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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Is the New York Pass Worth The Price For Budget Travelers?

This post originally appeared in Follow Me Away, a travel blog by Victoria and Terrence, a model/photographer duo from Florida. Follow Victoria and Terrence on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. [spacer height="20px"] We can safely say that New York City is somewhere that everyone should visit at least once in their life. That being said, The Big Apple is extremely expensive and all of the tours, museums, and attractions continue to raise their prices. That is where the New York Pass comes in. Is it worth it for budget travelers? Let’s find out! [caption id="attachment_755" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] 3 Day New York Pass[/caption] What is the New York Pass? The New York Pass is a possible solution for budget travelers because you pay one price, and are granted access to over 80+ attractions. Unlike other passes we looked at where you had to choose between THIS or THAT attraction or only had access to a few attractions, the New York Pass allows you to see each and every attraction if you have time. How much does it cost? The price of your New York Pass depends on how many days you choose. For example, the 1-day adult pass costs $109 [as of August 2016]. The more days you add, the cheaper each day becomes. If you choose a 3-day pass the total price is $239 but the individual price per day is now just $80 instead of $109. As a budget traveler, the thought of dropping $100 in a day sounds horrifying. Unfortunately, if you are in New York City and you want to visit iconic sites other than the ever-free Central Park, you are going to have to drop some money. [caption id="attachment_754" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Downtown Manhattan Skyline[/caption] How does the New York Pass help budget travelers see more for less? The New York Pass helps those of us who don’t like to spend by saving us money. By paying a flat fee, you will be granted access to 80+ attractions, many of which you may not get to experience otherwise. For example, we would never do a paid walking tour, a behind the scenes tour, or a hop-on-hop-off bus tour, but the New York Pass allowed us this opportunity. Whether it is your first time to New York or you are a seasoned visitor, the New York Pass grants you access to a variety of different experiences. How to make the most of your New York Pass and save money: If you are still a bit iffy about dropping over $100, hear us out! You can spend $100 and only visit one museum with entrance valued at $30 and obviously you will lose money. OR, you can make the most of your New York Pass and spend the entire day using your pass on any and everything. First, divide the number of days you purchased by the price to find out your price per day. If you bought the three-day pass, you will spend $80 per day. Now, in order for the New York Pass to be worth it, you will have to visit enough attractions so that the price of the attraction on its own is more expensive than $80. With the New York Pass, this is super easy to do! For example, “The Ride” normally costs $74. If you choose this attraction and one more, you have automatically saved money. Most of us visiting the city are going to choose way more than 2 attractions so you can see where the savings come in. [caption id="attachment_756" align="aligncenter" width="1022"] View From Empire State Building at Night[/caption] Let’s look at a sample 1-day itinerary: The Ride-$74 Madame Tussauds Wax Museum-$37 Inside Broadway Tours-$35 Top Of The Rock-$32 Total Without New York Pass-$172 Total With 1 Day New York Pass-$109 [or cheaper depending on how many days you add] Let’s talk about the savings! With the simple 1-day, 4 attraction itinerary above, you will save a whopping $63! The best part is the vast majority of travelers can fit in a lot more than four attractions in one day, so we are pretty sure your savings will be greater! Who should purchase the New York Pass? We feel like the New York Pass is perfect for those of you looking to make the most out of your trip to the Big Apple. Make sure you have enough time to devote to your pass. If you are visiting family and don’t have much time, a 1-day pass may be perfect for you to pack everything into one day. If you are backpacking in and staying for a week, a 4-day pass may fit the bill for you so you can see as much of the 80 attractions as you can. [caption id="attachment_758" align="aligncenter" width="1023"] View from Big Bus Hop on Hop off Bus[/caption] Is the New York Pass worth it? After using our 3-day pass, we feel like the New York Pass was TOTALLY worth it! The Pass allowed us to do “touristy” things like visiting the top of the Empire State Building and taking the Circle Line Tour that we would have NEVER done otherwise because the individual price was just too high. With the New York Pass, the more you see, the more you save! So we encourage you to pick one up and go hog wild and see everything possible on your next trip to New York City! No matter what, remember to have fun! Have you used the New York Pass? What did you think? We would love to hear from you in the comments!
Go City Expert

Mesmerizing Photos of New York City at Night

New York City is beautiful from every angle, in any season and during all times of the day. There is something special, however, about the Big Apple at night. The sparkling lights and glowing streets organized in a perfect grid make the city look like a stunning neon peg board. A group of photographers set out to take the most stunning pictures of New York City at night from the cockpit of a Liberty Helicopter. The photographs originally appeared in Storehouse. [caption id="attachment_713" align="aligncenter" width="1316"] Aerial View of Downtown Manhattan[/caption] [spacer height="20px"] [caption id="attachment_714" align="aligncenter" width="1316"] Times Square Glowing in the Dark[/caption] [spacer height="20px"] [caption id="attachment_715" align="aligncenter" width="1316"] Times Square and Madison Square Garden[/caption] [spacer height="20px"] [caption id="attachment_716" align="aligncenter" width="585"] One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial[/caption] [spacer height="20px"] [caption id="attachment_717" align="aligncenter" width="1316"] Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge from Above[/caption] [spacer height="20px"] [caption id="attachment_718" align="aligncenter" width="1316"] Midtown and Times Square[/caption] [spacer height="20px"] [caption id="attachment_719" align="aligncenter" width="1316"] Close-up of Times Square Glowing at Night[/caption] [spacer height="20px"] [caption id="attachment_720" align="aligncenter" width="1316"] Downtown View[/caption] [spacer height="20px"] [caption id="attachment_721" align="aligncenter" width="1316"] Aerial New York City at Night[/caption] [spacer height="20px"] If you want to experience New York City from above and take in the most magnificent views of its iconic buildings and landmarks, you can take a tour with Liberty Helicopter and receive 15% off with your New York Pass. If you have taken a helicopter tour in New York City, please share your impressions in comments and post your photos on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with hashtag #newyorkpass or #nypassmoments.
Go City Expert

10 Days in New York City - The Ultimate Itinerary

You’ve got 10 days in New York. Potentially longer. But what to do you do? Everywhere you look, there’s something new to experience: a hot dog stand here, an Empire State Building there. How does someone prioritize in this bustling city? And more importantly, how can you save money while doing seeing all the best stuff. Well, firstly, if you’re a savvy traveler, you would have already invested in your New York Pass. As you already know, this sightseeing pass gives you free entry to 100+ attractions – all you pay is the pass price. But if you’re a super-savvy traveler (perhaps even an elite traveler) you would have bought a 10-day pass. Why? Because this pass offers savings additional savings on top of what you’d save with the most popular 3-day pass. The cost per day for the 10-day adult pass, when it’s on sale, is just $32.90 a day compared to the 3-day adult pass at $66.33. If you’re in the city for a 10 days or more, this option is well worth considering. And just imagine all the things you could do in that time... We’ve put together the most popular spots you can unlock with a 10-Day pass. Use this for inspiration when planning your own sightseeing 10 day itinerary or maximize your savings potential by following it to a tee. The possibilities are (almost) endless! Here are just some of the things you can see: Big Bus New York Hop-on Hop-off Tour Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Immigration Museum Luna Park at Coney Island Empire State Building Observation Deck Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and more... DAY 1 Big Bus New York Hop-on Hop-off Tour There’s no more comprehensive way to see New York than a hop-on, hop-off bus tour. Sit back, relax and have your selfie stick handy as the bus rolls past major landmarks like the Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden, among other iconic sights. An expert tour guide will commentate the history of attractions along the route and entertain you for the duration of the ride, making it a great day out for visitors and locals curious about the city they live in. Access the tour's three most popular routes: Uptown, Downtown, and Midtown, and have the flexibility to hop on or off at any of the 25+ included stops. If you fancy seeing an area in a bit more detail, why not hop-off and join a walking tour, like the one below? Queens-Flushing International Food Excursion Put your walking shoes on, hop-off at Midtown’s Grand Central Station, and get a real slice of authentic New York in this Queens-Flushing International Food Excursion. Local insight, delivered by a real local expert, will highlight landmarks such as the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, The New York State Pavillion (featured in the hit movie Men in Black), and Citi Field, home to the Home Run Apple. Absorb the sights before arriving at the excursion’s final destination: Queens Night Market. After all that walking, you’ll appreciate the evocative mixture of flavors, fragrances and night air combined with festive illuminations at this attraction. DAY 2 Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Immigration Museum The Statue of Liberty’s story is a truly compelling one. Commissioned in recognition of the friendship between the people of France and that of the US, at the centennial mark of the American Declaration of Independence, it has since grown to symbolise freedom, democracy and empathy, worldwide. Learn more about this epic landmark’s construction by taking a trip to Battery Park and then a ferry to the Statue of Liberty herself. The Statue of Liberty Museum is an essential pitstop during your trip, featuring cutting-edge exhibits and even an app to educate and impress every visitor. Before you set off, remember to pay a visit to the Immigration Museum. This immersive attraction uses creative installations to tell the story of immigrants entering the United States for the first time and being processed through Ellis Island. Surrey Rental on Governors Island A trip to Ellis Island will have taken you the best part of the day, so make your way towards Manhattan and rent a surrey, just a 7-minute ferry ride away. Blazing Saddles' surreys can seat up to 6 passengers at a time and help you get from one point of the island to the next, quickly and comfortably. DAY 3 Brooklyn Botanic Garden Wind down and take a trip to this stunning 52-acre garden in the heart of Brooklyn. Famed for its labyrinth of gardens, this extensive display of botanical life houses 14,000 taxa of plants. Its three climate-controlled plant pavilions, cast-iron and glass aquatic plant house, art gallery and themed gardens attract over 900,000 visitors a year. There’s no better way to start the day. Brooklyn Bridge Bike Tours Ride along one of the most iconic bridges in the United States: the Brooklyn Bridge. Not only can you join an informative tour with an expert guide who will teach you the history of the bridge, you can also rent a bicycle and ride at your own pace. DAY 4 American Museum of Natural History Kick day 4 off at the American Museum of Natural History and explore the wide spectrum of exhibits, from the Hall of Biodiversity to the Fossil Halls and the Hall of Human Origins. You can even see the original Star-Spangled Banner as one of the many amazing items on display. Bethesda Fountain While you’re close, stop off at Bethesda Fountain for a picture or two. You still have that selfie stick, right? It is not simply one of the largest fountains in New York, measuring twenty-six feet high by ninety-six feet wide, it is one of the most famous. The angel herself carries a lily in one hand while the other delivers a pose of blessing the water around her feet. This is to commemorate the 1842 opening of the Croton Aqueduct, which supplied New York City with fresh water. Bethesda Fountain is an unofficial but essential addition to your 10 days in New York itinerary. DAY 5 Luna Park at Coney Island As the well-known local saying goes, a day spent at Luna Park, Coney Island is a day well-spent. They definitely say that. Home to the first rollercoaster which debuted in 1884, the Gravity Switchback Railway, drew crowds of thrill seekers, setting off a craze for rides that quickly spread around the globe. Fast forward to today, and crowds of tourists and New Yorkers alike still flock to the island for the same reason. Inject some adrenaline into your 10 days in New York! Deno’s Wonder Wheel No trip to Coney Island is complete without visiting Deno’s Wonder Wheel. Climb on to the classic carnival ride and take in stunning views of New York City as you scale 150 feet. DAY 6 Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Decomissioned in 1974, the USS Intrepid was the former aircraft carrier that fought in World War II, surviving five kamikaze attacks and one torpedo strike. This incredible ship later served in the Cold War and the Vietnam War, and as a NASA recovery vessel in the 1960s. Now it’s the centerpiece of the interactive Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Situated on the Hudson River, this museum is an essential stop for any history fan. High Line Chelsea Meatpacking Tour While you’re in the area, join this entertaining walking tour. The route takes you a mile above New York. High Line Park is packed with activities, and offers a great view of the Hudson River. Not to mention the amazing view of the city beneath you. Empire State Building Observation Deck Experience a new view of New York City as you look out in every direction from the 86th floor observation deck at the Empire State Building. Watch the sun set over the city for some truly breath-taking panoramic views. Last admission is at midnight and the ESB observation deck remains open until 2am. DAY 7 Madame Tussauds New York With Hollywood located here in New York City, you may run in to a few celebrities or two. But if you can’t wait, make your way to Madame Tussauds in Times Square and see all of the biggest celebrities in one place. Wax figures of President Barack Obama, Lady Gaga, and Michelle Kwan will make excellent additions to your Instagram collection. How’s your selfie stick surviving? Greenwich Village Walking Tour Explore Greenwich Village on a guided tour that takes you to all the most the most popular destinations in the area. You’ll also get to visit the famous Washington Square Park which is home to summer festivals and year-round entertainment. DAY 8 Top of the Rock With your 10 days in New York slowly coming to an end with The New York Pass, you’ll have to make sure you see the best sights. And nothing beats the view of New York City from the top of the Rockefeller Center, with its unobstructed, sweeping views of Central Park and Manhattan’s Midtown. Ascend 70 floors for a 360 degree view. Rockefeller Center Tour One of the greatest buildings from the Great Depression Era, this Rockefeller Center Tour explores this incredible art-deco style building, and uncovers John D. Rockefeller’s vision for the building. Located in Midtown Manhattan, the Rockefeller Center is spread over 89,000 square meters and is home to Top of the Rock as well as over 100 murals, sculptures and mosaics. One of the last major buildings in the United States to incorporate public art in the architecture, it’s an icon of American design. Inside Broadway Tours Get an authentic glimpse into the life of Broadway star. Real Broadway talent show you the ropes and share their experiences for a true insight into what goes into every Broadway performance. You’ll also get to visit Manhattan’s theater district at the performance heart of Broadway. DAY 9 Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Dive into the culture and creativity on display at the world-renowned Museum of Modern Art. In addition to the iconic art pieces being showcased, you can also catch daily film screenings and discussions. On Location Tours Central Park TV & Movie Sites Walking Tour Join a unique tour of Central Park showcasing areas that have appeared in blockbuster hits like Home Alone 2 and Breakfast at Tiffany’s as well as hit TV shows like Sex in the City. Bryant Park End the day in Bryant Park. Known as Manhattan's Town Square, the park is known for its lavish seasonal gardens, free activities and al fresco dining. Surrounded by iconic skyscrapers, Bryant Park is visited by more than 12 million people each year and is one of the busiest public spaces in the world. If you’re visiting in winter, you’ll see part of the park transformed into a massive ice rink. Enjoy some ice skate rentals, on us. DAY 10 The Cathedral of St. John the Divine Grab a coffee and travel to Manhattan’s uptown region for your last day with The New York Pass. Wander the picturesque gardens and take in the stunning gothic architecture of one of the city’s most prominent historical landmarks. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Your 10 days in New York would not be complete without seeing this architectural masterpiece. The Guggenheim museum is home to one of the finest modern art collections in the world. Ascend the landmark's grand spiral and experience its special exhibitions and permanent collections. Designed by the visionary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the Guggenheim Museum is one of the most recognised museums in NYC, curating one of the most incredible collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early modern and contemporary art in the world. So that's our 10 days in New York itinerary! Need some more inspiration on things to do in New York City? We've got you covered.
Suz Pathmanathan

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