New York City parks and gardens
For a city as busy as New York, it's still got a lot of 'Green'

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The City of New York Department of Parks & Recreation produces many special events, including concerts and movie premieres. In the summer, the busiest season, the agency organizes free carnivals and concerts, and sends mobile recreation vans to travel throughout the five boroughs providing free rental equipment for skating, baseball, and miniature golf. If you happen to be in New York, make sure you include some time to enjoy the green spaces. Here is a selection of our favourites.
Central Park, a huge rectangular slice of oxygenating greenness, is New York City's lungs and soul. Taking up a mammoth 843 acres (341 hectares) in Uptown Manhattan, Central Park is laced with walkways, jogging paths, and woodlands. Not just a place for relaxation, Central Park is also home to a zoo, skating rink, theater, reservoir, boating lake, fountains, bridle paths, and a carousel. If you’re feeling peckish after all that activity, drop into the Loeb Boathouse for a buffet brunch or dinner. Popular photo stops in Central Park include the Alice in Wonderland and Balto the Malamute statues, the Belvedere Castle atop Vista Rock and the John Lennon memorial gardens at Strawberry Fields, opposite Lennon’s former home in the Dakota apartment building.
Located between 40th and 42nd Street and Fifth and Sixth Avenues, Bryant Park encompasses 9.6 acres of public green space and recreation. For those looking for a respite from the bustling city, Bryant Park provides a relaxed atmosphere with historical monuments, colorful flower beds, London plane trees, the 300-foot lawn and the Southwest Porch lounge where you can relax on rockers and swings and enjoy free wireless. Play games like chess, backgammon and ping pong or get a free petanque lesson Monday through Friday from 11am to 6pm. For something whimsical, Bryant Park also features a timeless carousel. In the winter, the park is full of festive cheer with an ice skating rink as well as a makeshift village of “streets” lined with artisanal holiday shops. And no matter what time of year it is, visitors can enjoy quality food and drinks in the park. While Bryant Park Grill features American cuisine and a rooftop for aerial city views, Bryant Park Cafe is an informal outdoor cafe.
Once an elevated railway, the abandoned space was converted into an innovative urban park that is now the High Line. Stretching from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street between 10th & 11th Avenues, the lifted park features greenery, gardens, bird houses, interactive art, innovative furniture, cafes and views of the city and Hudson River. The types of exhibits you may see in the park include tin and mirror sculptures reflecting the surrounding nature, sound installations that transport you to the jungle and black and white oval marks that draw attention to areas not usually paid attention to. When you’re finished exploring the gardens and creativity, exit at West 18th Street and grab a bite at Artichoke Basille’s Pizza, one of New York’s highest-quality pizza shops.
Located in the Flatiron District, specifically at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway at 23rd Street, Madison Square is one of New York’s most important and historical squares. This is where you’ll find iconic buildings like the Flatiron Building, One Madison Park and Metlife Tower, as well as the main focus of the square, Madison Square Park. The park runs from Broadway to Madison Avenue and East 23rd to East 26 St Streets, and is a great place to snap photos of the surrounding architecture, admire 19th-century statues and monuments and stroll through the 6.2 acres of tranquil green landscape. Fun fact: This was the original location of Madison Square Garden and a temporary display area for the Statue of Liberty’s right arm and torch from 1876 to 1882. Along with the green space, Madison Square is renowned for being one of the city’s best shopping areas, especially in terms of home design and housewares.
This 550-acre parks is the second largest in New York City and home to a scenic walking, biking and running path where thousands of New Yorkers can run, ride and stroll without having to wait at crosswalks or navigate busy city streets. Epic stretches of greenway meet up with the scenic Hudson River, where travelers can picnic on uninterrupted strips of lush grass or quiet tables nestled onto well-developed piers. In addition to places designed to rest and relax, Hudson River Park boasts plenty of recreational sites as well. The Waterside Park near 11th Avenue and 24th Street houses a massive sports activity center with a playground for kids and basketball courts for adults. Famed Chelsea Piers, with its indoor ice skating rink, soccer fields and driving range is also located off of Hudson River Park.
Located on the southern tip of Manhattan, Battery Park is a 25-acre public park sitting right on the New York Harbor. The attraction is named after the artillery batteries that were once positioned there for protection. When visiting, it’s enjoyable to explore the many gardens, as well as admire the views of the Statue of Liberty and relax on a bench and listen to the water. While Battery Park gives visitors a chance to enjoy the outdoors, it also provides a glimpse into the past. For example, in 1855 the park’s Castle Garden became the world’s first immigrant depot. Additionally, the park also served as the gateway for European newcomers long before Ellis Island existed. Littered around the grounds you’ll also find memorials like the East Coast Memorial that honors the U.S. 4,601 missing servicemen who died during combat in the Atlantic Ocean during WWII and the New York Korean War Veterans Memorial, commemorating military personal who served during the Korean Conflict.
Located at 2900 Southern Boulevard in the Bronx, the New York Botanical Garden encompasses more than a million plants over 250 acres. This includes 50 gardens, 50 acres of native forest and a Home Gardening Center so you can learn how to successfully grow your own plants home. No matter what time of year it is, you’ll be able to unique plants blooming according to the season. Make sure to grab a free map at the entrance so you don’t miss anything of interest. Some of the many other highlights of the grounds include a 37-acre conifer collection, a delicate assortment of over 200 pink and white Cherry Blossoms, a Rock Garden featuring unique stones, ponds, waterfalls and a colorful alpine flowers, and a forest split by New York City’s only fresh water river, the Bronx River, with scenic canyons and rapids. Before leaving, you can browse the Shop in the Garden for gardening-themed gifts and souvenirs.
A branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), The Cloisters is a museum and gardens dedicated to medieval art. The name of the attraction, which opened to the public in 1938, comes from five medieval cloisters, all of which are woven into the museum’s design. Along with strolling through the gardens, visitors can take in paintings, tapestries, chapels, carvings and halls designed for different periods. For example, while The Late Gothic Hall showcases 15th century limestone windows and altarpieces from Germany, Italy and Spain, The Romanesque Hall features stone portals from 12th and 13th-century French churches. For those who want a more in-depth experience, opt for an audio guide and listen to interviews with educators, curators and conservators, as well as some Medieval music for an immersive experience.

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