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- Parks, Zoos & Gardens -
The Great Outdoors in New York City

Central Park lake, New York City
Manhattan's backyard, Central Park

New York City is the greenest city in America, boasting 52,938 acres (more than 25%) of parks and open space out of 197,696 total acres.

Central Park, Manhattan's famed green oasis, is only number five on the list of the city's ten largest parks. There are more than 750 different native species of animals and plants throughout the five boroughs, including the endangered peregrine falcon, the sharp-shinned hawk, and white tailed deer.

Central Park and the Bronx's New York Botanical Garden offer guided bird walks, and spring in Queens brings thousands of migrating shore birds to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge's 10,000 acres. You're invited to join New Yorkers who jog, walk, bike, in-line skate, horseback ride, ice skate, rent row boats, play basketball, softball, soccer, and tennis, and enjoy special events and festivals, in the city's 1,700 parks and playgrounds.

New York City parks

In New York City's famed Central Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, there are 843 acres of landscaped and recreational areas including a zoo, carousel, a reservoir, an ice-skating rink, a boathouse where you can rent rowboats, and plenty of trails for walking, jogging, bicycling, and horseback riding. It's a park for all seasons, from ice skating in winter to free, summertime performances of Shakespeare's plays, a Victorian-themed amusement park, and concerts on the Great Lawn that crescendo to dazzling displays of fireworks.

For greenery, Riverside Park is a real haven. The only state park situated on Manhattan Island, this 28-acre multi-level park rises 69 feet above the Hudson River. Keep going, just past the George Washington Bridge, to the very top of the island, and you will discover Fort Tyron Park, which houses the Metropolitan Museum of Art's medieval art collection in the Cloisters.

At the southern tip of Manhattan, from West and Chambers streets south and west to the Hudson River, are Battery Park City's 30 acres of gardens, playgrounds, one-mile esplanade, public art, and views of the Hudson River.

Also in Manhattan is Bryant Park, which comprises eight restored acres in Midtown behind the New York Public Library. This urban oasis has chairs, benches, gardens, fountain, carousel, and restaurants plus a full schedule of free entertainment including, music, movies, and special events.

Central Park lake, New York City
A view of Lady Liberty from Battery Park

Brooklyn boasts a beautiful Olmsted-designed park, 520-acre Prospect Park. Here you'll find a zoo, a Civil War memorial arch, and 1776 Dutch colonial homestead.

A full 24% of the Bronx's 42 square miles is parkland. Van Cortlandt Park covers nearly two square miles and has boating, horseback riding, cricket, golf, picnicking, and tennis as well as the country's oldest municipal golf course, built in 1895. Also in the Bronx is Pelham Bay Park whose 2,700 acres include Orchard Beach, cycling, boats, fishing, horses, picnicking, and tennis.

In Queens, Flushing Meadow-Corona Park encompasses 1,255 acres. This vast park has been the site of two World's Fairs (1939 and 1964), is home to the Unisphere, the Queens Museum of Art, the New York Hall of Science, Citi Field (home of the New York Mets), the Queens Theatre in the Park, the USTA National Tennis Center (home of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships), the Queens Zoo, and the Queens Botanical Garden.

In Staten Island, Blue Heron Park and Nature Center is a 147-acre park that is a habitat of the blue heron and that includes hiking trails and picnic areas as well as Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve, which has hiking trails and bridle paths that run through 260-plus acres of bogs, ponds, sand barrens, woodlands, and spring-fed streams. Also on Staten Island is The Greenbelt, a 2,800-acres nature preserve that includes High Rock Park and the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge.

New York City gardens

Cloisters, New York City
The Cloisters garden
in northern Manhattan.


Gardens large and small, exotic and traditional, bloom throughout New York City. Each of the five boroughs has lovely year-round botanical gardens, and numerous garden-related events.

Start your tour of New York gardens in Central Park's Conservatory Garden. Its six lush acres -- the city's only formal European-style garden – has the most varied collection of flora in Manhattan.

With your appetite whetted, head to the renowned Brooklyn Botanic Garden, a 52-acre urban oasis with specialty gardens and world-class collections.

In the Bronx is the New York Botanical Garden, one of America's foremost public gardens as well as a National Historic Landmark. In its center is the 40-acre New York Botanical Garden Forest -- the only uncut woodland in New York City.

For a totally unique garden experience, head to The Cloisters' (the beautiful location for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's medieval art collection) medieval herb garden, 250 species planted around a fountain in a pink-and-white marble columned enclosure overlooking the Hudson River. Three of the cloisters feature gardens planted according to horticultural information found in medieval treatises and poetry, garden documents and herbals, and medieval works of art, such as tapestries, stained-glass windows, and column capitals.

Other outdoor spaces in NYC

The Bronx Zoo is the largest urban zoo in the country. It is home to more than 4,000 animals representing more than 600 species, housed in mostly outdoor, park-like settings.

Sunset Park's Green-Wood Cemetery is one of the world's most beautiful cemeteries. With a spectacular harbor view and 478 acres filled with thousands of trees, flowering shrubs, and four lakes, Green-Wood is the eternal resting place of a who's who of famous folks including Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Morse, F.A.O. Schwarz, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Charles Tiffany, and "Boss" Tweed.

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More about New York City parks around the Web:

List of New York City parks - Wikipedia

Time Out New York - Best parks in New York City

also see in Beaches -> New York City Beaches

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