20-minute staycations

Get some peace of mind on your lunch break at one of these underrated pocket parks.

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The respite: Though obscured by surrounding high-rises, Tudor City Greens (42nd St between First and Second Aves, tudorcitygreens.org) manages to draw nearly 500 lunching office drones on weekdays—50 percent of which are United Nations employees. Despite the heavy foot traffic, the park remains a quiet escape from the midtown madness, with benches and movable chairs lining the gravel pathway. We hope you like nature: Expect squirrels and pigeons to beckon for scraps at your feet.
The grub: Savor the wildly popular banh mi ($7.50), stuffed with ham, BBQ pork, pt, cucumbers and other traditional fillings, from Vietnamese sandwich shop Boi to Go (800 Second Ave between 42nd and 43rd Sts, 212-681-1122).

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The respite: The 25-foot-high cascading waterfall at GreenAcre Park (51st St between Second and Third Aves; 212-649-5691, pps.org) provides a soothing soundtrack that will make even the busiest New Yorker forget about looming deadlines and office politics. Pull up a movable chair and do som only-in--New York people-watching: A man once attempted to wash his pet duck in the fountain here, until Greenacre officials put the kibosh on bath time.
The grub: For fast service and a full belly, hit white-tableclothed restaurant Tadka Indian Cuisine (229 53rd St between Second and Third Aves; 212-355-9660, tadkanyc.com) and get a to-go order of chicken tikka masala ($9.95), smothered in a creamy tomato sauce and served with rice and nan for sopping it all up.

The respite: Who would have imagined a roaring cataract so close to Times Square? At Royal Mini Park (enter on 48th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves), you can drown your day’s stress (and the surrounding street noise) as you walk through a cascading waterfall tunnel. Once through, you’ll find a shady concrete oasis with lots of tables for sitting, eating and procrastinating from work.
The grub: Slide through the all-you-can-eat buffet at Sukhadia’s (17 W 45th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 212-395-7300, sukhadia.com; $5.95/lb) for a vegetarian Indian menu that changes daily. Or just grab a vegetable biryani platter ($9) and head outside. Wash it down with a mango lassi ($4), a sweet and tart blended yogurt drink.

The respite: Gaze across the East River from your perch on the Elevated Acre (55 Water St between Broad St and Old Slip; elevatedacre.com; daily 7am--10pm), a petite park located 40 feet above street level and hidden behind two Financial District office towers. Once you get enough of the panoramic views of both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, spread out on the Astroturf lawn for a postprandial nap.
The grub: Newly opened French-Scandinavian eatery Crepes du Nord (17 South William St between Broad St and Mill Ln; 212-422-9500, crepesdunord.com) will appease all of your taste buds. For savory flavor, try the namesake dish, an organic buckwheat crpe filled with smoked salmon, eggs and dill cream ($10). To satisfy your sweet tooth, opt for the Lingering Lingonberry, stuffed with ricotta cheese ($6).

The respite: Bowling Green (Broadway at Whitehall St; nycgovparks.org) is New York City’s oldest park—and the triangle it lives on at the southern tip of Manhattan is also home to Wall Street’s iconic Charging Bull statue, which tourists have a tendency to grab by its bronze balls. If you don’t find that entertaining, kick up your feet on a bench near the oval fountain and consider this: When the park was established in 1733, the city rented it for the annual fee of one peppercorn (the spice was used as currency).
The grub: At family-run sandwich and soup shop Caf Doppio (55 Broad St at Beaver St, 212-785-7595), you can sample any of the rotating soups on offer at no extra cost, though we guarantee you’ll go for a cup of the superior Italian wedding soup ($4.95). Pair it with the popular vegetarian sandwich ($6.50), made with avocado, English cheddar, alfalfa sprouts and tomato on seven-grain bread, for a filling repast.

The respite: A flourishing 2,500-square-foot garden near the foot of the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn, Bridge Plaza Community Garden (201 Bridge St at Concord St, Downtown Brooklyn; 212-333-2552, nyrp.org; Mon, Wed 8am--3pm; Sat 8am--7pm) lures government staffers who work in offices nearby, and it’s no wonder: Vibrant pink rosebushes burst through the garden’s gates, and an inviting stone pathway leads to a shaded bench under a tree. Despite its close proximity to bustling Flatbush Avenue, the landscaping will make you feel as though you’ve escaped to a garden in Connecticut.
The grub: Lucky for you, Forest Loading Dock (170 Tillary St at Flatbush Ave, Dowtown Brooklyn; 646-355-7518, loadingdocknyc.com) is not far from your destination. You may recognize the tacos sold at this truck from the Brooklyn Flea, but you can chow down on them right here in Downtown, too. The fillings range from beans and cheese to skirt steak ($2--$5). If you need something heartier, grab yourself a burrito stuffed with beer-battered mahi-mahi ($10) and a pork chipotle tamale ($5).

The respite: Formally a landfill, Socrates Sculpture Park (32-01 Vernon Blvd at Broadway Long Island City, Queens; 718-956-1819, socratessculpturepark.org) is a waterfront haven for large-scale sculptures and artsy outdoor summer events. Set up camp near the current exhibit “Cityscape: Surveying the Urban Biotope” and ponder the presence of nature in urban life as you gaze across the river at the Manhattan skyline.
The grub: For cheap Middle Eastern street-vendor eats, pick something up at the food-cart royalty of Queens, King of Falafel & Shawarma (30th St at Broadway, Astoria, Queens; 718-838-8029, thekingfalafel.com). Try the top-selling chicken-and-rice platter ($6) or a falafel pita sandwich ($3).

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