The Best Parks in NYC (For Families)
New York City is commonly known as the concrete jungle, but as you may or may not know there are plenty of green spaces around the five boroughs for you and the family to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city streets and enjoy some tranquility. Dive in to some of the best parks in NYC that you and the family can visit on your next trip to the Big Apple!
10 of the Best Parks in NYC
When thinking of New York City, Central Park is likely to be one of the first things that comes to mind. Central Park is the 843 acre green space located in the center of Manhattan between the Upper West and Upper East sides. The park was developed beginning in 1858 and designed by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux.
Throughout the park you will find plenty of open green spaces, ponds, bridges, trails, biking lanes, picnic areas, playgrounds, and a wooded area. Some special attractions you can find in the park include the Central Park Zoo, Belvedere Castle, Cleopatra’s Needle, the Carousel, and in the winter the Wollman Rink.
Bryant Park, known as one of the best parks in NYC, is located in Midtown, Manhattan surrounded by office buildings a short distance from Grand Central Station and the NY Central Station. Bryant Park is known as one of the best parks in NYC as it offers the perfect area for a tranquil escape in the middle of busy Manhattan with greenery and seasonal gardens.
Bryant Park is home to one of NYC’s most popular ice skating rink in the winter months and the Winter Village Shops. The park also contains a carousel. Many events and activities take place in Bryant Park, including free movies during the summer and live performances.
Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park is located in Greenwich Village along Fifth Avenue near the NYU main campus in Manhattan. The park was created in 1871. One of the most notable aspects of the park is the Washington Square Arch, which commemorates the inauguration of George Washington as the first US president.
Within the park you will also find a large fountain, the Giuseppe Garibaldi statue, and Hangman’s Elm, a well known tree believed to be the hanging site of criminals. There is also plenty of green space for relaxing and sunbathing, picnicking, listening to musicians playing throughout the park, and chess playing.
Prospect Park is another large green space located in the NYC borough of Brooklyn and it similar to Manhattan’s Central Park. The park is perfect for families looking for a spot to relax, have a picnic, and allow the kids to stretch their legs. The park is home to the Prospect Park lake, which is inhabited by ducks and swans, a small forest, sculptures, tennis courts, benches, and plenty of green space for picnicking.
Within Prospect Park you can find the Prospect Park Zoo, the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, a 1912 Carousel, the Prospect Park boathouse, the seasonal LeFrak Center’s Skating Rinks, the Grand Army Plaza, and Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arches.
Astoria Park, Queens
Astoria Park is a park located under the Robert F. Kennedy and Hell Gate Bridges in the Northwestern corner of Queens that offers views of the Manhattan skyline. The park composes roughly 60 acres of green space, walking trails, and recreational facilities. Astoria Park offers a public pool in the warmer months, a running track, meadows, green space, free movies in the park, a bocce court, tennis courts, playgrounds, and a skatepark.
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
Flushing Meadows is another Queens park that is largely visited by the localsand commonly known as one of the best parks in NYC. Flushing Meadows is the second largest park in the city at 1,255 acres. The park is well known for the Unisphere, which was placed in the park for the 1964 World’s Fair that was hosted within the park.
The park is home to Citi Field, the Arthur Ashe Stadium (tennis), the Queens Botanical Gardens, the Queens Museum, a golf course, and areas for barbequing, picnicking, lakes, and green space for relaxation. The park offers many other outdoor and indoor activities, including skate parks, paddleboat rentals, kayak and canoe launch sites, ice skating rinks, hiking trails, basketball courts, playgrounds, soccer fields, and recreational centers.
The Hills at Governor’s Island
The Hills at Governor’s Island is perhaps one of the newest, but one of the best parks in NYC. Governor’s Island is a 172 acre sitting on the New York Harbor near Manhattan and Brooklyn. The island can be reached via a quick ferry ride from either Manhattan or Brooklyn. The Hills at Governor’s Island are a newly added addition to Governor’s Island’s park. The Hills sit 70 ft. above sea level and stunning and unique views of the Statue of Liberty and surrounding harbor. The Hills offer plenty of walking and biking trails and the popular Slide Hill, which contains four different slides the kids will love.
Riverside Park is a 4 mile long park that stretches along the Hudson River from 72nd Street to 158th Street in Manhattan. Being one of the eight designated scenic landmarks in New York City, Riverside Park is well known as one of the best waterfront parks in the city. It was designed in the 1870’s by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.
Riverside Park is full of open lawns, playgrounds, a walk way along the river, a skate park, sports fields, eateries, trees, public marina, and part of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway bicycle trail. Also found within the park are many historical sights and landmarks, including the Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Monument and Grant’s Tomb.
The High Line
The High Line is more of a walkway than a park, but you will find families relaxing, enjoying the scenery, and even enjoying a picnic along the promenade. The 1.4 mile High Line was recently opened in 2009 and was built along an abandoned railroad track, beginning at Gansevoort St. to 34th Street on Manhattan’s west side. A walk along the High Line offers great views of the Hudson River and many NYC neighborhoods. Throughout the year you can find various temporary art exhibits and pop up food vendors.
Battery Park is located on the Southern most tip of Manhattan with views of NY’s Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The 25 acre park is surrounded by the residential area Battery Park City and the streets near the park are lined with local eateries and shops. Throughout Battery Park you will find many statues and memorials, street performers and craft vendors, gardens, lawns, the Sea Glass carousel, and food trucks. Battery Park is also the location of ferry that leaves for tours of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
BONUS: Coney Island
While not technically a green space in the same way that the other parks mentioned are, Coney Island offers an escape from New York City for families looking to enjoy some old fashioned fun and day trip to the beach. Coney Island is easily accessible via the NYC subway.
Coney Island is a neighborhood in Brooklyn that features classic amusement rides, beaches, an aquarium, street performers, plenty of food options, and playgrounds. Coney Island is made up of two different amusement parks: Luna Park and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. Within the amusement parks you can find classic amusement park rides and games, carnival themed treats, and gift shops for shopping. Directly across from Coney Island and easily accessible is a beach perfect for sand castle building and swimming in the warmer months.
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