5 underrated parks in Manhattan, Bronx and Brooklyn

Everyone knows how gorgeous Central Park and Prospect Park are but New York City is actually much greener than you might think.

Throughout the boroughs, peaceful parks and gardens, beautify neighborhoods and provide a taste of nature in the big city.

Ahead, you find 5 of them to check out. Roll out your picknick blanket and relax the day away on one of those perfect New York City afternoons.

Fort Tyron Park, Manhattan

Fort Tyron Park, Manhattan, New York City
Photo courtesy of Lionel Martinez.
Fort Tyron Park, Manhattan, New York City

In Upper Manhattan, you find the stunning Fort Tyron park with sweeping views of the Hudson River. It’s also home to the Met Cloisters, a Medieval museum and garden that looks like a European castle. There’s a flower garden, eight miles of walking/running paths, playgrounds, volleyball courts, built-in ping pong tables and Manhattan’s longest dog run. And it’s no wonder the park is so beautiful. Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., son of the architect who designed Central Park, designed this oasis. He was commissioned by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who began acquiring parcels of land in the city in 1917 “as part of his vision of developing a beautiful park with majestic views of the Hudson River and Palisades for the public,” the city recalls. The Olmsted Brothers designed the park and oversaw its construction between 1931 and 1935.

Wave Hill, Bronx

Wave Hill Park, Bronx, New York City
Wave Hill Park, Bronx, New York City

Billed as a “garden of wonders,” Wave Hill in the Bronx truly is a wonder to behold. Founded in 1965, its 28 acres overlooking the Hudson River boast manicured gardens, greenhouses, a wooded area, as well as a cafe and a gift shop.

Wave Hill is a living collection of more than 4,000 varieties of trees, shrubs, vines and herbaceous plants. It combines classic horticultural craftsmanship and daring design.

The park plays host to art exhibits, live performances, walking tours and workshops for children, bird enthusiasts, and more. Admission is $10 for adults plus $10 for parking; it’s also accessible via Metro-North and a shuttle service.

Conservatory Garden, Manhattan

Conservatory Garden in Central Park, Manhattan, New York City
Conservatory Garden in Central Park, Manhattan, New York City

The Conservatory Garden is located on the East Side (between 104th and 106th St). It is Central Park’s only formal garden and an oasis of hedges, fountains, and flowers. With its’ three different gardens designed in French, Italian, and English styles I am calling all “Bridgerton” fans. 

The Garden opened in 1937 and is named for the glass conservatory that was built at this location in 1899. Even earlier, this area had a horticultural function. It housed a large greenhouse designed by Park co-designer Calvert Vaux for growing plants for the Park’s landscapes.

Right now, the French garden is under restoration but the Italian and English gardens are open. 

Martha P. Johnson State Park

Martha P. Johnson State Park, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York City
Martha P. Johnson Park, Brooklyn, New York City

Williamsburg’s new Domino Park has been getting a lot of attention the past few years. But the smaller Marsha P Johnson State Park (formerly known as East River State Park) has a charm all its own.

On February 1, 2020, the park was renamed in honor of Marsha P Johnson. She was a transgender woman of color who was a pioneer of the LGBTQ civil rights movement and a prominent figure in the Stonewall Uprising.

The seven-acre stretch along the East River has a sandy shore with a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline. There is a large grassy field for picnicking, napping, and games as well as a playground for little ones. One of the biggest draws is Smorgasburg which hosts a plethora of food vendors selling al fresco during warm-weather months.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, Roosevelt Island, Manhattan

Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, Roosevelt Island, Manhattan, New York City
Image by Kenlarry, Wikipedia
Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, Manhattan, New York City

Take a trip out to Roosevelt Island and check out the unique waterfront triangular park known as FDR Four Freedoms Park. A non-profit runs the tree-lined park with the mission to honor and preserve the late president’s legacy. It was designed by architect Louis Kahn, who admired Roosevelt greatly.

The name of the park comes from Roosevelt’s 1941 “Four Freedoms” speech in which he spoke of the freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

Reach out to me for a private tour to these parks or to other hidden gems away from the common tourist path. Let me show you the city!

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