The 9 Best Places to Enjoy Nature in NYC
By Danielle Zickl, Contributing Writer, July 8, 2016
Whether you’re going for a run, working on your tan, admiring the sunset, or just people watching, summer is the perfect season to spend time outside. Though all that may come to mind are tall buildings and crowded streets and sidewalks, you definitely don’t have to leave NYC to experience the great outdoors. Here are the best places to enjoy nature in the five boroughs.
334 Furman St., Brooklyn
This 85-acre park on the Brooklyn side of the East River boasts one of the best views NYC has to offer. People of all ages will enjoy the movie screenings, sports clinics and fitness classes, concerts, and countless other events the park has to offer. Not to mention, its buildings, benches, and other amenities are made from recycled materials to benefit the environment.
2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx
The New York Botanical Garden hosts garden exhibitions, family activities, live music, cooking demonstrations just to name a few. It’s also leading the way in educating more than 300,000 people each year about ecology and healthy eating, and it has one of the largest plant research programs in the world. The garden’s 250 acres truly offer refuge from the city’s fast-paced way of life.
Prospect Park W., Parkside Ave. between Flatbush Ave., Ocean Ave., and Prospect Park SW, Brooklyn
Does your perfect day include having a picnic, playing some tennis, going for a bike ride, feeding animals at the zoo, or taking a spin on the carousel? If so, you need to head over to Prospect Park as soon as possible. It’s also pretty cool that the park is home to the borough’s only forest.
700 Rockland Ave., Staten Island
With 2,800 acres, the Greenbelt is the largest of NYC’s parks and is dedicated to education, conservation, and research. From golfing to hiking, the Greenbelt has something for everyone. There’s even a six-week-long summer camp where children as young as 3 years old can learn about nature as it is today and what it was like in the past.
304 Cross Bay Blvd., Queens
If your ideal nature walk consists of turtles, frogs, butterflies, and horseshoe crabs, the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge should be on your list of places to visit. It’s not everyday you can see these critters in the city, so kick back, relax, and keep your binoculars handy in case you want to get a close-up view of one of the 300 bird species that migrate here.
Rockaway Beach Blvd., Queens
What’s better than spending a day at the beach? You can unwind by snoozing in the sun or taking a yoga and meditation class, or if that’s too low-key, you can always get a volleyball game going or head down to Campfire Fridays. Whichever option you choose, you definitely won’t regret it.
From 59th St. south to Battery Park, Manhattan
With multiple boat entrances, you can break out your kayak and hit the open water at Hudson River Park. (Don’t worry—you don’t actually have to own a kayak!) And if you’re not a boat person, there’s still plenty to do, from trapeze lessons to playing fetch with your canine pal.
Between Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York Harbor
Take the ferry to Governors Island and spend the day doing everything from mini golf to going on a bike ride to just having lunch and taking in the sights. There are even festivals for every interest—unicycles, poetry and storytelling, music, and much more. So if you find yourself looking for a fun way to spend the day, there’s never a shortage on things to do here.
59th St. to 110th St. from Central Park West to 5th Ave., Manhattan
Would a list of best places to enjoy nature be complete without Central Park? It’s easily the most recognizable NYC park throughout the world, and for good reason. You can roller blade or paddleboat, or you can check out Strawberry Fields or the Alice in Wonderland statue. It’s not unusual to see people laid out on blankets in one of park’s many grassy areas either—whatever floats your boat, so to speak.