New York City

The Best Neighborhood Parks in Manhattan 

by Tracy Kaler  |  Published August 21, 2020

Summertime in New York promises pleasant weather and fewer crowds, ideal for spending more time out and about. Fortunately, the concrete jungle features an abundance of public parks in every area of the island, be it for running, dog walking, or connecting with nature. While Central Park may be the city’s most visited, photographed, and talked-about park, dozens of other outdoor green spaces punctuate the city’s diverse neighborhoods. Here’s a look at some of the best in Manhattan.

Carl Schurz Park is a jewel on the Upper East Side. (Photo: Tracy Kaler)

Carl Schurz Park

Few people know about this neighborhood jewel, a favorite among Upper East Siders, particularly those who live far east on York and East End Avenues. Showcasing lush gardens, sculptures, and elegant Gracie Mansion––the official residence of the Mayor of New York––the parcel stretches from 84th to 90th Streets and borders the East River. Carl Schurz also offers a dog park, playground, plenty of lawn space for sunbathing, and a peaceful promenade along the water, an excellent place for a stroll or jog.

Fort Tryon Park

Spanning 67 acres in Upper Manhattan, this Washington Heights park skirts the majestic Hudson River from West 192nd Street to Dyckman. A gift from John D. Rockefeller, Fort Tryon Park was designed in the 1930s by the celebrated Olmsted brothers of Central Park fame. The sprawling plot takes its name from Governor Sir William Tryon, honoring the British victory in the Battle of Fort Washington. Beyond dozens of landscaped paths, captivating views of the Hudson, and a garden with over 500 plantings, the park is also home to the Cloisters. A sister outpost of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this cultural institution exhibits a vast collection of medieval works.

Views of the Hudson River as seen from Fort Tryon Park. (Photo: Tracy Kaler)

Tompkins Square Park

It’s hard to believe that this East Village park was once ridden with crime. Today, however, Tompkins Square Park is a haven for folks residing in the neighborhood as well as out-of-towners passing through. Set between Avenues A and B from East Seventh to Tenth Streets in the heart of Alphabet City, the park’s distinctly urban setting creates a perfect backdrop for annual gatherings like the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival and the Howl Festival commemorating Beat writer Allen Ginsberg. For dog lovers, the Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade presents a cavalcade of pooches donning fun and funky costumes every October.   

The Battery

Perched at the southern tip of Lower Manhattan, the Battery (formerly known as Battery Park) is the park of choice for Battery Park City residents. The waterside esplanade teems with history, dating back to the 1800s when it was a landing spot for millions of immigrants. While the sweeping views are the main attraction, many folks pass through as they catch ferries to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Highlighting the serenity of the New York Harbor and its adjoining  waterfront, the Battery is one of the most alluring outdoor spaces in New York City. 

Washington Square Park

This Greenwich Village park is well-known as it has graced the silver screen in When Harry Met Sally and a host of other films, and it’s probably one of New York’s most beloved landmarks to boot. Situated at the center of NYU’s Washington Square campus and in one of the city’s most storied neighborhoods, it attracts chess players, tattoo artists, musicians, and scores of folks interested in people watching and soaking up the quintessential Village vibe. At the entrance, a majestic arch honors George Washington, the park’s eponym, as it lords over Lower Fifth Avenue. A swoon-worthy centerpiece, the beautiful fountain is a gathering place for folks of all ages. 

Washington Square Park is located in Greenwich Village, one of the most storied neighborhoods in New York. (Photo: Pixabay)