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

| © Aurielen Guichard/ Flickr
| © Aurielen Guichard/ Flickr
Photo of Julia Goicochea
18 June 2017

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

Park
Map View
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.

Staten Island Greenbelt

Natural Feature
Map View
Staten Island Greenbelt
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, Zoo, Park
Map View
New York Botanical Garden
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

Park
Map View
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
Map View
Pumpkins
Pumpkins | © 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
Map View
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
Map View
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
Map View
The North Woods
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
Map View
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.

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