RECOMMENDED: 50 best New York attractions
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 five years since it debuted. The project has transformed a chunk of the Brooklyn waterfront into an 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. Check out Pier 2, a three-acre site designed specifically for "active recreation" (sporting leagues, picnics and roller skating) with a 6,300-square-foot lawn and a water play area, and the new Squibb Bridge just opened. Also don't miss out the new Public Art Fund display Reverberation, made of large bells by San Francisco-based sculptor Davina Semo.