Best places to hang out outdoors

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Brooklyn Bridge Park

  • Critics choice
  • Free

This park on the East River offers gorgeous views of the Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge, and it contains several playgrounds for youngsters.

  1. Main St, (Fulton Ferry Landing)
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The High Line

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Opened in 2009, this highly anticipated outdoor park sits on the elevated infrastructure built on Manhattan's West Side in the 1930s. Today, sumptuous gardens and outdoor sculpture adorn this magnificent walkway, which is also an excellent place to enjoy a view of the Hudson River.

  1. Washington St, (at Gansevoort St)
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Governors Island

  • Critics choice
  • Free

A seven-minute ride on a free ferry takes you to this seasonal island sanctuary, a scant 800 yards from lower Manhattan. Thanks to its strategic position in the middle of New York Harbor, Governors Island was a military outpost and off-limits to the public for 200 years. It finally opened to summer visitors in 2006. The verdant, 172-acre isle still retains a significant chunk of its military-era architecture, including Fort Jay, started in 1776, and Castle Williams, which was completed in 1812 and used as a prison. The 22-acre area containing the forts and historical officers’ residences is now a national landmark. Today, the island is jointly run by the city, the state and the National Park Service, and it provides a peaceful setting for cycling (bring a bike on the ferry, or rent from Bike and Roll once there). The island hosts a program of events, such as concert series and art exhibitions (see website for schedule), wnd where else can you have a picnic directly across from the Statue of Liberty?

  1. Governors Island
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Central Park, Sheep Meadow

  • Free

Central Park’s bucolic Sheep Meadow is a 15-acre field located along the southwestern edge of the park. Its designation as the park’s first Quiet Zone—organized sports and alcohol aren’t allowed, pets are technically prohibited, and audible music is verboten—has helped lure the crowds, making the Meadow one of the park’s most popular spots for relaxing.

  1. Enter at Central Park West and 66th St
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Prospect Park

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Prospect Park occasionally hosts foodie tours and events.

  1. Prospect Park West to Flatbush Ave, (between Prospect Park Southwest and Ocean Ave)
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Washington Square Park

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  • Free

The hippies who famously turned up and tuned out in Washington Square Park are still there in spirit, and indeed often in person. In warmer months the park—which was once a potter’s field—is one of the best people-watching spots in the city, hummings with musicians and street artists, while skateboarders clatter near the base of the iconic 1895 Washington Arch (a modest replica of Paris’s Arc de Triomphe).

  1. W 4th St to Waverly Pl, (between MacDougal St and University Pl)
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Brooklyn Heights and Brooklyn Promenade

  • Free

The streets of Brooklyn Heights—particularly Cranberry, Hicks, Pierrepont and Willow—are lined with well-preserved Greek Revival and Italianate row houses dating from the 1820s, a legacy of the area being designated Brooklyn’s first historic district in 1965. Today, both Henry and Montague Streets are crammed with shops, restaurants and bars. At the end of Montague, the Brooklyn Heights Promenade offers spectacular waterfront vistas of Manhattan, especially on the Fourth of July when the Macy’s firework display lights up the harbor sky.

  1. Columbia Heights, (between Montague St and Middagh St)
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