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Escape the City at 29 of New York's Awesome Hidden Parks

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Although New York is often thought of for its extensive development, it is also home to some 1,700 parks, playgrounds, and recreation areas spread over the five boroughs. While it's easy to choose one of the city's greats like Central Park, Prospect Park, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, or Pelham Bay Park on a sunny day, why not head out to one of the city's other, oh, thousand-some grassy knolls? To whom these parks are hidden is, of course, subjective. Incensed by an omission? Leave your favorite spot in the comments.


· 40 Secret Gardens, Parks and Green Spaces Hidden Across NYC [Curbed]
· All Outdoors Week 2014 coverage [Curbed]

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1. Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

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Broad Channel
Queens, NY

The criminally underrated Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is "one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the Northeastern United States." The park, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, is a hotspot for birdwatching and avian admirers, but its winding nature walks offer something interesting for all outdoors enthusiasts.

2. Baisley Pond Park

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Guy R. Brewer Blvd.
Jamaica, NY 11434
(718) 322-1741
Visit Website

Baisley Pond Park has a little something for everyone, from a running track, to various athletic fields, and even WiFi hotspots for outdoors dissenters. Interesting fact: when dredging the bottom of the pond in the late 1800's, Brooklyn city workers discovered the fragmented remains of an American Mastodon likely from 10,000 years ago (which is to say, yes!, it's a real pond.)

3. Barretto Point Park

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Tiffany St
Bronx, NY 10474
(212) 639-9675
Visit Website

This Hunts Point park is located on the East River waterfront, and offers plenty of varied terrain: visitors can paddle kayaks and canoes around the river, fish from the park's waterfront points, swim in its "floating pool" on an old barge, ride its bike loop, or relax in its gardens.

4. St. Mary's Park

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St. Anns Ave.
New York, NY 10451

St. Mary's Park is the largest park in the South Bronx, and one of the borough's six original parks. The parkland was once part of the estate of Jonas Bronck, the settler who the Bronx was named after. Fans of the park have late-1800's journalist John Mullaly to thank—Mullaly created the New York Park Association in 1881 which lead to the creation of St. Mary's. As per the Parks Department website, "His efforts culminated in the 1884 New Parks Act and the city’s 1888-90 purchase of lands for Van Cortlandt, Claremont, Crotona, Bronx, St. Mary’s, and Pelham Bay Parks and the Moshulu, Pelham and Crotona Parkways." The park was named for a nearby church that was demolished in 1959. Visitors to the park these days can enjoy grilling, biking, ball games, and other activities hosted by the park's recreation center.

5. Lotus Garden

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West 97th Street, between B'Way & WEA
New York, NY 10025

The Lotus Garden is a community garden of another kind—the sixth-of-an-acre park is planted on top of a parking garage on the Upper West Side. The strange locale is due to early 1980's negotiations with William Zeckendorf Jr., whose Columbia condo development rerooted the garden from the former acre lot to the Columbia garage's rooftop. The garden, which celebrates its 30th birthday in the fall, is open every Sunday afternoon between April and November from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

6. Mill Pond Park

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Exterior St.
New York, NY 10451

The relatively new Mill Pond Park availed its 15-acres of Harlem River frontage to the city in October 2009. The strip of green is a relief from the surrounding industrial and commercial area that includes the Bronx Terminal Market and nearby Yankee Stadium. If Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has his way, Mill Pond Park will, in the near future, adjoin another swath of riverfront park that stretches north along the Harlem River. The park has 16 tennis courts and an ADA-accessible esplanade where joggers and visitors can enjoy its riverfront views.

7. Crotona Park

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1682 Boston Rd
Bronx, NY 10460

Crotona Park might be a good place to flock to in the warmer months: the 126-year-old park is home to the borough's largest pool and also has a 3.3-acre lake. Naturalists, do note: the park is home to some 28 different species of trees.

8. Wave Hill

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675 W 252nd St
Bronx, NY 10471
(718) 549-3200
Visit Website

The 28-acre Wave Hill park is a public garden (albeit with an $8 admission) that overlooks the Hudson River and Palisades. The former Riverdale estate was first developed by William Lewis Morris and was later visited and lived at by Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt. In addition to hosting a slew of cultural events, the park is home to an array of themed gardens of the herb, aquatic, and conifer varieties, amongst others.

9. Isham Park

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Park Terrace West
New York, NY 10034

The Inwood Hill Park-hugging Isham Park is known for its bountiful marble outcroppings and scenic views. The elevated park looks out towards the Hudson and Harlem rivers. The park is named after leather-merchant-turned-banker William Bradley Isham, who in 1864 purchased 24-acres for a summer estate. Nowadays, the park's "rolling topography" is popular with families and children.

10. Eleanor's Pier

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Roosevelt Island's Eleanor's Pier opened just a few weeks ago. The park has completely unobstructed views of Manhattan, and, taking a cue from Williamsburg's ever-popular destination, hosts a Smorgasburg-style food market on the weekends. The pier is operated by the Hudson and Related Companies.

11. Alice's Garden

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The little piece of land that is Alice's Garden is a lesser-traversed lot above the Lincoln Tunnel at 34th Street between Tenth and Dyer avenues. The Port Authority-owned lot is named after its former caretaker Alice Parsekian, who passed away in 2010. The park is a green oasis in the midsts of the Midtown crowds.

12. Murray Playground

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The John F. Murray Playground park occupies a whole block in the rapidly-changing Court Square neighborhood of Queens. The newly renovated park is not just a place for tots, but also has lots of benches and meandering walkways for visitors.

13. Owl's Head Park

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68th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11220

Bay Ridge's Owl's Head Park serves visitors and dogs faithfully with its premium snow-sledding hill, 150-foot-long by 40-foot-wide dog run, one of Brooklyn's only city skate parks, and views to New York Harbor. Image via Flickr.

14. The Garden at St. Luke in the Fields

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487 Hudson St
New York, NY 10014

The walled, two-third-of-an-acre park in the West Village is a space for quiet and introspection. The gardens, interspersed with winding walks, are open to the community between 8 a.m. and dusk.

15. Samuel Paley Park

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3 E 53rd St
New York, NY 10022

Although not a park in the traditional, abundant greenery sense, Paley Park is still a respite from the hustle and bustle of Midtown. The East 53rd Street area is surrounded by buildings on three sides. The park's pièce de résistance is its 20-foot-tall wall of cascading water. Image via Yelp.

16. Greenacre Park

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217 E 51st St
New York, NY 10022

Similar to Paley Park, Midtown East's Greenacre Park is also an urban respite with a 25-foot-high fountain wall. It's been charming Midtown grazers and business men and woman since 1971. Image via Flickr.

17. Socrates Sculpture Park

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3205 Vernon Blvd
Long Island City, NY 11106

The Astoria park on a former landfill and illegal dumping site is the largest park in the city dedicated to showcasing sculptures. The four-acre park where the Harlem and East rivers meet gained permanent park status in 1998.

18. Elizabeth Street Garden

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209 Elizabeth St
New York, NY 10012

The community garden in Little Italy which began accepting visitors last year sits partially on the former site of P.S. 106 (P.S. 21). Visitors can enjoy its curious variety of marble and cast sculptures, and take heed: the community garden is still vulnerable to development. Better get your lounging in while you can. The garden is open from noon to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays through Fridays, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Image via Washington Square Park Blog.

19. Gil Hodges Community Garden

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The small Gowanus community garden underwent a neat renovation in 2013 that turned the 32-year-old space into a water-filtering landscape. The renovation included the installation of bioswales, rain gardens and permeable pavers that filter water en route to the nearby Gowanus Canal. Scent-o-philes, take note: the park is sponsored by London perfumery Jo Malone, and includes a "fragrance walk" with textural and fragrant plants. Image via Facebook.

20. Elevated Acre

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55 Water St
New York, NY 10004

Similar to the High Line, the Elevated Acre is a lifted park that's entered via a nondescript elevator. While the park is certainly known to those who work in the area—a favorite spot for outdoor lunch—it doesn't avail itself to the casual meanderer. Hang here for views of the Brooklyn Bridge. Image via Untapped Cities.

21. Erie Basin Park

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1 Beard St
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Never heard of Erie Basin Park? Maybe that's because it's not owned by the city, but by the Red Hook waterfront-hugging Ikea. The park, which opened in 2008, is the result of a demand issued by the City Planning Commission when it allowed the mega-retailer to take over the former Todd Shipyard, which dated back to the Civil War. Visitors to the park can arrive via the Water Taxi to enjoy the park's lower Manhattan and Staten Island views.

22. Lt. Lia Playground

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This terraced St. George park is ideal for idle gazing: parts of the playground and park overlook the harbor and lower Manhattan. Image via Bridge and Tunnel Club.

23. Schmul Park

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Wild Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10314

Schmul Park, a small piece of the larger Freshkills Park, opened in 2012 following a $6.5 million renovation. Although its a hike from, say, Midtown, the park has some architectural noteriety to it: the park itself was designed by James Corner Field Operations, and its new comfort station was designed by BKSK Architects. Unlike Freshkills, Schmul Park can be enjoyed now—the rest of the 2,200-acre park will be in development, in phases, through 2036.

24. Septuagesimo Uno Park

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West 71st St.
New York, NY 10023

This teeny-tiny Upper West Side park is almost, almost the city's smallest park at .04 acres. The park, once named the 71st Street Plot, was renamed in 2000 to "approve its appeal."

25. Shore Road Park and Parkway

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The park that stretches under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is an ideal place to catch the sunset and some sights, including the Statue of Liberty, Fort Wadsworth, One World Trade Center, and Fort Hamilton Army Base. Those looking to run, walk, or bike are welcome to move along the park's 4.5 mile shore-hugging path.

26. Alice Austen House

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2 Hylan Blvd
Staten Island, NY 10305
(718) 816-4506
Visit Website

The grand home and these picturesque grounds were once the domain of early woman photographer Alice Austen. Austen lived and worked in the home until the Great Depression. These days, its grounds have been replanted to reflect the species present in Austen's photograph. The home is one of 17 historic houses under the jurisdiction of Parks and the Historical House Trust of New York City.

27. Fort Washington Park

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Hudson River Greenway
New York, NY 10032

Check out The Little Red Lighthouse, the only lighthouse on the island of Manhattan, in Fort Washington Park. The lighthouse is right under the George Washington Bridge, and is accessible by bike via the Hudson River Greenway. Views towards the Palisades are stunning, too.

28. Fulton Park

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Fulton St.
Brooklyn, NY 11233
(718) 467-0156
Visit Website

Visitors to this neighborhood park can enjoy its bountiful foliage and benches.

29. Fort Totten Park

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Totten Road
Queens, NY 11360

Fort Totten Park is nestled amongst a well-preserved Civil War-era fortress. Visitors can take advantage of the park's pool, lounge in its grass, or take canoes out into the Long Island Sound.

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1. Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

Broad Channel, Queens, NY

The criminally underrated Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is "one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the Northeastern United States." The park, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, is a hotspot for birdwatching and avian admirers, but its winding nature walks offer something interesting for all outdoors enthusiasts.

Broad Channel
Queens, NY

2. Baisley Pond Park

Guy R. Brewer Blvd., Jamaica, NY 11434

Baisley Pond Park has a little something for everyone, from a running track, to various athletic fields, and even WiFi hotspots for outdoors dissenters. Interesting fact: when dredging the bottom of the pond in the late 1800's, Brooklyn city workers discovered the fragmented remains of an American Mastodon likely from 10,000 years ago (which is to say, yes!, it's a real pond.)

Guy R. Brewer Blvd.
Jamaica, NY 11434

3. Barretto Point Park

Tiffany St, Bronx, NY 10474

This Hunts Point park is located on the East River waterfront, and offers plenty of varied terrain: visitors can paddle kayaks and canoes around the river, fish from the park's waterfront points, swim in its "floating pool" on an old barge, ride its bike loop, or relax in its gardens.

Tiffany St
Bronx, NY 10474

4. St. Mary's Park

St. Anns Ave., New York, NY 10451

St. Mary's Park is the largest park in the South Bronx, and one of the borough's six original parks. The parkland was once part of the estate of Jonas Bronck, the settler who the Bronx was named after. Fans of the park have late-1800's journalist John Mullaly to thank—Mullaly created the New York Park Association in 1881 which lead to the creation of St. Mary's. As per the Parks Department website, "His efforts culminated in the 1884 New Parks Act and the city’s 1888-90 purchase of lands for Van Cortlandt, Claremont, Crotona, Bronx, St. Mary’s, and Pelham Bay Parks and the Moshulu, Pelham and Crotona Parkways." The park was named for a nearby church that was demolished in 1959. Visitors to the park these days can enjoy grilling, biking, ball games, and other activities hosted by the park's recreation center.

St. Anns Ave.
New York, NY 10451

5. Lotus Garden

West 97th Street, between B'Way & WEA, New York, NY 10025

The Lotus Garden is a community garden of another kind—the sixth-of-an-acre park is planted on top of a parking garage on the Upper West Side. The strange locale is due to early 1980's negotiations with William Zeckendorf Jr., whose Columbia condo development rerooted the garden from the former acre lot to the Columbia garage's rooftop. The garden, which celebrates its 30th birthday in the fall, is open every Sunday afternoon between April and November from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

West 97th Street, between B'Way & WEA
New York, NY 10025

6. Mill Pond Park

Exterior St., New York, NY 10451

The relatively new Mill Pond Park availed its 15-acres of Harlem River frontage to the city in October 2009. The strip of green is a relief from the surrounding industrial and commercial area that includes the Bronx Terminal Market and nearby Yankee Stadium. If Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has his way, Mill Pond Park will, in the near future, adjoin another swath of riverfront park that stretches north along the Harlem River. The park has 16 tennis courts and an ADA-accessible esplanade where joggers and visitors can enjoy its riverfront views.

Exterior St.
New York, NY 10451

7. Crotona Park

1682 Boston Rd, Bronx, NY 10460

Crotona Park might be a good place to flock to in the warmer months: the 126-year-old park is home to the borough's largest pool and also has a 3.3-acre lake. Naturalists, do note: the park is home to some 28 different species of trees.

1682 Boston Rd
Bronx, NY 10460

8. Wave Hill

675 W 252nd St, Bronx, NY 10471

The 28-acre Wave Hill park is a public garden (albeit with an $8 admission) that overlooks the Hudson River and Palisades. The former Riverdale estate was first developed by William Lewis Morris and was later visited and lived at by Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt. In addition to hosting a slew of cultural events, the park is home to an array of themed gardens of the herb, aquatic, and conifer varieties, amongst others.

675 W 252nd St
Bronx, NY 10471

9. Isham Park

Park Terrace West, New York, NY 10034

The Inwood Hill Park-hugging Isham Park is known for its bountiful marble outcroppings and scenic views. The elevated park looks out towards the Hudson and Harlem rivers. The park is named after leather-merchant-turned-banker William Bradley Isham, who in 1864 purchased 24-acres for a summer estate. Nowadays, the park's "rolling topography" is popular with families and children.

Park Terrace West
New York, NY 10034

10. Eleanor's Pier

New York, NY

Roosevelt Island's Eleanor's Pier opened just a few weeks ago. The park has completely unobstructed views of Manhattan, and, taking a cue from Williamsburg's ever-popular destination, hosts a Smorgasburg-style food market on the weekends. The pier is operated by the Hudson and Related Companies.

11. Alice's Garden

New York, NY

The little piece of land that is Alice's Garden is a lesser-traversed lot above the Lincoln Tunnel at 34th Street between Tenth and Dyer avenues. The Port Authority-owned lot is named after its former caretaker Alice Parsekian, who passed away in 2010. The park is a green oasis in the midsts of the Midtown crowds.

12. Murray Playground

Queens, NY 11101

The John F. Murray Playground park occupies a whole block in the rapidly-changing Court Square neighborhood of Queens. The newly renovated park is not just a place for tots, but also has lots of benches and meandering walkways for visitors.

13. Owl's Head Park

68th St., Brooklyn, NY 11220

Bay Ridge's Owl's Head Park serves visitors and dogs faithfully with its premium snow-sledding hill, 150-foot-long by 40-foot-wide dog run, one of Brooklyn's only city skate parks, and views to New York Harbor. Image via Flickr.

68th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11220

14. The Garden at St. Luke in the Fields

487 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

The walled, two-third-of-an-acre park in the West Village is a space for quiet and introspection. The gardens, interspersed with winding walks, are open to the community between 8 a.m. and dusk.

487 Hudson St
New York, NY 10014

15. Samuel Paley Park

3 E 53rd St, New York, NY 10022

Although not a park in the traditional, abundant greenery sense, Paley Park is still a respite from the hustle and bustle of Midtown. The East 53rd Street area is surrounded by buildings on three sides. The park's pièce de résistance is its 20-foot-tall wall of cascading water. Image via Yelp.

3 E 53rd St
New York, NY 10022

16. Greenacre Park

217 E 51st St, New York, NY 10022

Similar to Paley Park, Midtown East's Greenacre Park is also an urban respite with a 25-foot-high fountain wall. It's been charming Midtown grazers and business men and woman since 1971. Image via Flickr.

217 E 51st St
New York, NY 10022

17. Socrates Sculpture Park

3205 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City, NY 11106

The Astoria park on a former landfill and illegal dumping site is the largest park in the city dedicated to showcasing sculptures. The four-acre park where the Harlem and East rivers meet gained permanent park status in 1998.

3205 Vernon Blvd
Long Island City, NY 11106

18. Elizabeth Street Garden

209 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012

The community garden in Little Italy which began accepting visitors last year sits partially on the former site of P.S. 106 (P.S. 21). Visitors can enjoy its curious variety of marble and cast sculptures, and take heed: the community garden is still vulnerable to development. Better get your lounging in while you can. The garden is open from noon to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays through Fridays, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Image via Washington Square Park Blog.

209 Elizabeth St
New York, NY 10012

19. Gil Hodges Community Garden

Brooklyn, NY 11215

The small Gowanus community garden underwent a neat renovation in 2013 that turned the 32-year-old space into a water-filtering landscape. The renovation included the installation of bioswales, rain gardens and permeable pavers that filter water en route to the nearby Gowanus Canal. Scent-o-philes, take note: the park is sponsored by London perfumery Jo Malone, and includes a "fragrance walk" with textural and fragrant plants. Image via Facebook.

20. Elevated Acre

55 Water St, New York, NY 10004

Similar to the High Line, the Elevated Acre is a lifted park that's entered via a nondescript elevator. While the park is certainly known to those who work in the area—a favorite spot for outdoor lunch—it doesn't avail itself to the casual meanderer. Hang here for views of the Brooklyn Bridge. Image via Untapped Cities.

55 Water St
New York, NY 10004

21. Erie Basin Park

1 Beard St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

Never heard of Erie Basin Park? Maybe that's because it's not owned by the city, but by the Red Hook waterfront-hugging Ikea. The park, which opened in 2008, is the result of a demand issued by the City Planning Commission when it allowed the mega-retailer to take over the former Todd Shipyard, which dated back to the Civil War. Visitors to the park can arrive via the Water Taxi to enjoy the park's lower Manhattan and Staten Island views.

1 Beard St
Brooklyn, NY 11231

22. Lt. Lia Playground

Staten Island, NY 10301

This terraced St. George park is ideal for idle gazing: parts of the playground and park overlook the harbor and lower Manhattan. Image via Bridge and Tunnel Club.

23. Schmul Park

Wild Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10314

Schmul Park, a small piece of the larger Freshkills Park, opened in 2012 following a $6.5 million renovation. Although its a hike from, say, Midtown, the park has some architectural noteriety to it: the park itself was designed by James Corner Field Operations, and its new comfort station was designed by BKSK Architects. Unlike Freshkills, Schmul Park can be enjoyed now—the rest of the 2,200-acre park will be in development, in phases, through 2036.

Wild Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10314

24. Septuagesimo Uno Park

West 71st St., New York, NY 10023

This teeny-tiny Upper West Side park is almost, almost the city's smallest park at .04 acres. The park, once named the 71st Street Plot, was renamed in 2000 to "approve its appeal."

West 71st St.
New York, NY 10023

25. Shore Road Park and Parkway

Brooklyn, NY 11209

The park that stretches under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is an ideal place to catch the sunset and some sights, including the Statue of Liberty, Fort Wadsworth, One World Trade Center, and Fort Hamilton Army Base. Those looking to run, walk, or bike are welcome to move along the park's 4.5 mile shore-hugging path.

26. Alice Austen House

2 Hylan Blvd, Staten Island, NY 10305

The grand home and these picturesque grounds were once the domain of early woman photographer Alice Austen. Austen lived and worked in the home until the Great Depression. These days, its grounds have been replanted to reflect the species present in Austen's photograph. The home is one of 17 historic houses under the jurisdiction of Parks and the Historical House Trust of New York City.

2 Hylan Blvd
Staten Island, NY 10305

27. Fort Washington Park

Hudson River Greenway, New York, NY 10032

Check out The Little Red Lighthouse, the only lighthouse on the island of Manhattan, in Fort Washington Park. The lighthouse is right under the George Washington Bridge, and is accessible by bike via the Hudson River Greenway. Views towards the Palisades are stunning, too.

Hudson River Greenway
New York, NY 10032

28. Fulton Park

Fulton St., Brooklyn, NY 11233

Visitors to this neighborhood park can enjoy its bountiful foliage and benches.

Fulton St.
Brooklyn, NY 11233

29. Fort Totten Park

Totten Road, Queens, NY 11360

Fort Totten Park is nestled amongst a well-preserved Civil War-era fortress. Visitors can take advantage of the park's pool, lounge in its grass, or take canoes out into the Long Island Sound.

Totten Road
Queens, NY 11360