Apart from the infamous concrete jungle of where some dreams are made, the borough of Manhattan is home to numerous beautiful parks as well. While we all know and love the central one, sometimes it’s nice not having to look out for super-vigorous runners or sporadic intervals of horse dung piles. If you just want to sit somewhere among the trees in silence and have a quality time, you better check out these lesser known parks.
1. Fort Tyron Park
Unlike the lower part of the island, neighborhoods with “Heights” in their names are rather hilly. That being said, arguably one of the most scenic spots in NYC is Washington Heights’ own Fort Tryon Park, located alongside the Hudson River. Enter the park from 195th and Broadway; you may instantly forget that you’re still in Manhattan. Up the hills are the Cloisters, a reconstructed Revolutionary War fortress which is now a museum. The walking path and the gardens are indescribably picturesque, and the view of New Jersey across the river is a cherry on top.
2. Morningside Park
This narrow bit of “nature” in Morningside Heights (hint: very hilly) starts near the northern end of Central Park and goes on for some thirteen blocks, showing off its dramatic landscape. Sure, if you look at it on a map, it’s just a few avenues wide, but boy, is it a hike-worthy incline! This incredible park is built on, what I would call, a cliff. The experience of looking “up” (or down) the avenue(s) is really something. The walking path gives all the pleasure of climbing up and towards the west side even when the MTA announces that there will be no red line trains working in uptown Manhattan.
3. Sakura Park
Named after more than 2000 Sakura trees planted in it, this cherry-blossom-dominant park is one of the Morningside Heights’ neighborhood gems. Peaceful and quiet (other than, perhaps, some hard-working musicians from the Manhattan School of Music just next block), the park is sort of a freestanding island located between the magnificent Riverside Church and International House. It’s also adjacent to General Grant National Memorial Park with all the yellow ginkgo trees. Words are futile to depict the beauty; you must visit!
4. The Gardens at St. Luke’s in the Fields
My first thoughts when I saw these gardens were “Uh, am I allowed to go in here?” Well, if it’s during a reasonable daylight hour or early evening, these amazing little gardens are open to public! Being only two-thirds of an acre, it doesn’t offer that much of a walking path, but it’s definitely a lovely space for some introspective time. Next time you visit the West Village, come and observe a wide variety of flowers, birds, and butterflies!