Best Parks in NYC


Zoe Poulis, Staff Writer

As NYC slowly starts heating up, its residents will be looking for places to spend time outside in the much-needed sunshine. Being a Cali girl myself, I usually look forward to spending most of my time at the beach during the summer, but since I don’t live a 20-minute drive to the ocean anymore, I’ve had to explore other options.

Whether you’re looking to go on a picnic date or a promenade with your pup or to work on your tan, the concrete jungle has got you covered. NYC is home to over 1,700 parks across all the boroughs—the only hunt is figuring out which one works best for you!

If you’re looking for somewhere that still screams “NYC living,” Madison Square Park might be the place. Located right across from the Flatiron building with plenty of good eats in the area, this park has something for the whole family. There are two different dog runs, big and small, an ideal place to take some smaller apartment puppies to socialize and let off some steam without getting trampled by larger dogs. There’s a reflecting pool, playground, and even a Shake Shack located inside of the park. It also offers a gorgeous view of the Empire State Building which never fails to remind me, “Wow, I live in ~New York~.” To top it all off, most of the time, they have live music next to the fountain for everyone to sit back, relax, and enjoy.

Little Island, located at Pier 55 is a great option if you’re looking for something new and fresh around the city. Little Island combines modern architecture with greenery and appears to be floating over the Hudson. The views are stunning, both on the island itself and overlooking the city skyline. There is a capacity limit, making timed entries necessary, but tickets are free! A highlight of this park is the 700-seat Amph Stage where they hold concerts, performances, and festivals throughout the summer.

*Bonus: it’s located off the coast of the Chelsea Highline which has a very similar vibe with a better opportunity to get some steps in. 

**Extra bonus: Chelsea Market is also right around the corner for all the shoppers and foodies reading.

For those of you wanting to escape the hustle and bustle, Battery Park is what you need. Located in Lower Manhattan, the park sits on the water, facing the Hudson River where Lady Liberty resides. If you’re a bit of a history buff, ferry rides to the island leave directly from the park sailing you over to check out where early immigrants landed before Ellis Island. Another attraction to the park is the new playground recently opened making it a family-friendly environment. Some other highlights located in/near the park are Brookfield Place, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and the World Trade Center. Battery Park also has several gardens and plenty of space to sunbathe and pretend you’re somewhere on a beach. This park has some of the most peaceful vibes for when you really need a break.

On the opposite side of the river, we have Brooklyn Bridge Park (my personal favorite). If you want a gorgeous view of the Lower Manhattan Skyline, this is the one for you! This waterfront park has a lengthy list of events and amenities including “Movies with a View,” volleyball courts, and several restaurants to eat at if you don’t feel like picnicking. This park is also great for getting some physical activity in with all the different courts they offer. If you’re making the trek to Brooklyn, I highly recommend doing a little thrift crawl before hitting the park because we all know they have the best stores. For anyone who wants to get out of Manhattan, but not venture too far, don’t be afraid to wander to Brooklyn.

 And finally, the one we’ve all been waiting for: Central Park. We all know and love her, but there’s still so much to say about NYC’s largest park. Covering 843-acres, this famous landmark is rich in history and has many different sections to visit, each a totally unique experience. There are several baseball fields, ponds, and playgrounds spread out across these areas, along with other noteworthy sites such as Strawberry Fields or the Belvedere Castle. If you want to squeeze in a bit of learning during your visit, the park offers a number of tours from “Women in Central Park” to the “Great Central Park Hike” tour. If you’re into architecture, try taking a peek at some of the bridges located throughout the park, there’s even a Bridge tour if you want to get crazy!

Even if none of these things sound appealing to you, Central Park is one I never get tired of. While there are so many parts to explore, it also serves as a perfect spot to just catch some rays and unwind in places like Sheep Meadow. For all of these reasons, Central Park reigns supreme and guarantees you the ideal New York experience.

Wherever you decide to go this summer, stay safe and have fun!

Some honorable mentions to check out:

  • Bryant Park (the BEST during the holidays)
  • Union Square Park
  • Washington Square Park