Relaxing parks

Five idyllic outdoor nooks.

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  • Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum garden in Pelham Bay Park

  • Waterfall and Midwood Trails in Prospect Park

Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum garden in Pelham Bay Park



Arthur Ross Pinetum in Central Park
More than 400 firs make up this underappreciated gem of year-round greenery, which not only smells better than most parks but is ideal for strolling and bird-watching (in winter, you might spot an owl). It's a quiet spot to escape the noise and crowds of the nearby Great Lawn. Midpark between 84th and 86th Sts, at the northwest corner of the Great Lawn (212-310-6600, centralparknyc.org)

Arthur Ross Pinetum in Central Park
More than 400 firs make up this underappreciated gem of year-round greenery, which not only smells better than most parks but is ideal for strolling and bird-watching (in winter, you might spot an owl). It's a quiet spot to escape the noise and crowds of the nearby Great Lawn. Midpark between 84th and 86th Sts, at the northwest corner of the Great Lawn (212-310-6600, centralparknyc.org)

Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum
Granted, this is an all-day excursion involving a ride to the end of the 6 train followed by a bus trip, but—sigh!—it's so worth it. The mansion itself is interesting and pretty enough (it dates from 1842 and is where Mayor La Guardia moved his office in 1936 to keep watch over Robert Moses's Orchard Beach project), but it's the backyard formal garden that makes you feel like you're spending the day at a 19th-century English country estate. Come spring, spread out a picnic by the sunken pool, then hit the trails that lead into Pelham Bay Park. 895 Shore Road at Pelham Bay Park, Bronx (718-885-1461, bartowpellmansionmuseum.org). Grounds open daily dawn--dusk, free; mansion open Wed, Sat, Sun noon--4pm; $5, seniors and students $3, children under 6 free.

Church of St. Luke in the Fields
Open daily throughout the year, this little, hidden-away, walled corner garden has a few winding paths overhung with trees and equipped with a few park benches—perfect for reading the Sunday paper on a mild day. Church of St. Luke in the Fields, 487 Hudson St at Christopher St (212-924-0562, stlukeinthefields.org)

Monsignor Mcgolrick Park
The centerpiece of this neighborhood square is a sweeping, crescent-shaped pavilion, with beautiful yellow-brick buildings on either end and a column-lined pergola. The surrounding park is similar in look and style to Washington Square Park, with curving, arbored pathways, grassy knolls and a well-used playground—only this one feels more like a romantic, 1800s garden than a college quad. Between Driggs and Nassau Aves and Monitor and Russells St, Greenpoint, Brooklyn (nycgovparks.org)

Prospect Park
Remember this one for spring, but it's still worth the walk now: Beyond the area prone to BBQers, screaming kids and drunken volleyball players (in warmer months, at least) lies a quiet, wooded trail that meanders past the park's Fallkill and Ambergill waterfalls. History buffs can opt for the Midwood Trail, which cuts through the only natural forest preserved in Olmsted and Vaux's design. Trails begin at the Audubon Center at the Boathouse, enter park at Ocean Ave and Lincoln Rd, Brooklyn (718-287-3400, prospectpark.org).

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