5 New York City Parks to Explore
Despite being the most populous city in the United States, New York City is filled with lots of beautiful green spaces set aside, nurtured and protected for us to enjoy. In fact, New York City has 28,000 acres of municipal parkland.
Let’s look at a handful of the 100s of parks you can enjoy in New York City. You’re sure to find a park activity you’ll love, many of which can be shared with family, friends and grandkids.
In 1853, the New York State Legislature set aside 750 acres of land central to Manhattan Island to create what is now known as Central Park, the first major landscaped public park in the United States. By the early 20th century, the park fell into total disrepair and it wasn’t until the 1980s that the park began its journey to once again be a place of beauty and a safe place for people to bring their families.
Today, with 843 acres, Central Park is filled with a multitude of activities and amenities including athletic courts and fields, six miles of bicycling paths, an off-leash dog-friendly area, multiple fishing areas, Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater, two ice skating rinks, a nature center, an outdoor pool, paddleboat rentals, more than 20 playgrounds (most are wheelchair accessible) and so much more.
Some of the more popular attractions within the park include:
- Central Park Zoo which is a state-of-the-art facility built in 1984 showcasing animals from temperate, tropical and polar areas around the world
- The Obelisk is the oldest man-made object in the Park. Originally built on the banks of the Nile circa 1450 BC, it was moved to and erected in Central Park in 1881.
- The Carousel, crafted in 1908 and containing 57 magnificent horses, is one of the largest and oldest carousels in the United States
- Wollman Rink has been a popular ice skating destination since 1858
Being part of the Brooklyn-Queens Greenway and containing 526 acres, Prospect Park is one of the largest parks in New York City. There are thousands of things to do at Prospect Park which has athletic courts and fields, barbequing areas, a one mile bikeway, an off-leash dog-friendly area, fishing, four easy hiking trails, Lefferts Historic House, a 3.5-mile-long bridle path, an Audubon Center, multiple playgrounds (most are wheelchair accessible) and so much more.
Some of the more popular attractions in the park include:
- The Prospect Park Zoo houses nearly 400 animals of more than 100 species with exhibits featuring animals in environments mirroring their natural habitats
- At the Bronx Zoo Treetop Adventure, you can challenge yourself on ropes courses that range from beginner to expert or fly over the river and treetops on a 400-foot zip line
- With seasonal roller skating, ice skating, biking, boating and water play, the LeFrak Center at Lakeside is a popular scenic and recreational destination
- With 53 magnificently carved horses, various other animals and two dragon-pulled chariots, the Carousel is one of the Park’s most popular attractions
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
The site of two twentieth-century World’s Fairs, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is the largest park in Queens. It offers a large number of amenities including athletic courts and fields, one mile of bicycling and greenways, a dog-friendly area, fishing, golf, an indoor pool, model aircraft field, paddleboat rentals, multiple playgrounds (most are wheelchair accessible) and so much more.
Its many attractions continue to delight visitors today including:
- Covering 18 acres, the Queens Zoo houses more than 75 species of animals native to the Americas and contains a large geodesic dome that serves to house the zoo’s aviary
- Sprawling across 39 acres, the Queens Botanical Garden celebrates people, plants and cultures through inspiring gardens and innovative educational programs
- The Queens Museum is an art museum and educational center
- The New York Hall of Science is an interactive hands-on science museum whose mission is to nurture generations of critical thinkers, passionate learners and active citizens through an approach they call, Design Make Play
- An 18-hole Pitch & Putt golf course and an 18-hole miniature golf course provide hours of golfing fun for all ages
Forest Park, a 538-acre “knob and kettle” landscaped (a series of small hills) park in Queens, contains 165 acres of trees, three designated hiking trails, a four-mile equestrian path, athletic fields and courts, barbequing areas, 2 miles of bicycling and greenways, two dog-friendly areas, a model aircraft field, multiple playgrounds (most are wheelchair accessible) and so much more.
Some of its more popular attractions include:
- Free concerts throughout the warm season at the George Seuffert, Sr. Bandshell
- One of the City’s most challenging golf courses, a 110-acre, par 67 golf course modeled after Scottish links
- Urban Park Rangers events which cover topics such as animals, forestry and geology
Pelham Bay Park
More than three times the size of Central Park with 2,772 acres, the Bronx’s Pelham Bay Park is New York City’s largest park. The park contains 13 miles of saltwater shoreline hugging Long Island Sound, a bridle path, Kazimiroff nature and hiking trail, athletic fields and courts, barbequing areas, 5 miles of bicycling and greenways, a dog-friendly area, Littleleaf Linden Grove at the Pelham Bay Park War Memorial, Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum and so much more.
Popular Pelham Bay Park attractions you’re sure to enjoy include:
- Pelham Bay & Split Rock Golf Courses, New York City’s only 36-hole golf facility, is easily accessible from all five boroughs
- With a unique hexagonal-block promenade, the Orchard Beach and Promenade is a 115-acre 1.1-mile long public beach. It has two picnic areas, two playgrounds and athletic courts.
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