Discover the Best Parks in New York City

By Go City Expert

The best parks in New York – what not to miss!

by Mia Russell

New York, New York! The city that never sleeps may conjure images of a concrete jungle full of skyscrapers, but it’s also home to some beautiful parks and green urban spaces. Nestled along the Hudson River and tucked between towering buildings, the city’s parks offer a tranquil refuge from the continuous hustle and bustle of the city.

There are over 1,700 parks spread around the five boroughs, each with its own character and charm. From the exquisitely landscaped, sprawling beauty of Central Park to the neat High Line on the Lower West Side, New York’s parks are cherished gems that provide a quiet oasis in the heart of the city.

Whether you are looking for a place to walk your dog, do some exercise, enjoy a picnic, or simply take in the fresh air, these parks offer all that and much more. Head outdoors with this list of the best parks in New York City.

Central Park, Manhattan

One of New York’s most recognized attributes, Central Park is the lush green heart of Manhattan. Designed by the award-winning landscape architect team, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the park spans 843 acres and is home to everything from a lake to an ice-skating rink.

You could spend days in the park without seeing everything. Hike the winding trails amidst rocky streams in the 38-acre wilderness area known as the Ramble. Rent a rowboat from the picturesque Loeb Boathouse and spend a few hours paddling on the lake. If you prefer someone else to do the work, enjoy a gondola tour followed by lunch at the boathouse.

Rent a bike and explore Central Park on two wheels! Use your pass to rent a bike from Central Park Full Day Bike Rental, along with a helmet, a bike basket/bag, a bike lock, and a map of the park.

Spread a blanket at Sheep's Meadow and enjoy a picnic while watching the world go by and wander through Strawberry Fields in search of community theater troupes rehearsing Shakespeare. Explore the historic Belvedere Castle, visit the world-renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art, and go wild at the Central Park Zoo.

The park also hosts major events like the New York City Marathon, Shakespeare in the Park, and outdoor SummerStage concerts where you can dance the night away under the New York sky.

Riverside Park, Upper West Side

For spectacular sweeping views down the Hudson River, Riverside Park in the Upper West Side is the park to be. Stretching for four miles along the Hudson River from 72nd to 158th Streets, this scenic waterfront park is home to stately trees and sloping lawns, and unrivaled views of the city skyline and the river.

Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, of Central Park fame, Riverside Park has loads to do from meandering bicycle paths on the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway to tennis courts and a skate park. Children’s playgrounds are peppered throughout the park, as well as some of New York’s finest monuments like the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument and Grant’s Tomb.

Grab a delicious picnic pack from Perfect Picnic with your pass and spend a few hours relaxing in Riverside Park, eating great food and soaking up the beautiful river views.

Prospect Park, Brooklyn

Another Olmsted and Vaux marvel, Prospect Park is the crown jewel of Brooklyn. Sprawling across 585 acres in Brooklyn, the park is flanked by some of Brooklyn's most historic neighborhoods with beautiful old brownstone houses that have been standing for over a century.

A tranquil oasis in the heart of Brooklyn, the park is home to a 60-acre lake and beautiful landscapes with stately trees like the Nethermead and Long Meadow. Iconic landmarks such as the 1857 Litchfield Villa, the Grand Army Plaza, the Picnic House, and the magnificent Boathouse on the Lullwater.

You’ll need a few hours to explore and enjoy all that the park has to offer. Take a pedal boat ride on the lake and wander around the Prospect Park Zoo. Stroll through the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Use your pass to get free entry into the gardens!

Go roller skating or ice skating at Lakeside and catch a summertime show at the Prospect Park Bandshell.

If you haven’t had your fill of spectacular greenery, pop into the nearby New York Botanical Garden to see some incredible fauna and flora. Wander around the old-growth Thain Family Forest and admire the stunning designs of the herbaceous and mixed borders in the Jane Watson Irwin Perennial Garden.

Get lost in the Arthur and Janet Ross Conifer Arboretum and smell the roses in the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden. Don’t forget to use your pass to get free entry into the New York Botanical Garden.

Bryant Park, Midtown West

Tucked behind the New York Public Library, Bryant Park is the beating cultural heart of Midtown Manhattan. Located on 42nd Street and surrounded by buildings, this 9.6-acre park is a well-cultivated retreat where New Yorkers gather at any time of day.

Lovely lawns and tall, shady trees make this the perfect spot for escaping the office or taking a break from sightseeing for a breath of fresh air. Bryant Park is a mecca for arts and culture and hosts a dizzying array of engaging activities and events throughout the year.

Join a free yoga, tai-chi, and dance class in the park, or enjoy a game of boules or Kubb (Scandinavian lawn bowling). Relax over a board game and take in a movie at the outdoor classic film festival on Monday nights in summer. Enjoy free wireless access around the park.

Winter brings wonderful offerings to the park like the pop-up Bank of America Winter Village and an ice-skating rink. Don’t miss having a photo at the mythical Bryant Park Fountain with its curiously shaped icicles.

Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village

Washington Square Park is the symbolic heart of Greenwich Village. Marking the park’s north side entrance is the iconic white Washington Arch, honoring George Washington, and making the park one of New York city’s most recognizable public spaces.

The park has long been a hotbed for counterculture and creativity from a gathering place for the Beatnik movement and the hippies, and today, avant-garde artists and students from NYU.

There’s always something happening in the park from diehard chess enthusiasts battling it out in the corner to a dance group performing in front of the arch. Lounge on the grass and listen to musicians play their tunes; eat lunch on the steps of the fountain and watch street artists perform.

Why not use your pass to visit Washington Square Park and explore the surrounding neighborhood on a Greenwich Village Walking Tour ?

Enjoy a two-hour guided tour of the ‘birthplace of American Counter-Culture’ where you’ll visit Washington Square Park, discover film locations (Friends and Mozart in the Jungle), and learn about the area's famous residents like Edgar Allan Poe and John Wilkes Booth.

The High Line, Chelsea

From a disused railroad track to one of the top attractions in the city, the High Line in Chelsea is a much-loved treasure. Stretching from the Meatpacking District to the Hudson Rail Yards, the 1.5–mile long public park was built on an abandoned elevated railroad high above the streets below.

This verdant floating garden passes through some of New York City's most historic neighborhoods in the Lower West Side of Manhattan.

Enjoy a High Line, Chelsea & Meatpacking District Walking Tour with your pass! Begin at the trendy Chelsea Market where you can sample some of New York’s gourmet goodies.

Head up to the High Line and meander along the pedestrian walkway, passing tranquil pools and modern sculptures. Take in the art installations and admire some of New York's most famous buildings, including the Empire State Building and Frank Gehry’s IAC Building.

Explore the regentrified Meatpacking District, an industrial area that was transformed into one of New York’s most affluent neighborhoods. Learn about the legends of Death Avenue and the tales of the West Side Cowboys.

If you have the time, use your pass to pop into the world-renowned Whitney Museum of American Art to see some amazing artworks.

Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn

Nestled beneath New York City's oldest suspension bridge, Brooklyn Bridge Park is an idyllic spot for escaping the crowds and soaking up some beautiful views over lower Manhattan. With the iconic New York skyline as a background, the park is a popular spot for enjoying outdoor activities like basketball, football, and volleyball.

Use your pass to rent a bike from Brooklyn Bridge Bike Rental and explore the park and the beautiful bridge.

Enjoy a leisurely ride along the scenic, waterfront greenway, and admire innovative artworks woven into the natural landscape of the park. Expansive green lawns are perfect for picnicking, and a water play area offers cool respite from the city heat in summer.

Ride the beautifully restored 1920s Jane’s Carousel or rent a kayak and hit the Hudson. Hop on the seasonal ferry at Pier 4 to visit nearby Governors Island, which has its own share of green space to explore.

The Hills at Governors Island, Governors Island

Escape from the non-stop hum of New York with a short trip to the green oasis of Governors Island. A quick ferry ride from Brooklyn takes you to the shores of this peaceful isle where you’ll find lush green hills offering breathtaking city views.

The once abandoned military base in New York Harbor was transformed into a magnificent park where city dwellers can escape to enjoy outdoor recreation. Designed to pay homage to the lush, hilly landscapes of pre-colonial Manhattan, the island features four man-made grassy knolls boasting panoramic views of the harbor.

Use your pass to rent a bike from Surrey Bike Rental and explore the island. Pedal around the 172-acre isle and take in the spectacular sights.

Check out the art installations dotted around the island including Day is Done, the Cabin sculpture, and Yankee Hangar. Delve into the island’s military past at Fort Jay and Castle Williams and get your hands dirty at the Island’s Urban Farm.

Take in the breathtaking views of the New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Lower Manhattan skyline. When you’re done, head to Hammock Grove or Picnic Point for a laid-back picnic.

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MoMA Opening Anniversary

[caption id="attachment_1293" align="aligncenter" width="390"] Museum of Modern Art | MoMA[/caption] MoMA Widely regarded as one of the great art museums that the world has to offer, the Museum of Modern Art is a treasure in New York City. On May 10th of 1939, the museum opened the doors to its new permanent home at 11W 53rd Street. Prior to this, the museum had been renting space from the Heckscher building which is now The Crown Building located at 730 5th avenue. The move was very necessary for the MoMA as they continued to grow and collect more pieces of modern and contemporary art. However there were still plans of improvements and additions to be made to the museum. Additions In 2006, the Japanese architect and designer Yoshio Taniguchi put together a design that would add 630,000 square feet to the MoMA’s building. This gives the museum a very spacious feel, allowing you to enjoy each piece as you walk from one exhibit to the next. The extra space in the museum also comes in handy for one of the most popular museums in the world being that they receive so many visitors throughout the year. In 2015 the Museum of Modern Art welcomed north of 3 million guests who stopped by to admire their collection. [caption id="attachment_1295" align="alignleft" width="500"] Museum of Modern Art | @themuseumofmodernart[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1296" align="alignright" width="500"] Museum of Modern Art | @themuseumofmodernart[/caption] Collection Over the decades, the MoMA has been able to put together quite an impressive collection of pieces that they have displayed within the museum. Their library consists of over 15,000 paintings now. Some of the notable artists that have been showcased in the MoMA's collection include Frida Kahlo, Roy Lichtenstein and of course Pablo Picasso. Throughout the year, visitors are welcome to view the changing exhibits at the MoMA. The museum's hours are as follows: Sunday - Thursday (10am - 5pm) Friday (10:30am - 8pm) Something that New York Pass holders will really enjoy about visiting the MoMA is the Fast Track Entry. The museum offers a Fast Track line which is accessible with your NY Pass. You'll be able to avoid the long general admission line and join a shorter line for entrance. That way, you can get right to enjoying the museum. If you're interested in visiting the Museum of Modern Art, visit our webpage for more information.
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People at a crosswalk in NYC
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New York City tourism: how safe is NYC for tourists?

TV, news and social media might have you wondering, 'how safe is NYC for tourists?' But we're here to put your mind at ease: the truth is that New York City is one of the safest big cities in the world. Visitors are constantly under the protection of the city's vigilant police force. Having said this, that doesn't mean that you don't need to be cautious to stay safe. If you're visiting New York and you're wondering if New York City is safe, do some research to prepare yourself for your trip. Familiarizing yourself with the city's hazards, and being pragmatic, and prepared is all you need to ensure peace of mind. How safe is NYC for tourists? The crime rate is relatively low in New York City. When crimes occur they usually don't take place in tourist-heavy areas around Manhattan. For example, most sightseers are unlikely to visit Harlem, the Bronx, or other boroughs where crimes are most likely to occur. That being said, there are a few things a tourist in New York City should be wary of. Is Central Park safe at night? As any local will tell you, it's never a good idea to go through Central Park at night. While Central Park is an iconic tourist attraction during the day, it is technically supposed to be closed late at night and in the early hours of the morning. The vast majority of cases of crime and violence in the park occur at night. It may seem tempting to take a stroll in Central Park after dark, but it's safer to wait for the sun to come up. Generally speaking, you want to stay away from areas of the city when they are empty and deserted. Is the Financial District safe? Many commercial areas of the city like the Financial District tend to become deserted after business hours. The fewer people there are in an area, the less safe it's likely to be in a big city. Is the New York subway safe? It's especially important to be vigilant on the subway in New York, and avoid taking the train late at night if possible. If you're riding the subway, try to stay in cars where there are many people rather than choosing a vacant car. Being in an empty train car isn't a safe option for tourists, particularly if you look lost (or are actually lost) or are new to the city.  Probably the biggest threat in New York is pickpocketing. Protect yourself by wearing a wallet on the inside of your clothing and staying away from panhandlers. Tips for staying safe in NYC ❗Try to look like a local. When you're dressing for sightseeing, try to take note of what the locals are wearing and emulate that if you can. If there's a thief or pickpocket around, they're going to target those who seem unfamiliar with their surroundings. Don't openly wander around with your head buried in a map - familiarize yourself with NYC's grid system, and plan your movements over breakfast or brunch. Soon you won't need a map to travel. ❗Keep your valuables well hidden. To avoid pickpockets, always make sure that your valuables are hidden. Be discreet when you're using your smartphone or a digital camera. Showcasing any valuable possessions regularly could prove to be dangerous and make you a prime target for mugging. ❗Travel in groups when you're unfamiliar with an area. If you're not familiar with the city and you're vacationing in a group, try not to go off by yourself. Being alone and obviously from out of the area could make you a target if you have the misfortune of finding yourself around the wrong people. There are plenty of tours available with The New York Pass® ❗Research destinations before you go. The more research you do, the better able you'll be to find what you're looking for. The nyctourism.com website is a great place to start for researching essential information to help you feel like a local before you get there. ❗Ask police officers for help. During your stay in New York City, you're probably going to see many of the ubiquitous NYPD cars and officers. You can expect New York City police officers to be very helpful when it comes to providing directions, and addressing any concerns you have about safety or dangerous situations. ❗Take extra precautions in touristy places like Times Square. Never leave your valuables unattended - and don't put your purse on the floor or hang it off the back of your chair while dining. Remember, asking if NYC is safe doesn't matter if you disregard all precautions, so just because NYC is considered one of the safest cities in the world to travel to, you still need to be careful in any city that is considered safe to visit. Experience everything New York City has to offer with The New York Pass®  Planning your New York trip? With The New York Pass®, you can explore big-name landmarks, local hotspots and epic tours, all on one pass, all for one price. Not only that, but you'll enjoy savings of up to 50%, compared to buying individual attraction tickets.   ✈️ Buy The New York Pass® ✈️ 
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How to Get Around in NYC

One city, 8 million residents, countless opportunities to get lost. Chances are, unless you know New York City very well, you will find yourself lost or on the wrong path once or twice. Don't beat yourself up if that happens to you, even native New Yorkers take the wrong train or walk in the wrong direction on occasion. To minimize the amount of time you waste getting lost, it's a good idea to get familiar with the plentiful transportation options New York City has to offer. [spacer height="20px"] The New York City Subway [caption id="attachment_1195" align="aligncenter" width="1051"] 7 Train in Queens | Photo by @nyclovesnyc[/caption] By far the most efficient way of getting around is the New York City Subway. Though the intricate web of colors and letters and numbers may seem daunting, this trusty old system will take you pretty to and from pretty much every corner of New York City. The NYC subway is one of the oldest in the world, and frankly, it shows. The vestibules are often smelly, dirty and congested and the old-fashioned trains are often late, or in desperate need of repair. Despite this, Most New Yorkers use the subway every day for their commute in place of driving, and you should too. Follow alert.mta.info for current delays or reroutes. The best way to navigate the subway is to get really familiar with the infamous Subway Map. This work of art will tell you everything you need to know, as long as you know roughly where you are and where you're going. Once you have found your destination stop and identify the line you have to take, you have to pay attention to whether the train is going Uptown or Downtown. The Uptown and Downtown terms are relative to where you currently are, typically if you're heading North (or to the Bronx or Queens), take the Uptown train and if you're headed South (or to Brooklyn), take the Downtown train. For easy navigation, you can pick up a hard copy of the map at most subway stations, or you can download it onto your phone. Several handy apps are also available, if you like to get thorough. If you're unsure about local customs, please familiarize yourself with Subway Etiquette. Keep in mind that each single ride on the subway is $3, or $2.75 with a preloaded MetroCard. If you're here for a while, you can get an unlimited weekly MetroCard for $32 or a monthly for $121. A new physical card will run you $1. [spacer height="20px"] Municipal Buses [caption id="attachment_1197" align="aligncenter" width="1295"] MTA Bus Map[/caption] Much like the subway, the municipal buses are run by the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority). They are available in every borough and offer transportation to some areas the subway just doesn't reach. For most MTA buses, you can use the same MetroCard you purchased at the subway station (Express buses do not accept unlimited MetroCards). Unlike the Subway, the buses actually operate on a schedule decently well (many New Yorkers may disagree with this statement). Again, all you really need here is the schedule and a Bus Map and you're good to go! Unlike the subway, your phones will work here the whole time. [spacer height="20px"] Citibike (and other bike rentals) [caption id="attachment_1198" align="aligncenter" width="993"] Citibike rack | Photo via Siegel+Gale[/caption] Biking around New York has become not only a popular pastime, but also a popular mode of transportation. Health/earth conscious New Yorkers have opted for two wheels in place of cars and congested subways. If you don't own a bike, or for whatever reason can't ride yours, there are plenty of options out there. Perhaps the most popular is Citibike, a bike sharing program, available all over the city, offering short-term bike rentals. Citibike offers either yearly membership, or a day pass for short-term visitors. With the day pass, you can ride as many times as you want, for $12. Remember that you have 30 minutes before you have to dock again. Download the Citibike app to get information about the closest docking stations, including real-time availability map. If you would rather get a better bike for a rental, without being limited to the 30-minute timeline, you can try Central Park Sightseeing, Central Park Bike Rent or Blazing Saddles. Blazing Saddles offers cruiser rentals down at South Street Seaport, and pier 84, while the other two companies offer rentals and tours in Central Park and Brooklyn Bridge. You can rent from a [spacer height="20px"] Hop on Hop off Bus [caption id="attachment_1199" align="aligncenter" width="1139"] Big Bus Tours[/caption] One of the most scenic and informative ways to see New York is on top of a Big Bus double-decker bus. These buses go around in several loops, have a tour guide and stop by most of the major attractions. You can either take Big Bus as a sightseeing tour and do the whole loop (each loop is about 2 - 2.5 hours) or hop on and off wherever is convenient for you. Keep in mind that the buses go in NYC traffic and can be quite slow. It's not the best transportation option when you're in a rush, but it's a great way to get acquainted with the city when you first arrive. Each New York Pass holder receives a free 1-day ticket, covering the Downtown, Midtown and Uptown loop. [spacer height="20px"] Foot [caption id="attachment_1230" align="alignright" width="1500"] The High Line | Photo via TimeOut New York[/caption] [spacer height="20px"] The most popular way of getting around in NYC, hands down, is walking. New York City is one of the most walkable cities, due to its concentration on a relatively small piece of land. You can technically walk the entire island of Manhattan in the span of a day. When visiting New York, it's a good idea to bring a pair of comfortable shoes, because unless you want to shell out big bucks for taxis, chances are you are going to do quite a bit of walking regardless. Manhattan above 14th St. is very easy to navigate on foot, because the streets are organized in a grid. 12 Avenues go North to South and 200 some streets cross them East to West. The boundary between East side and West side is 5th Avenue. Things get more complicated Downtown, where there is no street organization to speak of. It's recommended to fire up Google Maps while strolling below 14th St. [spacer height="20px"] New York Water Taxi (and other ferries) [caption id="attachment_779" align="aligncenter" width="2845"] New York Water Taxi[/caption] Most of New York City is essentially a cluster of islands, as such it is intertwined with a body of water, which presents a great opportunity for water-based transportation. There are many ferries servicing the New York City Waters, one of them is the New York Water Taxi, which offers stops all along the New York Harbor for you to hop on and off. For transportation to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, use the Statue Cruises Ferry departing from Battery Park. For transportation between Brooklyn and Manhattan, you can use the East River Ferry, or the New York Water Taxi. If you're looking to sightsee on the river, check out the Best Cruises in NYC. [spacer height="20px"] Taxi One of the most quintessential transportation methods in NYC has to be the signature yellow cabs. Taxis are convenient, quick, and you take take them pretty much anywhere. The drawback is the cost, if you rely on taxis only for all your transportation needs, it'll cost you. Certain routes and times of day may also make you delayed due to traffic. Yellow cabs are most popular in Manhattan, but you can catch one in outer boroughs as well, except the cars will be green. New York City taxis are heavily regulated, so you don't have to worry about getting ripped off if you hail a cab, but please remember the etiquette attached to riding in a taxi. Regardless of how far you go, please remember to tip your cab drivers, preferably in cash. [spacer height="20px"] Uber (and other ride share programs) [caption id="attachment_1231" align="alignright" width="2000"] Uber | Photo via The Bubble[/caption] Uber has become insanely popular in recent years. Ride share programs have a few advantages over taxis. They tend to be cheaper, you can call them from an app, wherever you are, and you don't have to tip. You can call an Uber, Lyft or Juno, at any time, wherever you and and in a few minutes your car will be waiting for you. One draw back is that during peak time, in popular areas, Uber has surge pricing, so you can end up paying much more than you would in a taxi. If you need a ride on a Friday night in West Village, you may be better off hailing a taxi than calling an Uber. in outer boroughs, rude share apps are almost always more accessible.
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