New York City is internationally known for its unique skyscrapers, bustling crosswalks and high population density. While many tourists venture out to see famous sights like the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State building, New York has one-of-a-kind parks and green spaces scattered throughout the city that are worth making a visit.
The High Line is a recent addition to New York City and it has quickly become an icon of modern design and repurposing of old infrastructure. It's not a park in the traditional sense but that's what makes it so unique. The entire park is elevated above the city on train tracks that have been abandoned since the mid-1980s. Since the track is narrow, only pedestrian traffic is allowed so there's no need to dodge bikers. The best part of The High Line is the view of the skyscrapers surrounding you as you weave in between, to the side and beneath all the buildings. This is a great spot to sit and people watch or take an afternoon stroll in the city away from the hustle beneath.
Central Park is an obvious, but must-see park to enjoy on any visit to New York. The park was opened in 1857 and now occupies nearly 4% of the total land area of Manhattan. The space is a great option for bikers since they have a dedicated path that circles the entire circumference of the park. There are numerous playgrounds, running paths and food vendors throughout the park so you can easily spend several hours wandering about this famous landmark.
New York City has several botanical gardens scattered throughout the different boroughs, but the Brooklyn Botanical Garden is the most famous for its size and array of various plant life. The entry cost is $10 for an adult ticket or $5 for students. The gardens are located in Brooklyns Prospect Park so visiting both together make for a nice afternoon. You'll find a large Japanese style garden onsite as well as a special Bonsai museum attached to the greenhouses. Be sure to arrive early because the gardens start to close as early as 4pm.
While not as well known as the one in Brooklyn, the Queens Botanical Gardens are a nice alternative and off the beaten path. This botanical garden is smaller but entrance is actually free during the off-season between November and March. Normal entrance during high season costs $4 for adults and $2 for students. One notable element of this garden is the fragrance walk, a small section dedicated to plants with strong and unique fragrances such as fennel, chocolate, mint and lavender. The garden is located just beside Chinatown in Queens so it's a one-hour train journey from Manhattan.
This park is probably most known now for the dramatic end scene in the original Men in Black movie. You'll find the New York State Pavilion including the Tent of Tomorrow and the two UFO-like observation towers, which were featured in the film. Originally built for the 1939 World's Fair and upgraded to host the fair again in 1965, this park still feels like you're stuck in the '60s. But while it's slightly run down, the rust and disrepair give the space its charm. The park is also next to the New York Mets stadium so you can make a quick visit before or after a game if you plan on buying tickets.
Where is your favorite park in New York City?
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Auston grew up in Phoenix before escaping to Chicago in 2008. After 4 years working as an engineer, he sold his belongings and embarked on a round-the-world trip. After traveling non-stop for a year, he finally settled in Spain with his husband where he now calls home. When he's not traveling or writing guides about events, festivals or the best LGBT destinations, he enjoys the long sunny days and nightlife of Madrid. Read Auston's blog at Two Bad Tourists, or follow him on Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram.
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