Beyond Central Park: The 9 Best Parks in NYC

When thinking of parks in New York, our attention immediately drifts towards Central Park, that massive block of greenery right in the middle of the city. However, dozens of other parks are sprinkled around New York, all carrying tranquillity and a nature-centred approach to relaxation.

When wandering around a metropolis like New York, it makes sense to seek some peace away from the city noise. Maybe you just want to live the local life for a while, enjoying relaxation and leisure time at these strategic spots. Whatever the reason, here we present you with the best parks in New York other than Central Park.

Violin street performin in Washington square park, one of the best parks in nyc
Washington Square Park is a popular meeting point and space for cultural activities. Photo credit: Josh Appel

Prospect Park, Brooklyn

The same creators of Central Park also designed Prospect Park. In Brooklyn, they had more liberty to work with space without following the limitations of the Manhattan skyline. Prospect Park is a natural and organic environment that makes you forget you are anywhere close to the city.

The park is pretty big, so it will take a while to see everything. In the middle of its extensive greenery, find the Prospect Park Zoo, the lake, and LeFreak Center for boating, biking, and skating. The picnic house is a beautiful architectural piece, hosting weddings and other special events. Maybe you can catch a celebration during your visit.

Large fancy old building sits on the edge of water surrounded by trees in a park

The Bathhouse in Prospect Park, a 585-acre oasis. Photo credit: Tyler Goodell

Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn

At Brooklyn Bridge Park, you may get one of the best views of the Manhattan skyline. What was once an unused piece of land by the water is now one of the most modern and best parks in NYC. Find Jane’s Carrousel and let it transport you back to a 1920’s carnival. Play basketball at any of the many courts, kayak for free, or enjoy an outdoor film with your friends in the summer.

The park is still under development, and each season a new attraction or feature pops up. It is 80 acres of pure excitement, greenery, and exceptional views. There are plenty of playgrounds for children as well.

Small groups of people hang out on a green space by a waterfront with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background
The Brooklyn Bridge Park is a great place to hang out and relax. Photo credit: Marco Lenti

Battery Park, Financial District

As it was the main immigrant port for a long time, Battery Park is an essential park in New York’s history. This is where the people who created the rich multiculturalism of the city first arrived at their new home. Built in the 1850s, the park offers exclusive views of the Statue of Liberty and the New York harbour.

Although relatively small – don’t expect many modern attractions and features – this is one of the best parks in NYC for history lovers. Here you can find the Korean War and the East Coast Work War II memorials, as well as the American Merchant Mariner’s memorial.

Large circular bronze statue in the middle of a busy urban park
This bronze sculpture originally stood in the fountain of the World Trade Center plaza and now stands as a memorial in Battery Park. Photo credit: Tomas Martinez

Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village

Washington Square Park will not take you away from the buzz of the city, but it might allow you to people watch for a while as you rest your legs. With its iconic grand arch right in the middle of the square, the park is famous among NYU university students (they hang out by the fountain in between classes).

The park isn’t too extensive, and you can walk from one corner to the other in less than 15 minutes. However, it makes the shortlist of best parks in NYC since many life and cultural moments unfold in this small space.

Iconic stone arch in Washington Square Park, one of the best parks in NYC
With its lively local flavor, Washington Square Park is one of the best parks in NYC. Photo credit: Simi Iluyomade

Hudson River Park, Chelsea

Stretching from Battery Park to 59th Street, the Hudson River Park is the ideal spot for a summer sunbathing session. Walk, skate, or bike past the grass and gaze at the Hudson River and New Jersey on the other end of it. Kayak down the river and practice different water sports, or simply rest on a bench while enjoying some prime people watching.

There are lots of piers in the park, stretching over the water. Catching that late afternoon breeze may be your new favourite summer activity. The Little Island extension of the park is also noteworthy, an adult playground for you to picnic and stretch your legs.

Small groups of people picnicing on a blanket under trees with the NYC skyline in the background
The Hudson River Greenway is a great spot for a picnic. Photo credit: Mason Dahl

The High Line, Chelsea

The High Line is probably the most unique park on this list. It was built over an old railroad track, an extensive stretch that hovers over the city and runs down the lower west side of New York. There are multiple entrances to the park, and you can hop on and off the path anytime you want.

Inside, in one of the best parks in NYC, you’ll find lots of park benches, food stands, and art-covered walls. Grab a coffee and walk down The High Line; it’s an excellent way to change the scenery from the greyness of the city.

Greenery flanked by urban sprawl in one of the best parks in NYC
Enjoy views of both the water and city from the High Line, one of the best parks in NYC. Photo Credit: Elizabeth Villalta

Insider’s tip: Want to stay at a hotel that overlooks the High Line? We’ve got you covered in our list of boutique hotels in NYC!

Bryant Park, Midtown

Bryant Park is located right behind the New York Public Library, in the city’s business and movement center. Although it’s not exactly a nature retreat, the park is an excellent way to enjoy some entertainment and take a break from walking around New York.

There’s a lot of free entertainment during the summer, where you can listen to music and watch plenty of performances. In the winter, n ice skating rink beckons tourists and locals alike. And the best part? The park has free Wi-Fi, so you can bring your computer and get work done while enjoying the sun.

Two men at an outdoor table chat in the middle of a park
Bryant Park is the perfect place to slow down, enjoy a coffee, and watch New York life go by. Photo credit: Dominik Pearce

Riverside Park, Upper West Side

Riverside Park spans for over four miles, from 72nd to 158th street. Here, you can find the ideal lane for your weekend bike ride or morning run. There are also sports courts and a tranquil ocean view on the waterfront. A skate park invites young adventurers to test their moves, and the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway is a nice dose of culture and history.

The hundreds of trees and extensive greenery make you you forget that you’re even in the city. As the flowers bloom and shade you from the sun, a mid-afternoon nap – complete with the ocean breeze – may be exactly what you need.

Riverside park, one of the best parks in NYC, filled with flowers and greenery in the summer
Visit Riverside Park and you’ll understand why it’s one of the best parks in NYC. Photo credit: Shinya Suzuki

Insider’s tip: Want to see some of these amazing green spaces from above? Check out our list of the best views in NYC!

Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens

Flushing Meadows Corona Park might be a little further away than the others on this list, but it is definitely worth the trip. An hour on the train will take you to the marvellous Queen greenery, where you can find the local zoo, the Queens Botanical Garden, and the New York Hall of Science. There’s also a boating lake, the Citi Field, and a skate zone.

The leading site of the park is its Unisphere, surrounded by beams of water that shoot up from the ground below. There is plenty of space to walk around and breathe the fresh air. A barbecue area is perfect for a family weekend, and playfields are spread around the enormous park.

Huge silver sphere shaped like the earth emerges from behind trees and water fountains in a park in new york
The Unisphere – a 12-story high sculpture of the Earth – was created for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Photo credit: Paul VanDerWerf

Best Parks NYC: One Last Note

New York is not all about the noise and rush – sometimes, a little silence and quiet time are essential to enjoy the best parts of the city. NYC parks mix greenery, space, culture, and history. Whether you want to take a picnic, explore New York off the beaten path, or people watch, the city’s parks will let you stretch your legs and get closer to nature.

On this list, you’ve found some of the best parks in NYC. Keep reading our posts for more information about New York, including where to stay, where to eat, and many other ways to enjoy everything this vibrant city has to offer.