldliness.

Cloisters Museum at Fort Tyron

Photo by Kenneth Dellaquila, Flickr Creative Commons

Wave Hill

Wave Hill, located in Riverdale in the Bronx, is an estate with beautiful houses (that are no longer lived in but instead are open to the public to look at) and a botanical garden. The 28 acres is situated on slopes overlooking the Hudson River and the Palisades, which are beautiful cliffs along the river. It has paths in the woodland part of Wave Hill, gardens surrounding the houses, and a greenhouse with beautiful flowers and plants. The Glyndor House, the oldest house on Wave Hill dating back to 1843, also has an art gallery and hosts a variety of concerts. It’s a beautiful place full of activity, great for walks, and whenever I go I feel like I’m near the green mountains in Vermont.

Wave Hill, NYC

Photo by Jakub Redziniak, Flick Creative Commons

These are my favorite parks, and when I need a day that feels like I’m away from the city, these are great places to go experience flowers, water, and fresh air. After a day in any one of these parks, you’ll be ready to head back in the busyness of city life. Don’t worry, these parks aren’t going anywhere – come back any time!





Anevay Darlington is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program