New York

Beyond Central Park: NYC's Green Spaces

Many first-time visitors to New York City get their urban park fix with a visit to the granddaddy of them all: Central Park. To be sure, this behemoth is a must-visit. But city-dwellers know there's much more green space to be explored and enjoyed across the great island of Manhattan and the other 4 boroughs. From rolling green fields and winding paths to waterfront greenways and even an elevated park, this city is home to many excellent -- and sometimes lesser-known -- spaces. Here's a look at our top 5 New York City park picks beyond Central Park.

NYC & Company / Joe Buglewicz

1. Prospect Park

Though it hardly has the notoriety of Central Park, Prospect Park -- a sprawling, 585-acre oasis in the heart of Brooklyn -- is another must-visit New York City green space. The 2 massive parks share the same designer and to be sure, have similar features. Visitors exploring Prospect Park will encounter the 90-acre Long Meadow, a honest-to-goodness forest, a 60-acre lake, a zoo and even the first urban Audubon Center in the United States.

Music lovers will obsess over the park's enormous Bandshell, which hosts live acts throughout the summer, including Jack Johnson, Wilco, Nick Cave and The National. History lovers should head to the 18th-century Lefferts Historic House, an interpretive space focusing on Brooklyn's environmental history from pre-Colonial times through the present day. Insider tip: If you fancy a ride, pay a visit to the park's Kensington Stables, where it's possible to rent horses.
NYC & Company / Marley White

2. Brooklyn Bridge Park

Partially tucked beneath the bridge after which it's named, Brooklyn Bridge Park has transformed the 85-acre swath of land adjacent to the East River into a green space complete with the best views of the Manhattan skyline from, well, pretty much anywhere; a restored 1920s carousel; a playground and sandbox; athletic fields and volleyball courts; concessionaires and more.

In the hipster haven that is Brooklyn, the park has also become a cornerstone of trendy events, concerts and activities like sunset pilates, hip-hop aerobics and Smorgasburg -- a weekly food truck extravaganza. Plan to visit the Civil War-era Tobacco Warehouse; now roofless, the space has morphed into a popular outdoor concert venue.
NYC & Company / Alexander Thompson

3. Riverside Park

Stretching 4 miles along the Hudson River's edge on Manhattan's Upper West Side, Riverside Park is a mecca for joggers, runners, walkers and bicyclists. From 75th Street to 158th Street, the park is chock-full of activities and amenities for parkgoers.

Visitors will find bicycle rentals, biking lanes along the Waterfront Greenway, walking paths, a skate park, sports courts, free kayak rentals, outdoor concert venues (with many summertime shows and events scheduled) and plenty of grassy knolls. Wannabe mariners can peek at boats docked at the 79th Street public marina while stopping for a drink or meal at the waterfront Boat Basin Cafe.

About the Author

Valerie Conners is a freelance writer, editor and producer who has worked with the Travel Channel for more than 14 years, specializing in travel topics including the world's best beaches, outdoor travel and romantic getaways. Her work also appears in many online and print publications including, Aol Travel, Discovery Channel, World Hum, Frommer's Travel Guides, the Boston Globe, Baltimore Sun and Philadelphia Inquirer. She's happiest when eating spicy Thai food, snorkeling with sea turtles in Indonesia and bargaining for bangles in Indian markets. She blogs about her travels at PassengerConners.com.

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