Best parks for a walk

Lace up your sneakers and take a walk through the best New York City parks for strolling.

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Take advantage of spring's warmer temperatures and take a walk in one of New York City's best public parks. We've rounded up 10 of our favorite outdoor spaces that are perfect for an afternoon stroll.

Riverside Park

  • Critics choice
  • Free

This four-mile stretch of land along the Upper West Side is sandwiched between the Hudson River and the undulating curves of Riverside Drive and Riverside Boulevard. With more than 330 acres of green space, Riverside Park is one of the best spots in the city for hanging out: There are at least 14 monuments, plenty of sports complexes (including ball fields and a skate park) and lots of areas that are perfect for exploring.

  1. Riverside Dr, (at 103rd St)
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Brooklyn Bridge Park

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • 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. Wander among the piers and make sure to stop by Jane’s Carousel, a 1922 merry-go-round that's housed in an airy, transparent pavilion, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel.

  1. Main St, (Fulton Ferry Landing)
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Central Park

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

For your stroll head to the 38-acre wilderness area on the west side of the park known as the Ramble. The area has a storied history (as a gay cruising spot dating back to the turn of the last century, among other things), and it was even proposed as a recreational area in the mid-'50s. Thankfully, the winding trails, rocks and streams remain, seemingly waiting to be discovered.

  1. 59th St to 110th St, (from Fifth Ave to Eighth Ave)
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Fort Greene Park

  • Free

Both Brooklyn's first park and one of it's loveliest, this 30-acre parcel has a long association with creative types: It was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, and architect Stanford White created its towering Prison Ships Martyrs Monument.

  1. Washington Park, (between DeKalb and Myrtle Aves)
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Flushing Meadows–Corona Park

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

Most Manhattanites venture out to these parts only to catch a Mets game or tennis at the U.S. Open, but visitors will also be enticed by the 1964-1965 World’s Fair sculptures, particularly the iconic 140-foot-high Unisphere, a mammoth steel globe that was the fair’s symbol (and site of the apocalyptic battle scene between humans and aliens in the first Men in Black movie). Also visible are the remnants of the New York State Pavilion, erected by Philip Johnson for the fair. Measuring 350 feet by 250 feet, this now-eerie plaza is bordered by 16 100-foot steel columns.

  1. 111th St to Van Wyck Expwy, (between Flushing Bay and Grand Central Pkwy)
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The High Line

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • 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)
More info

Inwood Hill Park

  • Free

The winding paths of Manhattan's last tract of virgin forest come as close to a hiker's nirvana as one can find on the island; 196 acres of dense tree cover cancels out the rumble of civilization. Stop by the Nature Center at the entrance (Wed--Sun 10am--4pm) to snag a trail map, or ask a park ranger about the best places to trek, then get lost exploring Indian caves and potholes formed by glaciers.

  1. Indian Rd, (at 218th St)
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Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

  • Price band: 1/4

Egrets, herons and more fauna (including more than 300 species of birds that stop in during their annual migration) await on this tranquil sanctuary's four self-guided trails. Stroll along the nearly two-mile, beginner-friendly West Pond path overlooking the bay, or head on a muddy three-mile jaunt around the placid, crystalline waters of East Pond.

  1. Crossbay Blvd, (at Broad Channel)
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Prospect Park

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

Urban visionaries Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who most famously designed Central Park, also put their stamp on bucolic Prospect Park. Amenities like the Long Meadow and Nethermead offer plenty of space to pull up on a patch of grass and indulge in some people-watching, and the woodland expanse of the Ravine is a towering forest within bustling Brooklyn.

  1. Prospect Park West to Flatbush Ave, (between Prospect Park Southwest and Ocean Ave)
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Van Cortlandt Park

  • Free

While many visitors are drawn to the city's fourth-largest park for the barbecuing and ball-playing, its terrific nature trails, just waiting to be traversed, are the real draw. Van Cortlandt's five mile-long routes are full of pristine natural beauty: Varying in difficulty from easy to moderate, the trails cross more than 500 acres of marshland and lush forests of towering oaks and maples, part of its protected nature preserve. History buffs can take a leisurely one-mile stroll along the Old Croton Aqueduct trail, tracing the partial path of the city's first water tunnel, which provided New Yorkers with clean drinking water from 1842 to 1897.

  1. Broadway, (at 242nd St)
More info

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