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Michaella Sheridan | 02.04.2018

New York City is a jungle all its own, with a towering canopy of skyscrapers and the ceaseless chatter of its inhabitants filling the air. Trying to escape the Big Apple for a rejuvenating nature fix can seem like a challenge, but fresh air, peaceful strolls and adventures of every type are within reach without leaving city limits. And while we love everything about Central Park, we've kept this list to different parks and adventures within The City to add some variety to your outdoor explorations.

Here's a list of 10 outdoor escapes that are easily accessible using public transportation within the NYC Metro Area:

1. The High Line

Need a dose of nature when you're marooned in the city? Get above all the hustle and bustle on the High Line, a long-retired elevated rail line that's been transformed into a verdant park and picnic area. 

2. Bryant Park

Set smack in the middle of Midtown Manhattan, Bryant Park is a refreshing island of green and a banner of revitalization in Midtown. If you're in need of some greenery time on a tight schedule, this is a great stop for a breather before heading to your next meeting.

3. City Hall Park

The park, although small, features a fair amount of greenspace and gardens. It makes a pleasant stop for relaxing and soaking in some history, if desired, in downtown Manhattan. Pedestrian and bicycle access to the Brooklyn Bridge on the promenade is right across the street on the park's east side.

4. Brooklyn Bridge National Historic Landmark

After soaking in City Hall Park, make a trek onto the Brooklyn Bridge. While not the first thing to come to mind as an outdoor adventure, this is a must-see for both visitors and locals in New York City and is an outdoor escape in its own right. You can also enjoy epic views of the surrounding city from this stone perch while stretching your legs on the promenade.

5. Prospect Park

From rolling fields to cobbled walkways and miles of bike-friendly roadway, there are myriad ways to enjoy this park in the heart of Brooklyn. It sure is a welcome respite from the noise and pace of city living, and if you know where to go you can discover a hidden forest in the Ravine.

6. Brooklyn Botanic Garden

If you make it over to Prospect Park, take some time to check out the Brooklyn Botanic Garden while you're here, too! The well-maintained gardens found here are sure to delight any visitor. In the span of an afternoon you can see desert cacti, carnivorous plants, delicate orchids, sprawling wisteria, endless rose gardens, and much more.

7. Coney Island Beach + Boardwalk

This classic NYC destination can offer a peaceful seaside walk in the off-season. Accessible via public transit, take a lazy weekend ride to the beach and walk along the shore...don't forget to stop at Nathan's for lunch! 

8. South Mountain Recreation Complex

Featuring a 2-mile ADA-accessible paved loop around the Orange Reservoir, this is a great escape for families. Leashed dogs are allowed on the trail, so your dog can get some fresh air, too. The Complex is only about an hour from the city via public transit or car, and it offers several options for free parking.

9. Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park

Escape the modern city by taking a step back in time at this awe-inspiring historic park. Learn a bit about the president that inspired Broadway's hit musical, "Hamilton," as you explore the power station he created at the top of Great Falls at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. 

10. East River State Park

Once a shipping dock and now a neighborhood park, East River State Park is a surprising find in north Brooklyn. This is not your typical state park with lots of greenery, trails, and quiet spaces. Instead, this park is quietly recovering from its industrial past. Small trees, flower gardens, and picnic tables flank East River State Park and you'll even find a small stretch of waterfront with some sandy beach to enjoy.


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