10 Best Parks in New York City

One of those little pleasures to enjoy in the Big Apple is strolling through its parks and gardens. What are the 10 must-see parks in New York? Read on!

Isabel Catalán

Isabel Catalán

10 min read

10 Best Parks in New York City

Central Park in autumn | ©Andrea Belussi

When you think of all there is to do and see in New York, you think of skyscrapers surrounded by asphalt and heavy, chaotic traffic, but nothing could be further from the truth!

Although it may not seem like it, it's also a place that hides a multitude of green parks and gardens where New Yorkers come to retreat to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the world, and there are impressive places beyond the legendary Central Park! Get ready because you'll want to step on them all!

1. Central Park, the legendary New York Park

A day in the sun in Central Park| ©Hellotickets
A day in the sun in Central Park| ©Hellotickets

Central Park is almost as famous as New York City itself, so it's inevitable that it opens this post. Its name will ring a bell as you've seen it reflected on many occasions in films, but a trip to the Big Apple is the best time to see for yourself if it has a well-deserved reputation.

And I'm telling you, it really does! The scenery in Central Park is beautiful and nature is on full display. It is the perfect place to spend a day in the open air and take advantage of the opportunity to take a beautiful photo on foot or on a bicycle tour, which is also available.

Best time to visit

The best time for this is spring and autumn, when temperatures are milder and the blossoming or changing colour of the leaves on the trees takes place. However, don't rule out visiting the park in winter because it is also charming to see it all frozen and you can also skate on Wollman Rink if you go to New York at Christmas.

Remember that this is the largest urban park in the city, so I advise you not to spend your energy on seeing it in its entirety and to get a general overview so you can spend time on other plans.

  • Address: Between Fifth and Eighth avenues and 59th and 110th streets
  • How to get there: By underground with lines 5, 6, 7, A, B, C and D.

Rent a bike in Central Park

2. High Line, New York's hippest park

Strolling along the High Line| ©Hellotickets
Strolling along the High Line| ©Hellotickets

Of all the parks in New York, the High Line stands out in a special way for being one of the most original and modern. For me, it has become one of the must-see places to explore in the city for its beautiful views and its mix of art, nature and architecture.

It is one of the last tourist attractions to open to the public in the Big Apple, having been completed recently on a former elevated railway line. The area has been transformed from a dreary, industrial look to an orchard filled with plants, flowers and trees.

It's also a park where there's plenty to see, from the upscale Hudson Yards neighbourhood and the art galleries of the Meatpacking District to the designer buildings and skyscrapers of The Spur and the street art of Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra.

Best time of year to visit

Bundle up and head out any time of year, even if it's cold. It's not a park that draws attention just for its greenery, but for its "floating" structure and its views over the river and the Big Apple, with the new skyscrapers now rising in Manhattan.

  • Address: Between Gansevoort St. and 34th St.
  • How to get there: By underground: 34th St - Hudson Yards

3. Bring out your cultural side at Bryant Park

Bryant Park in the heart of Manhattan| ©Michael Hutchinson
Bryant Park in the heart of Manhattan| ©Michael Hutchinson

In the heart of Manhattan's bustling Midtown you'll find Bryant Park, a small oasis where New Yorkers and tourists alike flock in search of a bit of peace and nature in the middle of the asphalt jungle.

Unlike Central Park, this is one of the smallest parks in the Big Apple but also one of the most beloved because there's always something interesting to see and do here, no matter if it's hot or cold.

Best time to visit

For example, in summer you can visit Bryant Park to bring out your cultural and fun side with activities such as concerts and the outdoor classic film festival, the reading corner, board games or free yoga, tai-chi and dance classes.

In winter, on the other hand, you can go skating on the ice rink or have a hot chocolate at the Christmas market.

Bryant Park has a little bit of everything for a different and entertaining time on your trip to New York.

  • Address: On 42nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, near Times Square.
  • How to get there: By underground on the B, D, F and M lines (42nd St/Bryant Park stop) and line 7 (5th Ave stop).

4. Watch the sunset in Battery Park.

An afternoon snack in Battery Park| © JJBers
An afternoon snack in Battery Park| © JJBers

A stroll through Battery Park is definitely a must-do during your trip to New York as this beautiful park south of Lower Manhattan is very popular for its wonderful unobstructed views of the Statue of Liberty.

Most people go to the boardwalk to enjoy the sunset over New York Harbor but many also take a ferry to Liberty Island or Staten Island to get a closer look at the iconic landmark as the boats depart from Battery Park.

I recommend you check it out after a tour of Ground Zero or the Financial District and take the opportunity to relax on a bench surrounded by nature or have a picnic on the grass. Battery Park is the perfect place to relax!

But if you're looking for a bit of action, you can also do other activities such as cycling, take a guided tour of Castle Clinton or visit the Museum of Jewish Heritage. In the post What to see and do in Battery Park I give you more ideas to make the most of your visit.

Best time to visit

Whatever time of year it is, visit in the morning. Being close to the Financial District, this area is very lively during the day and will allow you to make other plans in the surrounding area after your visit. In the evening or at dusk it is much less crowded and being so close to the water, the humidity makes the wind chill much cooler.

  • Address: South of Lower Manhattan
  • How to get there: By underground on lines 4 and 5 (Bowling Green)

Book an express cruise to Statue of Liberty

5. Washington Square Park, a movie park

Washington Square Park| ©Hellotickets
Washington Square Park| ©Hellotickets

This is another of New York's parks that you'll be familiar with from having seen its famous Arc de Triomphe on several occasions in the movies. You'll find it in Manhattan in Greenwich Village.

Washington Square Park is not one of the largest parks but it is one of the most atmospheric as it is always full of people listening to live music, relaxing on the grass, playing chess or cooling their legs in the large fountain that adorns it.

And if you're passing through Washington Square Park, it's also a good place to take a quick lunch break as there are plenty of food carts.

Best time to visit

I recommend visiting in summer when the days are longer and you want to spend more time outdoors or in winter when a beautiful Christmas tree is put up here and a Christmas carol concert is held on Christmas Eve.

  • Address: Washington Square, New York, NY 10012
  • How to get there: By underground on the A, B, C, E, F, M lines (W 4th Station - Wash Sq.) and the N, Q, R, W lines (8th Street Station).

6. Governor's Island, a large park accessible by ferry

Aerial view of Governor's Island| ©Mary and Andrew
Aerial view of Governor's Island| ©Mary and Andrew

Formerly only open to visitors between May and October, this island in New York Bay will be open all year round from 2021 to the delight of New Yorkers and especially tourists who have less time to enjoy it.

Governor's Island is full of lawns and gardens, so it's another of New York's great parks to visit for a different kind of fun time.

This spot between Manhattan and Brooklyn is reached by ferry and when you disembark you'll find there's plenty to do.

Best time to visit

If you want to make the most of all the activities on offer, go in summer or spring: from photographing and gazing at the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline at The Hills, to cycling, giant water slides, kayaking, sunbathing in the hammocks at Hammocks Grove or feasting on food from the food trucks that are set up here, you'll love the experience!

  • Address: New York Bay
  • How to get there: Every day the ferry departs from the Battery Maritime Building, located at 10 South Street in Lower Manhattan.

7. Head to Prospect Park to see the native flora of old New York

Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York| ©Tyler Goodell
Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York| ©Tyler Goodell

On the other side of the East River you can visit Prospect Park, which is considered to be the Central Park of Brooklyn. Coincidentally, it was designed by the same landscapers as Manhattan's famous park, but they chose to give it its own identity while maintaining its wild look and in some areas the native flora was left intact.

So if you want to see what New York's forests looked like before they were transformed into a big city, Prospect Park is a great place to go.

Like the other parks in the Big Apple, this one is also bustling with people strolling, playing sports or having a picnic. Some of its most famous spots are Long Meadow, the zoo and the large man-made lake where you can watch the ducks swim by.

Best time to visit

If you want to explore this park, I recommend going in the morning to make the most of the day and then visit other nearby attractions such as the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Greenwood Cemetery or the Brooklyn Museum.

  • Address: 95 Prospect Park West Brooklyn , NY 11215
  • How to get there: By underground, B and Q lines (Prospect Park Station)

8. Learn about nature at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Brooklyn Botanic Garden| ©NYC Go
Brooklyn Botanic Garden| ©NYC Go

Brooklyn Botanic Garden is one of those places I love in New York when you're looking for a bit of calm and escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is part of the Prospect Park complex and is located just steps away from the Brooklyn Museum in the historic Park Slope neighbourhood.

If you love nature, the botanical garden is a great place to unwind. It's full of meadows where you can lie down for a while to rest, read a book or look at the plants and flowers grown here in the Greenhouse, Shakespeare Garden or Japanese Garden.

Best time to visit

Autumn and spring are good times to come here as your senses will be filled with aromas and colours. Admission is free on Fridays before noon and in winter every weekday.

After your visit you can take a tour of Brooklyn and explore other interesting sites such as the Brooklyn Museum, the Public Library or the traditional Brooklyn brownstones.

  • Address: 990 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225
  • How to get there: By underground on lines 2 and 3 (Eastern Parkway-Brooklyn Museum)

9. Columbus Park, the authentic face of Chinatown

Community Gathered at play in Chinatown's Columbus Park| ©Juan Di Nella
Community Gathered at play in Chinatown's Columbus Park| ©Juan Di Nella

Chinatown is an essential place to visit during a trip to New York and your first port of call is Columbus Park, the largest park in the neighbourhood and the usual meeting place for members of the Chinese community.

So if you're looking to discover the most authentic side of Chinatown, a visit to Columbus Park is a must. It is common to see locals gathering there every morning to play a few games of mahjong, practice a little tai chi or play traditional music. The community's willingness to keep their customs and culture alive is to be admired.

As well as seeing Columbus Park you can take the opportunity to visit other places in Chinatown such as the Kimlau War Memorial which was erected in honour of the Chinese-American soldiers who died in combat. And of course, to try the delicious Chinese cuisine at very reasonable prices.

If you want to know what else you can do in the neighbourhood, don't miss our guide on what to see and do in Chinatown.

Best time to visit

Any time of the day or week is a good idea. The heart of Chinatown is another corner of the city that never sleeps.

  • Address: 67 Mulberry St. Manhattan, NY 10013
  • How to get there: By underground on the 4, 5, 6, J, Z (Brooklyn Bridge - City Hall) and N, Q, R, W (Canal Street) lines.

10. Madison Square Park, an oasis in the heart of Midtown Manhattan

Madison Square Park| ©Hellotickets
Madison Square Park| ©Hellotickets

On your route through Midtown Manhattan you'll find a small, peaceful oasis on your way to the Flatiron Building: Madison Square Park. A park where you can drop in from time to time to get in touch with nature and escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, especially on hot days.

Shake Shack lovers have another good reason to visit Madison Square Park: this park has one of these famous burger joints as well as an area with tables and chairs where you can sit and enjoy a delicious snack before continuing your stroll through the streets of the Big Apple.

Best time to visit

When the weather is nice, Madison Square Park is one of the most popular places to visit in New York. There are always outdoor activities such as concerts, art or photography exhibitions, as this park has an intense cultural programme.

  • Address: The park is surrounded by Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue and 23rd Street and 26th Street.
  • How to get there: By underground on the R, W and 6 lines (23rd Street Station).