New York City might not have too many wide open spaces, but you can still find plenty of ways to bring nature into your everyday life. Plan a picnic in one of the best NYC parks, hit up outdoor summer parties all season long and take day trips from NYC when you really need an escape. You might even be able to find some sweet oasis right here in the city if you know where to look: several stories up to the the rooftop gardens and farms. Check out some of the prettiest ones we've got here, from trendy rooftop bars to urban farms.
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Best rooftop gardens and farms in NYC
This Greenwich Village eatery gets more than half of its produce from its seasonal aeroponic rooftop tower garden, the fruits of which dictate the revolving menu. Recent menu items include house-made burrata with grilled ramps and English peas, an arugula salad topped with crisp pork belly, apple and fennel and a patty melt topped with a rooftop pickle.
Installed in 2012 and operated by Brooklyn Grange, the Navy Yard Farm covers a mammoth 65,000 square feet, making it the largest rooftop soil farm in the world. Visit the Brooklyn Grange website to register for one of the farm’s weekly Wednesday tours or find out about its LIC sister location, Flagship Farm, plus grab tickets to awesome events like botanical soap-making workshops and sunset yoga. Aspiring urban farmers can even sign up for a five-day Sustainable Farming Certificate Program at the rooftop run by the Natural Gourmet Institute. Various times and prices
Photograph: Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm / ©Anastasia Cole Plakias
Eagle Street Rooftop Farm
Hosted by production company Broadway Stages and perched atop its soundstage in Greenpoint, Eagle Street boasts a killer view of Manhattan, not to mention 6,000 square feet of leafy green goodness. Every last Sunday of the month at 1pm, folks are invited to grab some farm-fresh veggies from the on-site market and help with planting and harvesting. Free
Head to the roof of the McKittrick Hotel, the home of Sleep No More, and enjoy live music, craft cocktails and an unlimited sweet-and-savory buffet at Gallow Green’s weekend brunch. Don’t worry, there’s some actual gardening going on: In 2014, the restaurant’s aeroponic farm produced 4,000 heads of lettuce. You’ll taste the fresh herbs and vegetables in many of the dishes and cocktails. Brunch Saturdays and Sundays 11:30am–4pm; $38
Gotham Greens set up shop atop Brooklyn's Whole Foods in 2014, opening a commercial-scale, 20,000-square-foot greenhouse. The space produces 200,000 pounds of leafy greens, tomatoes and herbs each year that get sold downstairs in the adjoining market and other grocery stores around the city. Though the garden is usually closed to the public due to food safety laws, Gotham Greens offers free tours of its nearby rooftop deck every Wednesday at 6pm.
Hell’s Kitchen Farm Project
Granted, it’s a stretch to call a bunch of dirt-filled kiddie pools a farm, but considering the positive impact that this volunteer-run project is having on Hell’s Kitchen, we’ll let it slide. The veggies grown on the roof of the Metro Baptist Church are distributed through a local food pantry and CSA. Green-fingered volunteers are welcome every Thursday and Saturday, from 10am to 1pm. hkfp.org; free
Perched on top of one of the world's finest museums is one of the city’s finest vantage points—from both a sightseeing and cultural perspective. The museum recruits a new rooftop art installation every summer, like this year’s The Theater of Disappearance, an assortment of surreal sculptures by Adrián Villar Rojas. Visitors can sip cocktails while examining the art and taking in spectacular views of Central Park and the Midtown skyline.
Riverpark, the farm-to-table restaurant from Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio and Gramercy Tavern alum Sisha Ortuzar, is serious about locally sourced produce. So serious, that in 2011, it started its own temporary garden in milk crates at the stalled construction site next door. When building started up again a year later, Riverpark simply moved the portable garden to the north side of the plaza. The menu changes seasonally, and dishes like pasta with lamb, fava beans and mint highlight produce from Riverpark Farm and local greenmarkets. Opt to sit outside on the patio for picturesque views of both the East River and the thriving garden next door.
Though Farm.One isn’t on a rooftop, you would be hard-pressed to find a more ground-breaking urban farm. (See what we did there?) This hydroponic farm inside the Institute of Culinary Education cultivates more than 250 different crops, including rare herbs, edible flours and microgreens. Hourlong tasting tours of the space run every Tuesday and Thursday evening, and budding farmers can also register for classes on indoor farming, hydroponics and plant care. Prices vary