For most of us, being indoors for the last few months has not been easy, but now that the weather has been warming up, the sun and fresh air is all the more inviting. Nature and the outdoors are not only beneficial for our physical health but our mental health as well. Something we all need to keep in check, with a pandemic and its effects to think about. As the city’s lockdown measures are beginning to ease, and people are flocking outdoors, we’ve put together a list of some NYC parks you can visit in each borough. So throw on your walking shoes, get that bike out of storage, and take get ready to all those feel-good rays (safely, of course)!
Queens is New York City’s most culturally diverse when it comes to the people, food, and drink; but for those looking to avoid potentially crowded spaces, even as restrictions begin to lift, they also have some stellar outdoor spaces. Don’t forget to bring your takeout!
1. Astoria Park
Though the park is most widely known to those in the neighborhood for its popular and spacious pools—which reopens on August 1st if you feel inclined—it also has some other compelling facets, including outdoor tennis courts, a track, a bandstand, an array of trails, some basketball courts, and playgrounds. And if that isn’t enough, you also have an added bonus of Randall’s Island across the way, which you can access via the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge on foot.
Known for its role in the resurgence of the World’s Fair, and its concerts when we’re not distancing ourselves from large crowds, Corona Park also packs some pretty scenic trails and plenty of space for sports.
Located between the Grand Central Parkway and the Long Island Expressway, Cunnigham Park has several areas dedicated to biking and mountain biking, various sports fields/courts, and playgrounds. For those looking for a socially distant way to cool off this summer, they also have spray showers, and if you are looking for a better WFH view, they’ve got you covered with wi-fi hotspots.
Alley Pond is a cool one because of its hiking trails, where you encounter nature in the form of fresh and saltwater wetlands, forests, and more. It is also the first NYC park to have a ropes course—a feature that really calls to me— and an adventure program that teaches you how to canoe, use a compass, fish, and more, all within the city!
The hipsters may flock, but Brooklyn is pretty big when it comes to diverse music and entertainment. One thing we can all agree on is that its nature-focused spaces are just as brag-worthy and inviting as what you would find in close quarters.
1. Domino Park
This park was ahead of its time, being the first to establish its own socially distanced circles. Placed 6 ft apart from one another, you can be confident you’re doing it right and staying far enough from strangers. Built on the site of the former Domino Sugar Refinery, the park is 5 acres long and sits along the East River in Williamsburg.
With tons of space to spread out, Prospect Park is known for its various meadows, small bodies of water, a carousel (which you can’t ride ATM, but it is nice to look at), playgrounds, and a tennis center. Unfortunately, at least for now, you will have to go without their stellar roller rink.
3. Sunset Park
Hidden in the Brooklyn neighborhood of the same name, Sunset Park boasts an amazing view of the New York City skyline. It also has great amenities like a sand volleyball court, rec center, and a 9/11 Living Memorial Grove, which consists of 45 flowering trees, along with a garden of florals.
This well known BK gem hosts a variety of activities and areas for social distanced fun. With several piers for waterside tanning and frolicking, it is also a stop on the NYC ferry. Art installations, moveable furniture, and picnic areas also fill the park. While some sections are being closed out of COVID-19 safety concerns, there is plenty of space to spread out, get some fresh air, and enjoy the amenities that are still open.
The boogie-down Bronx is known as the birthplace of Hip-Hop and the home of the New York Yankees, but one of its lesser-known features is its array of beautiful open space parks. Overshadowed by the Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Gardens, there are some great greeneries to be explored.
As crazy as it may seem–and something I learned in my research–Pelham Bay Park is more than 3 times the size of Central Park. It boasts miles of paths and hiking trails, two golf courses, and many playgrounds and sports fields/courts. It is also home to Orchard Beach, which is also operating at 50% capacity, for those looking for some sun, sand, and water.
2. Tremont Park
Named for the neighborhood in which it is found, Tremont Park was originally built as part of the larger Crotona Park. It was renovated in 1995 to include chess and checkers game tables, spray showers, basketball courts, a baseball diamond, and many plants and trees.
Perhaps the most well-known park found in the Bronx, Van Cortlandt is home to two grilling locations, a Cross Country Running Course with 5–mile and 3–mile loops, horse stables, and a corresponding bridle path. Also, three nature trails, several dog runs, and 4 playgrounds. As far as social distancing is concerned, any place that can hold all that is definitely full of space.
Though not the most-visited borough, Staten Island has great green areas for outdoor activities. One place in particular seems to be most popular with locals.
The conservancy oversees 2,800 acres of fields, parks, and trails in central Staten Island. Its ‘Forever Wild‘ sites boast mature forests, wetlands, meadows, wildlife, and over 35-miles of marked hiking trails.
Saving the best for last, though I might be biased. Manhattan is often mocked as a concrete jungle, but we have our fair share of green spaces too.
1. Central Park
How can I highlight parks in Manhattan without mentioning the most visited park in the United States? Sprawling from 59th to 110th Street, there are ponds, picturesque statues, playgrounds, and more to explore. With tons of options for grassy areas, the park allows for massive opportunities to social distance, while basking in the sun. Bathrooms are now open again too—they weren’t when restrictions were heavier—which I’m sure is somewhat of a relief for those who like to linger longer.
2. Bryant Park
Another one of the city’s favorite outdoor areas (in any season), Bryant Park is located in a prime spot, near tons of food, and shopping options, which are only doing curbside pickup at this time. Their food stands are now open (Wafels & Dinges and Breads Bakery), allowing you the luxury of not having travel with food or grab takeout nearby.
3. Battery Park
I’ve taken advantage of this one many times lately. It’s right by the water, with views of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. There are many options for the hungry nearby as well, including Grand Banks, and—if you’re looking for more of a drinking atmosphere—City Vineyard, both of which are outdoors. Other amenities and fun activities include mini-golf (now open!) and their perennial gardens.
Riverside Park grew largely in popularity recently. Sprawling from 72nd to 158th streets along the Hudson River, its one downside to popularity is that it can get very crowded, very quickly. Its perks include a prime spot right by the water (the uptown portion), and a constant stream of gymnasts at the playground across the street. In addition to this, the park has sports courts and fields, a skate park, and a large path for bicycles.
Hopefully, this lengthy list has given you some prime inspo for picnics, play, and more while we weather the uncertain future. Enjoy the outdoors and don’t forget to wear a mask and keep your distance!Plug into our Instagram for more content!