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    The Great Outdoors... in New York City!
    Parks | Gardens | Beaches | Other Outdoor Spaces

    New York City Parks and BeachesNew York City is the greenest city in America, boasting 52,938 acres (more than 25%) of parks and open space out of 197,696 total acres.

    Central Park, Manhattan’s famed green oasis, is only number five on the list of the city’s ten largest parks. There are more than 750 different native species of animals and plants throughout the five boroughs, including the endangered peregrine falcon, the sharp-shinned hawk, and white tailed deer.

    Central Park and the Bronx’s New York Botanical Garden offer guided bird walks, and spring in Queens brings thousands of migrating shore birds to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge’s 10,000 acres. You're invited to join New Yorkers who jog, walk, bike, in-line skate, horseback ride, ice skate, rent row boats, play basketball, softball, soccer, and tennis, and enjoy special events and festivals, in the city’s 1,700 parks and playgrounds.

    In New York City’s famed Central Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, there are 843 acres of landscaped and recreational areas including a zoo, carousel, a reservoir, an ice-skating rink, a boathouse where you can rent rowboats, and plenty of trails for walking, jogging, bicycling, and horseback riding. It's a park for all seasons, from ice skating in winter to free, summertime performances of Shakespeare's plays, a Victorian-themed amusement park, and concerts on the Great Lawn that crescendo to dazzling displays of fireworks.

    For greenery, Riverside Park is a real haven. The only state park situated on Manhattan Island, this 28-acre multi-level park rises 69 feet above the Hudson River. Keep going, just past the George Washington Bridge, to the very top of the island, and you will discover Fort Tyron Park, which houses the Metropolitan Museum of Art's medieval art collection in the Cloisters.

    At the southern tip of Manhattan, from West and Chambers streets south and west to the Hudson River, are Battery Park City’s 30 acres of gardens, playgrounds, one-mile esplanade, public art, and views of the Hudson River. Also in Manhattan is Bryant Park, which comprises eight restored acres in Midtown behind the New York Public Library. This urban oasis has chairs, benches, gardens, fountain, carousel, and restaurants plus a full schedule of free entertainment including, music, movies, and special events.

    Brooklyn boasts a beautiful Olmsted-designed park, 520-acre Prospect Park. Here you’ll find a zoo, Civil War memorial arch, and 1776 Dutch colonial homestead.

    A full 24% of the Bronx’s 42 square miles is parkland. Van Cortlandt Park covers nearly two square miles and has boating, horseback riding, cricket, golf, picnicking, and tennis as well as the country’s oldest municipal golf course, built in 1895. Also in the Bronx is Pelham Bay Park whose 2,700 acres include a beach, cycling, boats, fishing, horses, picnicking, and tennis.

    In Queens, the Alley Pond Environmental Center has 650 acres of woodland, meadows, fresh/saltwater marshes, and nature trails while the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge comprises more than 9,150 acres of diverse land and water habitats and is renowned as a prime birding spot where thousands of water, land, and shorebirds stop during migration. More than 325 species have been recorded here during the last 25 years.

    Also in Queens is Flushing Meadow-Corona Park's 1,255 acres. This vast park has been the site of two World's Fairs (1939 and 1964), is home to the Unisphere, the Queens Museum of Art, the New York Hall of Science, Shea Stadium (home of the New York Mets), the Queens Theatre in the Park, the USTA National Tennis Center (home of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships), the Queens Zoo, and the Queens Botanical Garden, not to mention that is also has meadows, lakes, and athletic fields.

    In Staten Island, Blue Heron Park and Nature Center is a 147-acre park that is a habitat of the blue heron and that includes hiking trails and picnic areas as well as Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve, which has hiking trails and bridle paths that run through 260-plus acres of bogs, ponds, sand barrens, woodlands, and spring-fed streams. Also on Staten Island is The Greenbelt, a 2,800-acres nature preserve that includes High Rock Park and the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge.

    Gardens large and small, exotic and traditional, bloom throughout New York City. Each of the five boroughs has lovely year-round botanical gardens, and numerous garden-related events.

    Start your tour of New York gardens in Central Park’s Conservatory Garden. Its six lush acres -- the city’s only formal European-style garden – has the most varied collection of flora in Manhattan. With your appetite whetted, head to the renowned Brooklyn Botanic Garden, a 52-acre urban oasis with specialty gardens and world-class collections. In the Bronx is the New York Botanical Garden, one of America’s foremost public gardens as well as a National Historic Landmark. In its center is the 40-acre New York Botanical Garden Forest: wild and wonderful, it is the only uncut woodland in New York City. Also in the Bronx is Wave Hill on the scenic banks of the Hudson River. This 28-acre estate’s horticultural collections contain 1,151 genera and 3,236 species of plants. At the Queens Botanical Garden you’ll see formal gardens; bee, bird, woodland, herb, perennial and herb gardens; and an arboretum spanning 39 acres. With more than 8,000 plants, its Rose Garden is one of the largest in the Northeast. The weeping willows and lily pond in the Wedding Garden guarantee heavy bridal traffic during summer weekends. The Staten Island Botanical Garden features 25 gardens spread over 50 acres in addition to the area’s largest perennial garden and numerous, smaller themed gardens, such as one for roses, one to attract butterflies, and another for herbs.

    For a totally unique garden experience, head to The Cloisters’ (the beautiful location for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s medieval art collection) medieval herb garden, 250 species planted around a fountain in a pink-and-white marble columned enclosure overlooking the Hudson River. Three of the cloisters feature gardens planted according to horticultural information found in medieval treatises and poetry, garden documents and herbals, and medieval works of art, such as tapestries, stained-glass windows, and column capitals.

    Did you know you could surf in New York City? Yes, we have beaches! Rockaway Beach in Queens is America’s longest municipal beach, with almost 10 miles for sun worshippers and sand castle builders.

    In Brooklyn is famed Coney Island beach. In addition to a large strip of sand, there’s a boardwalk with rides and games of chance, the Cyclone roller coaster, a sideshow, museum, flea markets, the beautiful new Brooklyn Cyclones baseball stadium, and the fantastic New York Aquarium.

    Orchard Beach in the Bronx is an elegant mile-long crescent. Known as the "Bronx Riviera," it is the borough’s most popular summertime meeting place. There’s a boardwalk for people-watching, a band shell where weekend concerts are held, and tennis, paddleball, and basketball courts.

    Staten Island’s South Beach has a beautiful view of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, a 7,500-foot-long boardwalk – the fourth largest in the world – as well as a playground, bocce courts, roller hockey rink, shuffleboard, ball fields, and picnic areas.

    Gateway National Recreation Area stretches across Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. Here, fantastic beaches, old military forts, and wildlife are the big draws of this unexpectedly diverse park with an assortment of activities from beachcombing to aviation history. The concept of the urban natural park emerged in the United States in the 1960s. One of the first in the country to be set up by the National Park System, Gateway National Recreation Area protects wilderness along the city's south shore, combining native wildlife, public beaches, and historic structures.

    Other Outdoor Spaces
    The Bronx Zoo is the largest urban zoo in the country. It is home to more than 4,000 animals representing more than 600 species, housed in mostly outdoor, park-like settings.

    Sunset Park's Green-Wood Cemetery is one of the world's most beautiful cemeteries. With a spectacular harbor view and 478 acres filled with thousands of trees, flowering shrubs, and four lakes, Green-Wood is the eternal resting place of a who's who of famous folks including Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Morse, F.A.O. Schwarz, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Charles Tiffany, and "Boss" Tweed.

    About the Author...
    NYC & Company, the city’s official tourism marketing organization, is a private, membership-based non-profit dedicated to building New York City’s economy and positive image through tourism and convention development, major events and the marketing of the city on a worldwide basis. For more information go to www.nycvisit.com.
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