The best places to relax in NYC

Unclench your teeth, unhunch your shoulders and follow our guide to lowering your stress level

Photograph: Mick Hales
The best places to relax: New York Botanical Garden

Looking for somewhere to unwind and escape from the busy streets of New York? Whether you are looking for a secluded, quiet spot or simply the best places to relax and chill out, there are lots of options within the five boroughs. Or, pack a bag for a relaxing weekend getaway outside the city.

Where to relax in NYC

Things to Do

Chill out

Find some inner peace and tranquility at these spots around the city. From parks and gardens to museums, these places are sure to help you chill the eff out

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Things to Do

Secluded spots

There’s no need to leave the five boroughs to get away from it all. New York’s parks and gardens offer cheap, easy trips to hidden spots of natural beauty

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Things to Do

Find quiet

If you're searching for a spot where you can shut out the noise of garbage trucks, screaming children (or adults) and the subway's screech—so, you know, the usual NYC din—head to one of our favorite quiet spots in the city

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More places to find peace in NYC

Shopping and style

Best spas

We've found the best spas and salons in New York to get primped and pampered at every price point, in every neighborhood. Whether you’re looking for cheap massages and free blowouts, or the best barbershops and nail-art salons, we've scoured the city to find the best spas and salons in New York. We've tested everything from hangover relieving treatments to spray tan salons to find the best beauty offerings in the city. Features Best spas 2012 Best spas 2011 Hourlong massage $49 | Buy Now Waldorf Astoria Champagne Spa Day $199 | Buy Now Chic midtown spa: $100 in spa services $59 | Buy Now Downtown day spa packages $69 | Buy Now

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Museums

Parks

Take advantage of spring's warmer temperatures at ten of New York City's best public parks. New York City is full of public parks—in fact, nearly 14 percent of the city is covered in green spaces. But some of these verdant spots stand out above the rest. Here, we've rounded up ten of our favorite New York City parks—pack a picnic basket and hunker down for an afternoon, or simply lace up your sneakers and take a walk. Brooklyn Bridge Park Some city parks—Central and Prospect, most obviously—were built to replicate rustic fields and preserve serene woodland. Brooklyn Bridge Park, however, was not—and that’s precisely why it has become so popular in the almost three years since it debuted. The project has transformed a chunk of the Brooklyn waterfront into a nearly 85-acre expanse; several sections house unique attractions such as Jane’s Carousel, a restored 1920s merry-go-round, and riverside esplanades with gorgeous Manhattan views. Pier 5, the first part of the park designed specifically for “active recreation,” opened in late 2012, cementing the space as the city’s premier urban playground. Central Park 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 discove

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Museums

Museums

A New York museum trip shouldn't be saved for a rainy day: With specialties ranging from modern art to mathematics, sex to outer space, there a New York museum for every aesthetic and intellectual curiosity. Click on a listing for museum information and complete details on current exhibitions. Most popular in Museums Dumbo Arts Festival The already art-forward northern Brooklyn ’hood pulls out all the stops during this three-day fest, featuring works by 300-plus contemporary artists. Ahead of the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, Lillian Gerson’s pop-up recording studio, Radio Wave, gives attendees the chance to dictate their storm stories; in The Ship of Tolerance, Russian artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov will pilot a ship along the waterfront whose sail is made of stitched-together paintings by NYC schoolkids; the Bubbles of Hope performance-art processional will see 20 dynamic sculptures swooping down on Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1 for an interactive parade; and festgoers can bring their own possessions, skills, stories or even abstracter holdings to trade in Bartertown. Visit dumboartsfestival.com for a full schedule. Museum Day Live! Download a voucher from smithsonian.com/museumday to receive two free tickets to one of 27 New York City museums and cultural centers. Participating big-name institutions include the Jewish Museum, which premiered "Chagall: Love, War and Exile" on Sept 15 and the Museum of Arts and Design, which debuted "Body & Soul: Contemporar

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Travel

Escapes (get out of the city)

Escape the city at the drop of a sun hat with these weekend getaways, including easy day trips to classic summer destinations like the Hamptons and Fire Island. Don’t spend your precious days off waiting around in airport lounges; easy day trips and overnights are just a car, train or bus ride away. Whether you’re looking for adventurous outdoor activities, sunbathing, beaches off the beaten track, culinary destinations (lobster-shack road trip!) or culture, we’ve found plenty of weekend getaways to satisfy your wanderlust. RECOMMENDED: Summer in New York guide Get away to Ireland The stunning oceanside cliffs and verdant valleys of Ireland are legendary, and reason alone to make a visit. But sharing the spotlight these days are the cities, where thriving music, arts and culinary scenes are drawing participants and visitors from all over the globe. Numerous music and arts festivals are held throughout the year in Dublin, Galway and Belfast, and County Cork has become the country's culinary hub. Derry-Londonderry is 2013's City of Culture, with a year-long calendar of events proving the designation—including the prestigious Turner Prize, being held for the first time outside of Britain. And the entire country is hosting The Gathering 2013, with thousands of events celebrating Irish culture being held in all counties, making this an especially good year to make a pilgrimage. It will give a whole new meaning to going green. Travelzoo getaways Travelzoo getaways 37% OFF |

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Bars

Quiet bars

Get away from the holiday hustle and bustle and post up at one of these quiet bars, which offer a relaxed vibe and great drinks. After a few weeks of holiday parties, you may need a quiet bar where you can relax with a friend­ (or a book—hey, it’s one of the greatest pleasures of living here) and get away from the maddening crowds. Head to one of these five quiet bars, where you’ll find plenty of warming drinks, room to relax and—most importantly—a chilled-out vibe.RECOMMENDED: Best Winter cocktails and cozy bars in NYC More winter cocktails and cozy bars in NYC Winter cocktails at New York bars Warm up at New York bars with one of our favorite seasonal sippers—winter cocktails featuring flavors like pumpkin and allspice. Bars with fireplaces are a great way to warm up this time of year, but new seasonal cocktails provide just as much reason to escape your apartment. Here are the ten best winter cocktails at New York bars, to aid in your winter-drinking pursuits.RECOMMENDED: Best Winter cocktails and cozy bars in NYC More winter cocktails and cozy bars in NYC You might also like Winter activities and things to do in New York Mark your planner with these essential winter activities, including blockbuster shows, anniversary celebrations, sophisticated balls, tasting events and more. Resist the urge to hibernate for the next three months—we’ll help you fill your calendar with an array of winter activities the season’s best cultural activities, museum exhibits, food festivals, co

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Things to Do

Spiritual events

Recharge your spiritual batteries with our Zen guide, featuring our pick of enlightening events in NYC. We love the socks off our crazy city, but sometimes New York gets a little—well, crazy. For those seeking serenity in Gotham, we’ve gathered together the best spiritual events in NYC. Watch celebrities grapple with the big philosophical questions in conversation at the Rubin Museum or massage your mind at a Zen center. If you’re trying to kick-start a meditation practice, the city’s top teachers are only a click away. Get busy, people! Just do it calmly. Most popular in Things to Do "Bodies in Balance: The Art of Tibetan Medicine" Take a quiz to find out whether your body is guided predominantly by wind, bile or phlegm, the three forces of Tibetan medicine, then follow a customized path through this collection of paintings, medical instruments and texts. The items run from the 9th century to today, with a multimedia overview of present-day applications. The Butterfly Conservatory Get warmed up, and uplifted! Temperatures climb to a balmy 80 degrees in the 1,200-square-foot vivarium at the American Museum of Natural History, returning for its 16th year. The 500 specimens flying around include monarchs, zebra longwings and iridescent blue morpho butterflies. Inside the Cathedral of St. John the Divine Walking Tour Join Bernie Cohen (of Bernie's New York Walking Tours) on a tour of the historic church, including its Rose Window, historical parapet and Chapels of the Tong

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Things to Do

Best bars with games

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