New York City NYC Moving Guide

7 of the Best Lesser-Known Parks in New York

As much as I adore Central Park, it's not the only park in New York City. As a matter of fact, the Big Apple boasts dozens of well-kept parks and gardens that beg to be visited. Moving to New York City will give you an opportunity to get to know seven of the best parks in New York that are lesser-known but are surely worth your time.

1. Madison Square Park

fountain in the middle of Madison Square Park in New York City

Image via NYC Parks

Residents of Chelsea, The Flatiron District, Kips Bay and fashionable NoMad (North of Madison Square Park) have easy access to this park which begins at 23rd and Fifth Avenue/Broadway and stretches to 26th Street. Not only does the park provide a spot to relax and recoup, but the popular NYC burger joint Shack Shack has an outpost there, and the famed Eleven Madison Park –– a stellar restaurant that carries three Michelin stars–– sits across the street along the East Side.

2. Tompkins Square Park

bed of flowers in Tompkins Square Park

Image via NYC Parks

Once a haven for drug deals, this Alphabet City park has transformed over the past 20 years, and now attracts a slew of neighborhood locals. The park stretches from East 7th to East 10th Streets between Avenue A and Avenue B in the East Village.

There's so much to do in Tompkins Square Park.  Loved for its oversized dog run, this section of the park houses three doggie swimming pools, a tree deck, and bathing areas for Fido. The Annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade –– the biggest Halloween dog party in the country –– draws more than 400 pooches and 2,000 spectators and takes place in the dog park. Tompkins Square also hosts the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival every summer and a French film festival in June and July.

3. City Hall Park

Fountain surrounded by bushes in City Hall Park in New York City

Located in the Financial District, this park makes for terrific people watching as well as a great escape from bustling Wall Street and the surrounding area. As the starting point of the Brooklyn Bridge, City Hall Park feels more like a lush public garden than a city park. The well-manicured outdoor space boasts over a dozen monuments, and the restored Mould Fountain acts as a centerpiece. While sitting, standing, or strolling through City Hall Park, you can't ignore Lower Manhattan's architectural treasures including City Hall and the iconic Woolworth Building.

4. Bryant Park

Entrance to Bryant Park in New York City

This Midtown oasis is steps from Times Square and the Theater District but a world away from crowds and tourists. Besides providing a daily dose of nature, Bryant Park is home to myriad events including group yoga classes, Broadway in Bryant Park, free summer movies, the HBO Film Festival, and more. If you visit, don't be surprised when you find New Yorkers sitting and working on their laptops at café tables in the heart of the park. Bryant Park also happens to have some of the cleanest public restrooms in the city as well as the lovely Bryant Park Grill for fine dining.

5. Ruppert Park

common area of Ruppert Park in New York

Image via NYC Parks

This Yorkville oasis attracts mostly neighborhood denizens, but if you're ever passing through the East 90s, stop by. Ruppert Park belongs to Ruppert Towers, a high-rise development that was built in the 1970s, but it's free for all who look to retreat to a quiet place away from traffic. Located along Second Avenue between 90th and 91st Streets, Ruppert Park offers plenty of benches to catch some shade as well as a small playground.

6. Hudson River Park

walkway on Hudson River Park in New York

Add this to your list of city parks to check out. Opt for a stroll, jog, or bike ride along this 550-acre waterside park that connects Hell's Kitchen to Battery Park City. Hudson River Park begins at West 59th Street and extends all the way to Manhattan's edge on the West Side. Four dog parks, a dedicated bike path, tennis courts, beach volleyball courts, various public art projects, not to mention on-the-water activities such as kayaking, swimming, and sailing are some of the reasons Hudson River Park is a favorite among New Yorkers.

7. FDR Four Freedoms Park

patch of land in FDR Four Freedoms Park in New York

Take a quick tram ride from Midtown East and you'll discover this lovely green space on Roosevelt Island. Yes, Roosevelt Island is an island unto itself, but it's also considered part of Manhattan. The only New York State park that pays tribute to the legacy of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Four Freedoms is situated at the southern end of Roosevelt Island. Designed by famed architect Louis I. Kahn, the park has sweeping views of Manhattan and the East River.

New York public parks offer that green oasis that almost makes you forgot you're living in the concrete jungle. Whether you're brand new to NYC, or just haven't explored much, these parks are sure worth the visit.

About the author

Tracy Kaler

Tracy Kaler is a ballet dancer turned interior designer turned lifestyle and travel writer who blogs at tracysnewyorklife.com. A former Atlantan, you can now find her byline in The Telegraph, IN New York Magazine, TravelMag, National Geographic, Mabuhay Magazine, am New York and others. When she's not glued to her laptop, you'll find her wandering the streets of New York City or off discovering another part of the planet.

Leave a Comment