The Best Places to Enjoy Nature in NYC 2022

nature in nyc central park

The Best Places to Enjoy Nature in NYC 2022!

Living in NYC, sometimes you can get caught up in the skyscrapers and dozens of cars you see driving by and you forget to spend some time admiring nature! Now that warmer weather is among us, it’s time to locate some nature escapes that the family can go to when it’s time to wind down. These are some of the best green spaces throughout NYC to take your family on a fun-filled nature adventure!

Make sure to keep your kids skin protected when they are spending time outside! Here are The Best Kid-Friendly Sunscreens for Summer 2022

Manhattan

The Ramble

A part of the famous Central Park Conservancy, The Ramble is a 36-acre wild garden where you can walk around and discover forest gardens and get lost within the beautiful scenery. This was one of the first parks to be built and is surrounded by a thriving wildlife habitat, and includes pathways, giant boulders, coves and rich forest gardens. It is also the center of birding activity within the park with over 230 species spotted.

Neighborhood: In between Upper West Side & Upper East Side

Learn more: centralparknyc.org

photo via centralparknyc.org

Central Park: Harlem Meer

Central Park is arguably the most well-known spot to find nature in NYC. Named after the Dutch word for lake, the Harlem Meer was originally designed to mark the former separate village of Harlem, and is now a great place for families to relax and enjoy nature. Come catch a glimpse of wildlife, such as fish, turtles, and waterfowl. In addition to enjoying the landscape, families can also have fun with catch-and-release fishing, park-related tours and exhibits, and skating or swimming at Lasker Rink.

Neighborhood: Harlem

Learn more: centralparknyc.org

The High Line

The perfect place to visit to be one with nature while also taking in the beautiful sights of NYC. The 1.45 mile-long walkway was first opened to the public in 2009. Situated along the High Line route is the Gansevoort Woodland, the Sundeck and Water Feature, Chelsea Market Passage, Chelsea Grasslands, Seating Steps, Wildflower Field, and the Radical Bench.

Neighborhood: Lower West Side

Learn more: thehighline.org

Conservatory Garden

The Conservatory Garden belongs to Central Park, sitting on six gorgeous acres of land. This blooming garden is known as the “formal” garden to Central Park where you can take in the sights of the beautiful Wisteria Pergola, Untermyer Fountain, and memorial fountain for renowned author Frances Hodgson Burnett. You can enter through the Parisian Vanderbilt gate on 104th and 105th Streets to experience these incredible scenes of nature.

Neighborhood: Upper East Side

Learn more: centralparknyc.org

Gardens of The Battery

For a peaceful and stunning atmosphere right in Battery Park, visit the Bosque Garden and Gardens of Remembrance at The Battery. Get waterfront views, enjoy the gardens which boast beautiful plants of all kinds, and see the cannons that once fortified the walls of Castle Clinton. And, if you want to take the little ones to see the Statue of Liberty without the hassle of catching the ferry, this is the perfect place with a clear view from the park!

Neighborhood: Battery Park

Learn More: thebattery.org

Fort Tyron Park

Now celebrating 85 years and located right above the Hudson River, this park is home to acres of elm trees, healths, and heathers that are in full bloom during the summer. You can even find online resources to take with you on your visit which will guide you through the Birds of Cabrini Woods Nature Sanctuary and the Fort Tyron Kids Nature Scavenger Hunt!

Neighborhood: Washington Heights

Learn more: forttyronparktrust.org

Fort Tryon Park : NYC Parks nature in nyc
photo via nycgovparks.org

91st Street Garden

Visit this nature scene that is home to hundreds of flowers, blooming roses of Sharon trees, giant hibiscus flowers, and monarch and swallowtail butterflies. This block has been carefully curated to create a peaceful atmosphere away from the bustling streets where you can immerse yourself in NYC’s nature.

Neighborhood: Riverside Park

Learn more: nycgovparks.org

Elizabeth Street Garden

Located between Prince and Spring Streets, this unique garden has provided the city with an abundance of greenery in what is a very concrete-filled neighborhood for nearly 200 years! The garden continues to serve as a recreational and educational space for members of the community.

Neighborhood: Little Italy and SoHo

Learn more: elizabethstreetgarden.org

Washington Square Park

Take a stroll down 5th Avenue, through the iconic Washington Square Arch and into Washington Square Park. Here, there are daffodils, irises, crocuses, and more! Have a picnic or enjoy a game of Chess under the Dogwood Trees.

Neighborhood: Greenwich Village

Learn More: washingtonsquareparkconservancy.org

Riverside Park

When visiting this popular park in NYC, families can spend time exploring the 400 acres of beautiful parkland and the monuments and memorials that are scattered around it. Some of the most popular destinations to admire in this park is the the middle Promenade where families can spend time biking, walking or running while also admiring the volunteer-maintained gardens and the stunning view of the Hudson River.

Neighborhood: Upper West Side

Learn More: riversideparknyc.org

Carl Schurz Park

Known for being one of the most beautiful urban small parks in the United States, Carl Schurz Park is only 15 acres and is the perfect place to visit when you are trying to get away from the craziness of NYC. This park is also the home of Gracie Mansion, which has continued to be the home to the sitting mayors of New York City and their families since 1942. Visitors can also spend some time searching for whatever wild flowers are in bloom for the season, which tend to be scattered throughout the park and their playground (you can take a look at what is in bloom and where to find them on their website).

Neighborhood: Yorkville

Learn More: carlschurzparknyc.org

Hallett Nature Sanctuary in Central Park

Consisting of four-acres, this woodland allows families to take a nice stroll along the park’s trails and explore all different types of nature. This park wasn’t restored and open to the public until the early 2000’s but has since then been a fun place for families to visit and hike while also admiring the beautiful nature that surrounds this hidden gem.

Neighborhood: Upper East Side

Learn More: centralparknyc.org

Brooklyn

Prospect Park: The Ravine

At the heart of Prospect Park, the ravine features beautiful foliage and calming streams. City kids will delight in the grandiose waterfall trails at the ravine, which has been the subject of restoration efforts since the mid-1990s. This “natural wonder” is Brooklyn’s only forest!

Neighborhood: Between the neighborhoods of Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Flatbush, and Windsor Terrace

Learn more: prospectpark.org

Prospect Park: The Penninsula and the Lullwater

The Peninsula overlooking Prospect Lake is a fantastic place for families to observe birds and ducks, as well as enjoy the restored, scenic views that are home to park wildlife. Along the north edge of the Peninsula, a footpath gracefully leads you under the Terrace bridge, along which the Lullwater proceeds. Nature thrives at the Lullwater, a 16.8-acre wetland in the heart of Brooklyn that leads from the Nethermead into the lake, which houses a variety of waterfowl and green heron.

Neighborhood: Between the neighborhoods of Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Flatbush, and Windsor Terrace

Learn more: prospectpark.org

Narrows Botanical Garden

Take your floral nature escape to the Narrows Botanical Garden where there are a variety of flowers and trees. You’ll find weeping willows, roses, linden trees, and water lilies. The garden aims to educate and entertain the public with their delightful gardens, promote the arts with free cultural events, and teach guests about the importance of preservation of the flora and fauna!

Neighborhood: Bay Ridge

Learn more: narrowsbg.org

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Enjoy Spanish Bluebells and yellow wildflowers along the East River! With a number of piers and gardens, the Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) consists of 85 beautiful, open acres. Visit the gardens, any of the piers, Main Street, and more.

Neighborhood: DUMBO

Learn More: brooklynbridgepark.org

Domino Park

Though there’s a volleyball court (closed at the moment), playground, and fun fountain at the park’s southern top, Domino Park pays tribute to its industrial history. The refinery’s crane tracks various species of plants for the public to enjoy and, stretched along the East River, families can enjoy seasonal flowers and a light breeze off the water while playing a game of bocce or hide and seek on the grounds, which span 6 acres!

Neighborhood: Williamsburg

Learn More: dominopark.com

Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Osborne Garden

This spot in Brooklyn Botanic Garden is the first one you pass through and is also one of the most beautiful sights to see! This Italianate garden features vibrant colors, especially in the Spring and summer, and has some architectural features and wisteria-draped pergolas to admire.

Neighborhood: Between the neighborhoods of Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens and Windsor Terrace

Learn More: www.bbg.org

Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Cranford Rose Garden

Known as one of the most popular attractions in BBG since it opened in 1928, The Cranford Rose Garden is in full bloom starting in June and these beautiful flowers are scattered across the garden, on pavilions and arches and of course are large flower beds. The rose garden is known as one of the largest collections in North America and has a variety of wild species of flowers that visitors will be able to see on display.

Neighborhood: Between the neighborhoods of Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens and Windsor Terrace

Learn More: www.bbg.org

Queens

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge: West Pond

What better place to find nature in NYC than a wildlife refuge? Renowned as a prime birding spot, the 9,000-acre Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge attracts thousands of land and shore birds who stop there during migration. In the last 25 years, over 330 species have been recorded at this nature refuge. The wide variety of bird species and the well-positioned benches around the trail at the 44-acre West Pond provide kids and families a remarkable place for bird watching.

Neighborhood: Broad Channel

Learn more: nycaudubon.org

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge: Big John’s Pond

Big John’s Pond is significantly smaller than West Pond. However, the duck blind designed specifically for observing wildlife and nature is a very popular place to bird watch around the pond. Another highlight of Big John’s Pond is the wooden nesting box, which barn owls call home in-season.

Neighborhood: Broad Channel

Learn more: nycaudubon.org

Socrates Sculpture Park

If you are a lover of art or are on the hunt to find the perfect place to relax and take some beautiful photos, then make sure to stop by Socrates Sculpture Park. This park was founded by a sculpture in 1986 and has since then been an accessible arts space dedicated to supporting artists. All of the artwork is temporarily on view which means you could be admiring new art every time you visit!

Neighborhood: Astoria 

Learn More: socratessculpturepark.org

Bronx

Pelham Bay Park: Turtle Cove

Pelham Bay Park is New York’s largest public park and boasts miles of bridle paths and hiking trails, as well as the Bartow-Pell Mansion, two golf courses, and a saltwater shoreline that stretches 13 miles along the Long Island Sound. Pelham Bay Park is also home to a diverse array of plant and animal life.

Neighborhood: Pelham Bay Park

Learn more: nycgovparks.org

Pelham Bay Park: Twin Island

Located off of the northernmost section of Orchard Beach is Pelham Bay Park’s Twin Island. A hike to the top provides beautiful views of the Long Island Sound. A quick loop around Twin Island makes for a nice jaunt for families with young children, (Check out the Kazimiroff Nature Trail on Hunter Island for a longer hike.)

Neighborhood: Pelham Bay Park

Learn more: nycgovparks.org

New York Botanical Garden: Azalea Garden

If you are a lover of all things flowers then the Azalea Gardens is the place to visit. This garden located in the New York Botanical Garden is filled with color during every season with plants in bloom nearly every day of the year! Aside from the white, coral, pink, and purple azalea blossoms you can see, the garden also has flowering trees, shrubs and more that you can see.

Neighborhood: New York Botanical Gardens

Learn More: www.nybg.org

Wave Hill: Wild Garden

Located at the highest point in Wave Hill, the Wild Garden is a great place to sit back and admire beautiful scenery and nature. Visitors can travel through the many winding paths of the garden to explore or there is the option of sitting and relaxing on the bench in the gazebo!

Location: Hudson Hill 

Learn More: www.wavehill.org

Staten Island

nature in nyc
photo via sigreenbelt.org

Staten Island Greenbelt: Moses Mountain

Families will be amazed by the tranquility of Staten Island Greenbelt, which consists of a contiguous series of forests, meadows, wetlands, ponds, and parks. At the heart of the Greenbelt, Moses Mountain is a premier place for families and kids to enjoy the thrill of nature. Moses Mountain hikers will be rewarded with panoramic views of the Greenbelt and New Jersey’s Atlantic Highlands.

Neighborhood: Egbertville

Learn more: sigreenbelt.org

Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden

Head over to Staten Island to see the expansive nature scene to experience the botanical gardens surrounded by cobblestone streets and paths of Victorian and Tudor homes. The most common attraction here is the Chinese Scholar’s Garden that is inspired by Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism with a bamboo forest path and Koi ponds.

Neighborhood: Snug Harbor

Learn more: snug-harbor.org

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