11 Epic Places in New York City Every Local is Proud of

| © Aurielen Guichard/ Flickr
| © Aurielen Guichard/ Flickr | © Aurielen Guichard/ Flickr
Julia Goicochea

No disrespect to that famous city skyline, but there are times New Yorkers would prefer a little less concrete and a little more jungle in our daily lives. But we do have the opportunity to swap city lights for shining stars and public fountains for waterfalls, at these 11 places. From a bird-watcher’s haven to a waterfront view of Lady Liberty, here are 11 epic places not even New Yorkers can be cynical about.

Governor’s Island

A year-round home to roughly 2,500 New Yorkers, Governor’s Island only truly comes to life during the summer, when its ample green spaces, 7-mile biking trail, and outdoor art installations are open to the public. Hosting just about every big-name festival to grace New York City, the island also offers zip lining, hammocks, trendy food spots, and everything else you’ll need to have your most epic summer yet.

Governor’s Island, New York, NY, USA

Governor’s Island, Courtesy of the Trust for Governors Island

The High Line


The High Line
© joevare / Flickr
From tot-toting parents to young couples, camera-wielding tourists to New York-natives, everyone can find something to love about the High Line. Gardens meet the gritty city at this elevated park, which features abundant foliage, visual art, outdoor furniture, and breathtaking city views. Highlights for nature-loving locals include the park’s Chelsea Thicket, Gansevoort Woodland, and Washington Grasslands sections.

Pelham Bay Park


Measuring more than 2,770 acres, the Bronx’s Pelham Bay Park stands out as New York City’s biggest park. It has the family-friendly Orchard Beach, a 13-mile shoreline, and varied wildlife — including sea turtles and ospreys. It’s no wonder this super-sized city park is a favorite of New York’s nature lovers.

Staten Island Greenbelt

Natural Feature

Staten Island Greenbelt
Courtesy of Greenbelt Conservancy
The often-ignored fifth borough, Staten Island, gets its turn in the spotlight during New York’s warmer months, when in-the-know nature lovers flock to the city’s second largest collection of public parks. Comprising 2,800 acres, six trails, and countless wildlife species — including reptiles, deer, and fish — the Staten Island Greenbelt promises outdoor adventure to New York City slickers.

New York Botanical Garden’s Seasonal Walk

Botanical Garden, Museum, Park, Zoo

New York Botanical Garden
Erik Anestad/Flickr
Even in the throes of icy winter and rainy spring, New York City is beautiful. Nowhere is this more apparent than at the New York Botanical Garden’s Seasonal Walk. Perennial flowers, grasses, and bulbs are on display, with the aim of presenting New York nature ‘in every stage of growth throughout the year’.

The North Woods


Welcoming over 25 million visitors each year, Central Park is one of New York’s most bustling attractions. The park is also home to one of the most serene spots in the city. The North Woods are an area in Central Park where nature is left undisturbed: wildlife congregates, fallen trees decompose, and plants blossom freely in this secluded corner. Highlights of the Woods include the Loch, a picturesque and gently-flowing stream, and the artificial waterfall, the Ravine.

Louis Valentino, Jr. Park and Pier

Building, Park

© Caitlin Regan/Flickr
At just 4.5 acres, the park itself is not the draw of Louis Valentino, Jr. Park and Pier. This unassuming spot, a well-kept secret among Red Hook residents, provides one of the city’s most stunning views of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty, less than two miles away. Snagging gorgeous New York City shots at a spot unknown to most locals? Sounds pretty epic to us.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Fragrance Garden

Botanical Garden, Museum, Park, Forest

Overflowing with plants, herbs, and flowers in bloom, Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Fragrance Garden is a stunning sight. However, looks aren’t everything here: it was the first garden in North America to be designed specially for sight-impaired nature-lovers. Here, the specimens — positioned within easy reach of wheelchair users — are identified via braille labels. A tour through the garden is met with many scents — basil, peppermint, patchouli, and lavender, all grown in the same space. This experience is as immersive as it is unforgettable.

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

Park, Hiking Trail

Giving new meaning to the phrase ‘concrete jungle’, the buzzing borough of Queens happens to be home to one of the city’s largest wildlife populations. Animal-lovers (along with more than 330 species of birds!) flock to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge to enjoy the area’s water ponds, marshlands, and thriving eco-life. For its two-legged visitors, the park offers boat trips, hiking trails, and sunset tours.

The Ravine

Forest, Park

The North Woods
Eric Gross/Flickr
Located in family-friendly Park Slope, the 585-acre Prospect Park is popular for its serene natural spaces. At the heart of this Brooklyn-based oasis is the Ravine, a secluded rocky section boasting hidden waterfalls, animal habitats, and a centuries-old forest, the only one in the borough. Modeled after the Adirondack Mountains, this local wonder offers a much-appreciated escape from the stress of city life.
The North Woods l Eric Gross/Flickr

Carl Schurz Park

Bridge, Park

Situated along Manhattan’s East River, this out-of-the-way spot is an ideal destination for walkers of both the two-legged and four-legged varieties. From its waterfront promenade to its two dog runs, Carl Schurz Park provides unbeatable views of the Triborough Bridge, Governor’s Island, and plenty of carefree canines.
culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.


Holiday Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article