New York City Parks

Guide to New York Parks

Although there is enough to see in New York City to keep a person going 24 hours a day, there is also something to be said for stepping back and taking a little break from it all.

Luckily, there are great New York City Parks that are perfect for doing just that. The city has a number of parks that are well-landscaped and beautifully maintained, making city parks attractions in their own right. Another great think about NYC parks is that they are conveniently located in great areas and near tourist attractions. You hardly have to break your sightseeing stride to enjoy them!

Central Park

Central Park is the grandest park of all. This large rectangular park space that dominates much of Upper Manhattan contains woods for bird watching, trails for hiking and running, fields for playing, as well as lakes, bridges, fountains, and monuments. The possibilities for sightseeing and recreational activities are pretty much endless.

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Bryant Park

Bryant Park is a meticulously landscaped park that gets bonus points for its extremely convenient location. This park is right in the middle of many of the city’s most popular tourist attractions and it’s close to some of New York’s hottest shopping spots. It is the perfect place to take a break between sightseeing and other activities.

Bryant Park

Bryant Park is beautifully maintained and well-landscaped throughout the year. A peaceful haven situated between skyscrapers, it is a Midtown treasure. Because its the only park around, it’s a popular spot for meeting and eating. The park also has free WiFi and clean public restrooms.

The lawn in the middle of the park is as long as a football field. On sunny weekdays, thousands of office dwellers spill out from the nearby buildings to get a little fresh air during their lunch break. Tables and chairs are set up seemingly everywhere to accommodate the large crowd.

There are several eateries inside the park (check out the Bryant Park Grill, Southwest Porch, or ‘witchcraft) and others on the streets bordering the park. So pick up your lunch, stake out your table, and dine like a Manhattanite!

It can also be the perfect place to get out your map and plot your next move –  while lounging comfortably in a chair or sprawled out on the grass of course.

Location and Directions

  • The park is on the block between 40th and 42nd Streets and between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. It is behind the New York Public Library.
  • To get there, take the F, V, B, or D train to 42nd Street.

Union Square Park

People come to Union Square Park as much for the quirky atmosphere and eclectic crowds as for anything else. For a park that’s a little less conventional than the rest, check this one out. And don’t be surprised if you see skateboarders doing tricks, a bluegrass band, or a large crowd gathered around a street performer.

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Union Square Park is definitely not a high-end park dominated by well-dressed business people and nannies pushing strollers. Instead, it is a lively and popular hangout for a rather diverse crowd of people. On any given day, the park is likely to have an eclectic mix of musical performers, skateboarders, college kids, hipsters, and religious zealots, as well as businessmen and nannies. It is hard to beat for people watching.

The park has wide tree-covered walkways lined with benches which, although plentiful in number, are at times completely full. Sunbathing and lounging on the grass are also popular activities when the lawns are open.

If you’re looking to bring a picnic lunch or a snack to the park, there is a Whole Foods store right across the street from the south end of the park. There are also plenty of cafes and casual eateries all around the perimeter.

There is a playground at the newly renovated north end of Union Square Park complete with a giant sandbox. A dog run is located on the west side.

Location and Directions

  • Union Square Park is located between Broadway and Park Avenue South and between 14th and 17th Streets.
  • To get there by subway, take the 4, 5, 6, L, N, R, Q, or W train to 14th Street-Union Square.

Battery Park

Battery Park is located at the very tip of Lower Manhattan, so it’s the perfect place to go when you’re sightseeing in the Financial District. This park is right on the water where you can catch great views of the New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty, and boats passing by. It’s also full of monuments and memorials.

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Location and Directions

Battery Park New York City is located at the very southern tip of Manhattan.

To get there:

  • By subway, take the 4 or 5 train to Bowling Green, the R or W train to Whitehall Street, or the 1 train to South Ferry.
  • By bus, take the M1, M6, or M15 bus to South Ferry.

Read more in our Battery Park Guide

Madison Square Park

Madison Square Park is a great place for a quick rest and maybe a little lunch. You can see both the Flatiron Building and the Empire State Building from the park. It’s a little calmer and less crowded than Bryant Park or Union Square Park. The park’s family-friendly atmosphere and legendary Shake Shack make it even harder to pass up.

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Madison Square Park offers an oasis of calm in an otherwise busy area of central Manhattan. The park is located just south of the hustle and bustle of Midtown and north of the lively Union Square area. The park is right next to the Flatiron Building and is only a 15-minute walk from the Empire State Building. Both famous skyscrapers can be seen from the park.  The Oval Lawn is a big grassy expanse at the center of the park and is a great place to lounge, sunbathe, or picnic. It is also the site of free concerts and performances throughout the summer.

Fun for Families and Kids

With its playground and dog run, this park is a popular place for people to push strollers and walk dogs. It has a family-friendly atmosphere and offers lots of programs and activities, especially during the warm months.

Location and Directions

  • Madison Square Park is located between Madison and Fifth Avenues and between 23rd and 26th Streets. Broadway intersects Fifth Avenue at the southern end of the park.
  • To get there by Subway, take the R, W, or 6 train to 23rd Street.

Final Word

Tip: City parks are also a great place to find public restrooms. What is your favorite New York City park?

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