29 of the Best Parks in NYC for Sunsets, Picnics, Views, Playgrounds, Pools & More

Manhattan from Sunset Park Brooklyn NYC New York

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Looking for the best parks in NYC to enjoy good weather and good company? From Brooklyn to the Bronx, there are countless green spaces and pocket parks in NYC to help you escape the concrete jungle and lose yourself in quiet natural surroundings.

New York parks vary widely, from sprawling acreage filled with lush foliage and gardens to strips of grass that are perfect for a picnic overlooking the water.

Playgrounds are plentiful — if you know where to look!

And let’s not forget our furry friends who want to let loose of the leash.

Whatever type of outing you’re looking for, the incredible variety of New York City parks will meet your needs!

You might also like our guides to romantic things to do in NYC and unique things to do in NYC if you like getting off the beaten path.

And you can make your wallet stretch beyond strolls in the parks with these budget-friendly things to do in New York.

The Best New York Parks

Our guide starts in New York Harbor before ferrying back over to Lower Manhattan; from there we go into Midtown before following the Hudson up to the edge of the Bronx.

Then, we’ll cut across to Queens, down to Brooklyn, and finally end up in the upper reaches of the Bronx where it borders Westchester County.

Wherever you are in NYC, whatever you’re hoping to do on a nice day outdoors, these parks span the entire city and all interests!

The Hills at Governors Island

Views of New York Harbor could not be more stunning than from The Hills at Governors Island (10 S St, Slip 7).

At 70 feet above sea level, you can enjoy a stunning glance at the Statue of Liberty at what once was an abandoned military base.

Kids especially love Slide Hill, with New York’s longest slide at a whopping 57 feet!

While Governors Island has been open to the public since 2016, it is still in development–look out for a 2-mile promenade in the coming years!

Chairs facing the skyline in New York City from Governors Island

Battery Park NYC

Located in bustling lower Manhattan, Battery Park, or The Battery (State St and Battery Pl), is easily one of the most beautiful parks in New York City.

There is so much to explore at The Battery, including gardens, an urban farm, wooded areas, a bikeway, and a creatively-designed playground.

The jewel of The Battery might just be the SeaGlass Carousel, a magical underwater-themed experience for kids of all ages.

Battery Park kids park NYC New York

Liberty Park NYC

An elevated park by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, Liberty Park (155 Cedar St) offers a 1-acre space to appreciate this significant part of Lower Manhattan.

The park is also a green roof, maximizing the space of the World Trade Center Vehicle Security Center building.

In the park, be sure to check out the Anne Frank tree, the “America’s Response Monument”, and the Koenig Sphere.

Columbus Park NYC

Columbus Park is bordered by Baxter, Mulberry, and Bayard Streets and is one of the city’s oldest parks, located in one of the oldest residential areas in Manhattan.

You’ll find basketball courts, soccer fields, a playground, water fountains, and public artwork on display in this green space.

This is one of several parks in New York that you can get to by walking in Manhattan, and is close to many subway stations.

Tompkins Square Park NYC

If you’re looking for unique parks to visit in NYC, be sure to add Tompkins Square Park (Ave A to Ave B, 7 St to E 10 St) to your list.

Located in the center of East Village, you’ll find artists sprawling out on the grass at any time of year.

This park is made extra special thanks to its hosting of several annual performances, including Wigstock (a drag festival), the Howl Festival (celebrating the life and work of Allen Ginsberg), and the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival.

A blue bike at Tompkins Square Park, in the East Village, Manhattan, New York City New York

Washington Square Park NYC

Washington Square Park (5th Ave, Waverly Pl, 4 St, and Macdougal St) is a popular park in New York for artists, chess players, and picnickers.

You’ll find play areas for children and dogs, a gorgeous fountain, and flowering gardens with shady trees.

The most iconic feature of the park is the marble Washington Square Arch, though you can find lots of other monuments throughout the green space.

During winter, the neighborhood’s Christmas tree sits under the arch and is one of the landmarks noted in our Christmas decorations guide.

Washington Arch Washington Square Park in NYC New York fall

Union Square Park NYC

Union Square Park (Broadway to 4 Ave, E 14 St to E 17 St) is one of the most famous parks in New York, thanks to its deep history as a community organizing space and hub for workers’ rallies.

Besides its historical significance in Manhattan, Union Square Park is also known for its near-daily produce market, free wifi, and popular dog park.

You’ll find statues throughout the park, including ones of George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Mohandas Gandhi, and Marquis de Lafayette.

The festive holiday market is a popular annual event you won’t want to miss; check out all our suggestions for Christmas in NYC for more festive fun!

Union Square Holiday Market at night in NYC New York

Floating Island NYC (Little Island)

Little Island, a very new NYC park that opened in 2021, was a $260 million gift to the city.

You can access this 2.7-acre park from 13th St within Hudson River Park, and it features performance spaces, open lawns, flowering gardens, and public art.

You might be able to identify some of the 350 species of plants within the gardens, or you can simply rest on the grass and admire views of the skyline and harbor.

The High Line NYC

While the High Line (multiple access entries) might not count for some as an official park of NYC, it is a public green space built on an elevated rail line, making it even more than a park.

Explore the public gardens, take part in programming, or simply walk along this elevated rail trail for a pleasant afternoon outdoors away from traffic and the busyness of the city.

We featured the High Line in our complete guide to free things to do in NYC, so make sure to check it out for even more free ideas!

Green and blooming elevated park, The High Line in New York

Hudson River Park NYC

One of the largest parks in NYC, Hudson River Park (353 West St) stretches for nearly four miles and welcomes more than 17 million people every year.

This park is most well-known for its public piers, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the harbor, community events, playgrounds, food trucks, and more.

Parking is available at Pier 40 and is open 24/7.

At Pier 26, you can go kayaking or go for a stroll through the Tribeca Native Boardwalk, which features five unique ecological zones that were native to the Hudson River area before human development.

Also in Hudson River Park, head to Pier 54 to see where the survivors of the tragic Titanic disaster disembarked from The Carpathia — the ship that came to their rescue.

Ironically, Pier 54 is connected to another tragedy that occurred three years later: the passenger ship Lusitania departed from here before being torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1915.

On a lighter note, Pier 51 in Hudson River Park boasts an incredible playground for kids that families won’t want to skip!

Madison Square Park NYC

Madison Square Park (11 Madison Ave) offers a beautiful escape amidst the towering buildings of Midtown.

With a dog run, a playground, and a performance venue, people gather here regularly.

This area has been a protected green space since 1686 as the city grew up around it, so don’t miss this slice of NYC history!

Bryant Park NYC

If you’re looking for the best parks in NYC with great programming for kids, Bryant Park (34th St) is the spot for you.

More than 1,000 free events take place every year in this busy park, including the famous Winter Village, free movies and live performances, and yoga classes.

The park’s restrooms, located on 42nd St, are also some of the most luxurious public bathrooms in the city, so be sure to check them out when you visit the park.

Bryant Park night winter fountain Manhattan NYC New York

Central Park NYC

You absolutely must visit one of the biggest parks in NYC, the famous Central Park (N 110 St to 59th St).

Spread across 843 acres, Central Park welcomes more than 42 million visitors every year.

Considered a true masterpiece of landscape architecture, Central Park is a natural respite for city dwellers and visitors from across the globe.

Central Park is perfect to visit during every season.

Cherry blossoms in front of a lake in Central Park, NYC.

In spring, enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms and lush greenery start to reemerge; in fall, bask in the beautiful foliage.

If you want to see more of the park than you think your legs can take you, take this private pedicab tour of Central Park to check out as much of it as you’d like!

Bridge 24 Central Park NYC New York

Billy Johnson Playground

Billy Johnson Playground (East Side at 67th) in Central Park is so unique that it should be considered a park on its own.

Designed by an architect who was inspired by the beauty of Central Park itself, each playground feature is created to blend into the surrounding landscape.

Accessible features include adaptive swings, a sand table, an accessible water feature, and an accessible ground surface.

Riverside Park NYC

Riverside Park is one of the coolest parks on the water in NYC, and it stretches for four miles between 72nd and 158th Streets.

Named as one of New York’s eight designated scenic landmarks, you’ll find different landscapes, a skate park, sports courts and fields, and tons of space to stretch out and picnic.

In the summers, you can also participate in forest bathing, a community event that helps New Yorkers connect more closely to nature, even in the busy city.

One of the most notable landmarks in Riverside Park is the General Grant National Memorial, although there are several other sculptures and memorials throughout the park.

General Grant National Memorial in New York City in Riverside Park

Fort Washington Park NYC

Located along the Hudson under the GW Bridge, Fort Washington Park (Hudson River Greenway) features an ADA-compliant path that connects Henry Hudson Parkway and Dyckman Street, a renovated playground, five volleyball courts, and more.

Bask in the beautiful views of the Palisades across the river in New Jersey.

The park’s 160 acres offer a delightful escape from the city with green space right on the water for the Washington Heights community and visitors to enjoy.

Fort Tryon Park

For a unique park in NYC, head to Fort Tryon Park (Riverside Dr to Broadway), which extends from the northern edge of Fort Washington Park up to The Met Cloisters.

Pups love Sir William’s Dog Run while kids love the multiple playgrounds available.

History buffs can learn about the Revolutionary War history here, while garden enthusiasts love NYC’s largest public garden: the Heather Garden.

Inwood Hill Park

Inwood Hill Park (Dyckman St, Hudson River) still retains notes of the land before it ever became New York City: you’ll find caves, valleys, and ridges in the forests and salt marshes that make up this public park in New York City.

This park really captures the natural beauty of the area, featuring hiking trails, a bike path, and excellent birdwatching opportunities.

For the more sport-inclined, Inwood Hill also offers athletic fields, a playground, and a dog park.

Randalls Island Park NYC

Randalls Island hosts the extensive Randall’s Island Park (10 Central Road), which boasts everything from mini-golf and yoga to waterfront paths and beautiful gardens.

Events are regularly held in the park, including outdoor movie nights, fun runs, and various festivals.

Note that parking is very limited on the island, so you may want to take the bus or walk or bike there instead.

Astoria Park, New York

While many people visit Astoria Park (19 St, Astoria Park St and Ditmars Blvd) for its playgrounds, trails, and sports courts, you might be especially excited to visit its pool.

Admission is free at the oldest and largest public pool in New York City, so you should definitely check it out and take a swim on the next hot summer’s day!

Astoria Park is located in Queens, just under the Robert F Kennedy Bridge and the steel-arch Hell Gate Bridge, both of which connect Queens to Randalls Island.

Roosevelt Island Parks

Roosevelt Island contains multiple parks and green spaces to enjoy, from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park on the southern tip to Lighthouse Park on the northern tip of the island, where you’ll find the Roosevelt Island Lighthouse.

Aerial drone photo Roosevelt Island Lighthouse

At just two miles long, you could certainly enjoy all of Roosevelt Island in a day!

Bask in the beautiful views of Manhattan

You can’t skip the iconic Roosevelt Island Tram (E 59th St & 2nd Avenue), which takes you from Manhattan 250 feet above the East River over to the island; just use your MetroCard for a ticket.

Plan to BBQ in Lighthouse Park at one of the first-come, first-served public BBQs.

McCarren Park

McCarren Park (Nassau Ave, Bayard, Leonard and N 12 Sts) in Brooklyn is one of several public parks in New York City with a pool, which is a lifeline on hot summer days.

You can find all kinds of people from every walk of life and of every age at this park, which makes it a perfect place to build community and get in touch with your neighbors.

McCarren Park is ideal for sport-lovers, with a running track, soccer, and bocce ball areas, as well as an outdoor fitness area.

Domino Park NYC

Domino Park (15 River St, Brooklyn) is located on the former site of the Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Today, it serves as a beautiful park for the community to gather outdoors.

It’s family-friendly and dog-friendly, and offers an ADA-accessible elevated walkway; there are also public bathrooms nearby.

You can also visit Other Half Brewing Company (34 River St) for a cold beer after spending time in the summer sun outdoors.

Located along the East River, you can enjoy gorgeous views of the Manhattan skyline from Domino Park, which are especially enjoyable at sunset and with the city lit up at night.

Domino Park views, sunset, night, Williamsburg, Manhattan, Brooklyn over the East River NYC New York

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn Bridge Park is one of the best parks in NYC for picnics, thanks to its incredible views of the harbor and, of course, the Brooklyn Bridge.

There are dozens of opportunities for activities, from sports to birding, fishing, and exploring public art.

There are also nine different playgrounds and play areas for children spread across the park, which makes it an amazing place to spend an entire day with kids.

Brooklyn Bridge Park encompasses John Street, Main Street, the Fulton Ferry, and Piers 1-6, some of which might be considered to be the DUMBO park in Brooklyn.

For an extra epic view, head up to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade for a higher vantage point of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline across the river; it’s a view that awed President Abraham Lincoln when he visited in 1864.

Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan views from Brooklyn Heights Promenade NYC New York

Fort Greene Park

If you’re looking for parks around NYC with a rich history, head to Fort Greene Park (Myrtle Ave, DeKalb Ave), one of the original sites for forts during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

Fort Greene Park was also Brooklyn’s first public park; today it features playgrounds and basketball and tennis courts.

You’ll also find the Prison Ship Martyr Monument, the site where 11,500 people who died in the Revolutionary War are buried in a crypt underneath it.

Prison Ship Martyrs Monument Fort Greene Park NYC New York City

Prospect Park New York

Prospect Park (95 Prospect Park West) is one of the most famous parks in NYC, and for good reason.

Ice skating in the winter, daily public events, and dozens of activities to take part in across this nearly 600-acre park make this park a favorite among locals and travelers alike.

The same men who designed Central Park — Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux — also designed Prospect Park in Brooklyn, which has been a community staple since the late 1800s.

Triumphal Arch at the Grand Army Plaza with green trees in the background in Prospect park, NYC.

Sunset Park New York

Considered one of the coolest hidden parks in NYC, Sunset Park (41 St, 44 St, 5 Ave, 7 Ave) is an all-around lovely place to visit.

From incredible views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline at sunset, playgrounds, and a volleyball court, as well as a swimming pool and bustling recreation center, visitors of all ages will find something to do or explore in Sunset Park.

The park is in the same area of Brooklyn named Sunset Park.

Manhattan from Sunset Park Brooklyn NYC New York

Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Flushing Meadows Corona Park (Grand Central Parkway, Van Wyck Exwy) is one of the busiest parks in Queens, New York because it would be tough to run out of things to do there.

You’ll find an indoor pool, a skating rink, sports fields and courts, walking trails, boating access, as well as cultural and historic sites to explore.

Walk around the site of two iconic World’s Fairs from the 1900s and revel in the rich history of this amazing green space.

Pelham Bay Park

If Central Park isn’t big enough for you, head to Pelham Bay Park (Bruckner Lbvd, Eastchester, Hutchinson), which is three times larger.

The largest park in NYC is the best escape from the city’s hustle; explore more than 13 miles of shoreline, hiking trails, and paths, and take advantage of the amazing birdwatching opportunities.

Pelham Bay Park is the northern border of The Bronx with Yonkers, so it’s right on the edge of city limits but well worth a visit.

Bronx Victory Memorial - New York Pelham Bay Park NYC

Final Words

Did we miss your favorite NYC park? Share it in the comments below!

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