With summer (hopefully!) just around the corner, we rounded up a few of our favorite spots to escape the tourists in our concrete jungle:
Elevated Acre – 55 Water Street, Financial District
Hidden between two buildings, the entrance to this sunny patch of Downtown Manhattan paradise looks as though it’s just a staircase leading to nowhere. Climb the three flights, however, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. A full acre of green space, surrounded by a seven-tiered amphitheater, overlooks the East River from the Brooklyn Bridge to Governor’s Island.
Insider Tip: A pair of peregrine falcons has nested on the 15th floor for years. Visit in the spring and you may catch one of the baby’s first flights.
Greenacre Park – 217 E. 51st Street, Midtown East
Featured on our walking tour of Midtown East, this hideaway is one of the few in the city that’s home to a café, a two-story waterfall and a babbling brook. A quiet urban oasis on off-times, this small slice of green space gets crowded with office workers during lunch, so plan accordingly.
Insider Tip: Leave Fido and your camera at home when you visit - dogs and photography aren’t allowed.
Ravine, Brooklyn – In Prospect Park, between Long Meadow and Nethermead
The same architect-landscaper team that masterminded Central Park also designed the only remaining forest in Brooklyn: the Ravine. Follow the path down a narrow gorge to Prospect Park’s most rugged terrain (read: not stroller friendly!) and a stream of flowing water.
Insider Tip: Guided discovery walks begin at the Audubon Center on Saturdays and Sundays at 3PM.
Wave Hill – West 249th Street, Bronx (free van service is provided off the #1 train at W. 242nd Street)
Think bullfrogs and hummingbirds only grace places outside of the Big Apple? Think again. This 28-acre park along the Hudson in the Bronx is home to a number of different plant and animal species as well as a flower garden, conservatory, woodland forest and aquatic pool.
Insider Tip: The park is $8 for adults but is free on Saturdays from 9AM to noon (year-round) and on Tuesdays (all day from Nov – April, July, August; 9AM to noon May, June, September, October)
Harlem Meer, Central Park – Fifth Avenue from 106th to 110th Street
If you’re looking to drown out the sounds of the city in Central Park, forget about Sheep Meadow and head over to Harlem Meer instead. Situated around a lake, this area is home to some of the oldest trees in Manhattan. While it gets crowded with families on weekends, it’s the perfect place to unwind during early mornings and weekdays.
Insider Tip: Bring your inner Huck Finn and fishing pole – the pond is known for it’s catch-and-release policy.