New York City's Spectacular, Natural Wonderlands – All Just a Subway Ride Away

You’ve scaled the Empire State Building, toured One World Observatory at the Trade Center, bustled your way through Times Square, boarded the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, checked off the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, even glared at your favorite celebrities at Madame Tussaud's, and now you want to breathe. Look no further than the next patch of green on your subway map.

Ask any New Yorker to name his or her favorite park and likely it is one you have yet to visit because inside this vast urban cosmos called New York City are great swathes of verdant meadows, trails, golf courses, waterways and vestiges of native woodlands. Most attractions are free or inexpensive – from Central Park that stretches from 59th Street to 110th Street to vest-pocket parks that offer tiny respites like Father Demo and the Carmine St. Park in Greenwich Village – visit sites for special events year round.

As New York City’s former industrial sites – factories, gantries and railroad tracks  have also transformed into parks that ribbon through the city. Public parks are essential elements of every New Yorker’s life. If it is simply people watching you want to do, come to a New York City park, natives love the spaces and use them year-round. Bryant Park in midtown at 42nd St. for instance, shows films outdoors in summer; in winter the lawn becomes a skating rink.

For the most up-to-date information on events, visit City Parks Foundation and for locating spectacular performances in the city's parks, visit Summerstage.

Brooklyn Bridge Park
Photo courtesy of Julia Smith

Getting there is half the fun when you hope on a ferry to Brooklyn Bridge Park on the East River; subway lines can get you there too. Another example of transforming an industrial site into an 85-acre playground. Wednesday Night walking tours...  Read More

West Village

An abandoned railroad that became a park that enhanced a neighborhood is pretty much what the High Line is all about. Built on an historic freight rail line elevated above Manhattan's west side the High Line runs from Gansevoort Street in the...  Read More

Even if you have never visited Flushing Meadows Corona Park, you've seen its icon – the Unisphere. The site of two 20th century Worlds Fairs that attracted millions of people, this park still lures big numbers, but since it is the largest park...  Read More

On the route of the Atlantic Flyway for the bald eagle, it's an ideal place for migrating birds and visitors to rest, refuel. Once summer arrives, the neighborhood playground known as Thomas Jefferson Park throngs with families when the outdoor...  Read More

Travel five minutes by cab or one stop on the subway for a completely unobstructed view of the world-famous Manhattan skyline. Gantry Plaza State Park is built over yet another intriguing industrial relic of New York City's history, dating back...  Read More

Sixty-six densely forested acres touch the hilly neighborhoods of Inwood, Hudson Heights and Washington Heights. Fort Tryon is opened year round. Capped by The Met Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum that is an ensemble of medieval...  Read More

The Flatiron district was once associated with the Toy business but that industry has largely moved overseas; it is now referred to as the Photo District as so many photographers' studios are nearby. Located in the evolving Park Avenue South...  Read More

Upper East Side
Central Park
Photo courtesy of JaysonPhotography/iStock

The 800-acre Central Park burst out of the minds of urban visionaries like Frederic Law Olmstead. Joggers, nature lovers and bikers use the park daily. Kids young and old enjoy skating at Wollman Rink, visiting the Central Park Zoo, and riding...  Read More

Van Cortlandt Park

Giddy up to Van Cortlandt Park in the northwest Bronx to the Riverdale Stables, walking trails average about 1.5 miles. One of four city parks designated a Natioanl Audubon Society Bird area, take a guided Bird Walk. Discover the last vestiges...  Read More

Financial District

The 25-acre waterfront is the cradle of New York history, the front lawn of the Downtown district, and the hub of harbor access. The Battery is where New York City all started as the Dutch settlers established New Amsterdam. The Battery houses...  Read More


Meet Maria Lisella

No matter how many countries Maria Lisella has visited (62), this native New Yorker finds the world at her doorstep in amazing Queens where its residents speak 138 languages.

Maria writes...  More About Maria

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