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OOO New York

Not Just a Concrete Jungle: 6 Places to Connect With Nature in NYC

  • 4-min read

Stretch your legs, twerk amongst the trees, and remember why you were crazy enough to move here.

Connect with nature in NYC at Prospect Park Brooklyn, Historic Lullwater Bridge on a summer day.
littleny / Getty Images

Not to sound “so California,” but sometimes we need to reconnect with nature, man. And it’s totally possible to find it in the concrete jungle of New York.

6 places to connect with nature in New York City

1. Central Park

Honey, does Central Park even need an explanation at this point? After all, it is one of the most popular parks in New York City. Even if you’ve been to Central Park a thousand times, you still haven’t seen the whole thing. Central Park is filled with hidden gems to give you all your peace and serenity needs.

Cop Cot

Cop Cot is a Central Park wedding fantasy, but a boo thang isn’t required for entry. I suggest going any day during the week and avoiding weekends. It’s a pretty popular place for weddings, but you can enjoy the cooling shade covered by beautiful vines, flowers, and greenery any time. Sit back and get lost in the sounds of the birds and city life taking place.

Hallett Nature Sanctuary

If you’re looking to get lost in nature, head to Hallet Nature Sanctuary. This area of Central Park is a four-acre nature preserve filled with lakes, a waterfall, and various animals, including birds, rabbits, snapping turtles, and more. Take a long walk down the park’s nature trail with small peaks or city views.

2. New York Botanical Gardens

The Botanical Gardens in New York City is one of my favorite nature getaways. It’s the perfect excuse to escape the chaos of Manhattan and make your way uptown to the Bronx. The park is free on Wednesday, and you’ll want to spend all day experiencing its pure nature. Get lost in the rose garden, sunflower garden, Mertz Library, Edible Academy, and much more.

I would highly suggest bringing a journal, book, and water. Spend the entire day indulging in a good book while in the beautiful landscape the gardens have to offer. 

3. The High Line Park

If you’re a true New Yorker and being alone in the woods unleashes your anxiety, try this instead. As an anxious person, I stand with you. The Highline is a perfect balance of a good nature walk without sacrificing being away from the city’s essence. The High Line is an ideal trail right in the heart of Chelsea and Hudson Yards. Take an exciting walk as you come across artists, musicians, and great New York City skyscrapers. The Highline is entirely free.

Have a refreshing drink from one of the many food stands, take advantage of the photo ops, and appreciate the beauty of New York City. 

4. Paley Park

Paley Park is a small pocket of greenery in the big city. The park is owned by CBS and was created as an oasis for employees and Museum of Modern Art patrons. However, it is entirely open to the public. The layout is simple, with a few tables surrounded by plants and trees with a luxurious waterfall as the main attraction. Listening to the soothing sounds from the waterfall is perfect for taking a brief break before or after a meeting, lunch break with coworkers, or a midday pick-me-up. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your moment of zen.

5. Prospect Park

Central Park is cute, but Prospect Park is where it’s at! The girls that get it get it. My favorite time is during the summer months when the park lights up with extraordinary musical and cultural events, barbecues, and summer movie nights under the stars. It’s the best place to go with friends or alone while being in the comfort of lively energy.

Like Central Park, Prospect Park is massive and has no shortage of activities to explore. The park contains a zoo, boat house, concert grove with beautiful trees, horseback riding trails, hiking trails, and so much more.

6. Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm

Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm is not your traditional New York City rooftop bar. The farm is a modern-day take on agriculture in the big city. There are three locations: Sunset Park, Brooklyn Navy Yard, and Long Island City. All locations are filled with freshly grown vegetables for the community at large. Visitors are welcome to get a tour of the incredible rooftop farm. 

The sites are the perfect escape with a mix of landscape and city views. There are no animals on this farm for obvious reasons (pigs don’t ride elevators 💅). However, this shouldn’t hold you back from a city girl’s version of a day in the countryside. The Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm also hosts events and sunset yoga if you’re looking for a unique experience in the city. 

City girls need a break, too

We all can agree that being a city girl is a full-time job. Thank goodness we can all get a little break from the city without taking a six-hour drive to upstate New York. Stretch your legs, twerk amongst the trees, and remember why you were crazy enough to move here.