10 Best Nature Escapes in New York City
New York City really is the concrete jungle. Whether its subway crowds and delays, or pollution and overall stress from the city, locals and visitors can both get a little overwhelmed here.
Luckily, the city has a peaceful side. This side has kept me sane in this amazing, wonderful, and crazy place. Check ‘em out and add them to your saved spots on Google Maps!
1. Farmers Markets
Fresh and local fruits, veggies, goodies- perfect for weekend strolls.
One of the best ways to start a weekend morning is hitting up one of the city’s farmers markets. My personal favorite is the Abingdon Square Greenmarket- it’s in a beautiful, quiet part of the city. I love walking through it, chatting with local farmers and artisans, and obviously picking up a few too many things. The most popular is the Union Square Greenmarket, which is huge and fun.
You can also check out more greenmarkets throughout the city.
Manhattan- Multiple Locations
Find peace in a square that’s full of life.
I’m at this park at least once a week— the vibe is unbeatable. If you’re someone who likes to people watch, you need to check it out! Though it’s always full of people, I’ve never had an issue finding a bench to sit, read, and watch the musicians, artists, dancers, and people walking around. It’s also right by NYU and a bunch of great restaurants, including by CHLOE, and my favorite bubble tea spot in the city, Boba Guys.
Manhattan- Greenwich Village
Elevated views and apartment envy in ‘the park that almost wasn’t.’
Situated above Manhattan’s West Side is a 1.45 mile long former rail road track that was turned into a park when the track was going to be destroyed. It is now a place of greenery, blooms, art, and food.
It’s definitely an architectural escape— it was designed in 2004 by renowned architects and a planting designer. When walking through, you also see the gorgeous apartments that line the high line, which include Zara Hadid’s building.
This is also usually full of people but it’s long and easy to find a spot just for you.
Water views and barbecues.
This one’s a little off the beaten path from what you might see on ‘must visit’ lists. I happened upon this pier because of an event, and absolutely loved it. It’s right on the water, peaceful, and perfect for sunsets and picnics.
5. Bryant Park
Midtown park nestled between skyscrapers and a historic library.
This location both has a park with a killer view of the city (from the bottom up) and the beautiful New York Public Library. It’s right in the heart of Midtown, so it’s a great way to take a beat after visiting the Empire State Building, Herald Square, or anything in the area. If you’re in the mood for a treat, check out Lady M Cakes right by the park or Joe and the Juice for something a bit healthier. :)
6. Carol’s Cafe
Hidden outdoor cafe with greenery and a waterfall.
What a totally random find! I have Cathy from 700 Rivers to credit for this- she spent some time in NYC this summer and when walking (which is also how I pretty much find anything cool in the city too), was surprised to see a mini outdoor space and waterfall in the middle of a big-buildings-and-not-that-hip part of town. We checked out this spot, and had a lovely conversation outside with breakfast and smoothies.
Get lost in almost 70 acres of dazzling beauty.
If you’re not usually in Brooklyn, I promise this is worth the trek. Contained in this expansive garden are herb and vegetable gardens, gorgeous palace-type scenery, greenhouses, bonsai gardens, a great outdoor cafe, and more. It’s the place to catch cherry blossoms when they’re in bloom, or signs of Fall when leaves start falling. Most of all it’s a place to take in a moment to yourself and truly be present amongst nature.
Brooklyn, Prospect Park
A nature refuge with a pond, ducks, and field from your dreams.
Aside from the Botanical Garden, Prospect Park in Brooklyn also is a gorgeous park on its own. Neighborhood residents grab their coffees and head on in on one of its trails, to chill by its pond, to picnic in its large field, and more. It’s truly a gem and one to add Brooklyn to your next NYC visit for. Something right out of a fairy tale!
Brooklyn, Prospect Park
9. Battery Park
Breathtaking views on the Hudson.
If you’re thinking of going to Ellis Island to see the Statue of Liberty— more power to you, but I don’t think I would take the crowds or trip again. That might be because I frequent Battery Park, a huge park on the water with a gorgeous view of the Hudson River and the Statue of Liberty. It’s perfect to watch the sunset, see the city lit up at night, and even do outdoor yoga in the park in the summer. You can get lost in your thoughts looking out at the historic view and the city here.
Manhattan- Financial District
A classic New York experience.
Last but definitely not least is a favorite escape of mine. When you walk into (any of the several entrances of) Central Park, you really feel like you’re entering a different world. You don’t hear the sounds of the city, and things slow down as you discover the hills and drops and turns of the park. I’ve found so many spots to read, to reflect, to people watch, to see different views, to walk- the list goes on. No matter how ‘touristy’ Central Park is, and no matter how many people are there any given weekend, it never quite feels crowded- it’s that gigantic. And, it’s got something different to offer each season- whether it’s sunbathing on giant rocks (boulders?) in the Summer, witnessing the park come back to life in the Spring with blooms everywhere, walking through the changing colors in the Fall, or seeing a true Winter Wonderland.
Manhattan- Upper East/Upper West Side
Were some of your favorite NYC spots in the list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! :)
Thanks for reading!