Among the top tourist attractions on every visitor’s New York City must-see list is a walk through Central Park. And while the 843-acre park is one of NYC’s biggest green spaces (not to mention the most visited urban park in the U.S.), it’s not the only park in the five boroughs worth checking out. Whether it’s casual strolls, picnicking or other leisurely activities, here are seven under-the-radar NYC parks.
Gantry Plaza State Park
This 12-acre Long Island City park is located in a former dockyard and manufacturing district along the East River. In fact, a Pepsi bottling plant used to call this area home, and a giant, neon Pepsi-Cola sign still remains in the northern portion of the park. Gantry Park offers unobstructed views of the east side of Manhattan (especially the area around the United Nations building) and easy access to the ferries that travel between Queens, Brooklyn, and Midtown.
If there’s one park that comes close to the size of Central Park, it’s this one. This 585-acre Brooklyn park features a zoo, nature conservancy, boathouse, sports facilities, and Brooklyn’s only lake. The large Prospect Park Bandshell hosts many free outdoor concerts throughout the summer. Stroll through the space on any given weekend, and you’ll find Brooklynites from all over the borough sunbathing, picnicking and tossing frisbees.
Managed by the National Park Service, this 172-acre island is located about 800 yards from the southern tip of Manhattan and is accessible by ferry. Many New Yorkers visit the car-free island to take part in walking tours, bike rides, picnics, and drone races. But the most popular activity that takes place here is the annual Jazz Age Lawn Party, where participants dress and party like it’s 1929.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Originally built to host the 1939 New York World’s Fair, this Queens green space remains popular thanks in part to its close proximity to Citi Field (where the Mets play) and Arthur Ashe Stadium (home to the U.S. Open). Rumor has it, the park will soon be home to a music festival that could rival Lollapalooza or Coachella.
Inwood Hill Park
As its name suggests, this Manhattan park features mostly hilly, wooded areas. In fact, the public space contains the biggest remaining forested area on the island of Manhattan. If you want to take a hike through nature without having to leave the city, this is where you should head. Fun fact: this park is one of the best places to spot a bald eagle in New York City.
This pocket park is a hidden gem in bustling Midtown Manhattan. Located on 51st Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, this tiny spot (we’re talking 60-feet by 120-feet) sports a 25-foot-tall waterfall, lush greenery, and a stone sculpture wall. Plenty of tables and chairs make this the perfect (byo) lunch spot where New Yorkers can take a break from the busy city streets.