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The Most Underrated Parks in NYC


Renowned green spaces like Central Park and Prospect Park naturally demand international attention. But, tucked in between skyscrapers, neighborhoods, and alongside the rivers, the city boasts an array of hidden gem parks that are often overlooked. For those seeking tranquility or perhaps a new spot to sip their morning coffee, here’s a guide to some of the most underrated parks in NYC.

Fort Tryon Park, Manhattan

Where: Hudson Heights, Manhattan

What to Expect

This park is home to The Cloisters, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s branch dedicated to medieval Europe. With its elevated terraces, you can enjoy sweeping views of the Hudson River. This verdant sanctuary boasts meticulously landscaped heather gardens and meandering pathways, reminiscent of old-world charm. Perhaps its most distinguished feature, the aforementioned Cloisters, allows visitors to journey back in time, with famous works including the Hunt of the Unicorn. The George Washington Bridge adds a majestic touch to the horizon. Whether you’re an art lover, a history enthusiast, or someone seeking serene landscapes and dramatic river vistas, Fort Tryon Park promises an unforgettable escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Gantry Plaza State Park, Queens

Where: Long Island City, Queens

What to Expect

Gantry Plaza State Park is Long Island City’s waterfront marvel, a refreshing juxtaposition of urban sophistication and leisurely green spaces. Flanked by the iconic Pepsi-Cola sign – a nostalgic nod to the area’s industrial past – this park is a visual spectacle. Here, old railroad gantries stand tall, repurposed as aesthetic landmarks amidst modern park amenities. Its meticulously designed boardwalks and seating areas, lined with ornamental grasses and trees, provide an unparalleled view of Manhattan’s skyline, especially during golden hour. By night, the twinkling lights of the city dance upon the East River, creating a mesmerizing experience. Contemporary design elements, coupled with ample seating and lush greenery, make this a top spot for sunset viewing.

Bushwick Inlet Park, Brooklyn

Where: Williamsburg, Brooklyn

What to Expect

Nestled in the heart of Williamsburg is Bushwick Inlet Park, an emblem of urban regeneration and transformation. Once an industrial wasteland, this space now flourishes as a modern-day oasis with a focus on sustainability and community engagement. Lush grass fields, ideal for a range of recreational activities, merge seamlessly with the park’s esplanade, offering panoramic views of the East River and the Manhattan skyline beyond. Its green building, a beacon of sustainable architecture, hosts an array of community-centric events and workshops. With its captivating blend of natural beauty and modern design, Bushwick Inlet Park is not only a testament to New York City’s adaptability but also a haven for residents and visitors seeking solace amid urban chaos.

Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens

Where: Astoria, Queens

What to Expect

Nestled in the vibrant neighborhood of Astoria, the Socrates Sculpture Park is where art and the natural world unite in an urban setting. Once an abandoned landfill, this 5-acre site has been transformed into an open-air museum, showcasing eclectic and ever-evolving sculptures curated from artists worldwide. As visitors wander its grounds, they’re invited to engage with these large-scale installations, which often challenge perceptions and inspire contemplation. Beyond its artistic allure, the park’s riverside location offers breezy views of the East River and Manhattan’s skyline, creating a picturesque backdrop for the art pieces. Hosting a plethora of seasonal events, workshops, and community gatherings, Socrates Sculpture Park stands as a cultural beacon, affirming the power of creativity in revitalizing spaces.

Randall’s Island Park, Manhattan

Where: Between East Harlem, the South Bronx, and Astoria, Queens

What to Expect

Randall’s Island Park is a sprawling urban sanctuary that seamlessly marries recreation with natural beauty. Covering over 480 acres, it provides a breath of fresh air in the midst of NYC’s hustle. With over 60 sports fields, it’s a hub for athletic enthusiasts, from soccer to baseball. The park’s gardens bloom vibrantly, showcasing a myriad of flora, while its waterfront pathways offer serene walks with mesmerizing views of the city’s skyline. The urban farm, a nod to sustainable living, educates visitors about agriculture. From outdoor concerts to art installations, Randall’s Island is not just a park—it’s an experience, embodying New York’s dynamic spirit while offering respite and recreation.

Prospect Park’s Ravine, Brooklyn

Where: Prospect Park, Brooklyn

What to Expect

Tucked within the expanse of Prospect Park lies its best-kept secret: the Ravine. As Brooklyn’s only forest, this tranquil enclave offers a genuine immersion into nature’s embrace. Meandering streams and cascading waterfalls punctuate dense canopies of trees, with wooden arch bridges elegantly spanning the waterways. Sunlight filtering through the leaves paints a dappled landscape, inviting visitors to momentarily forget they’re in the heart of an urban jungle. Birds serenade the air with melodious calls, making it a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike. The Ravine isn’t just a park section; it’s an escape, a testament to the meticulous design of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, inviting city dwellers to a refreshing pause from their bustling surroundings.

Wave Hill, Bronx

Where: Riverdale, Bronx

What to Expect

Wave Hill is more than just a park; it’s a lush, living canvas that paints a story of history, art, and nature in the heart of the Bronx. Overlooking the majestic Hudson River and the rugged cliffs of the Palisades, this 28-acre public garden and cultural center is a testament to nature’s enduring beauty. From its meticulously manicured gardens that change with the seasons, to the serene greenhouses brimming with tropical flora, every corner invites exploration. The estate’s rich history resonates in its elegant buildings, often hosting art exhibitions and workshops. Whether you’re seeking horticultural inspiration, a lesson in landscape art, or simply a tranquil spot to rejuvenate, Wave Hill offers an enchanting escape from the urban frenzy.

BPC Ball Fields, Manhattan

Where: Battery Park City, Manhattan

What to Expect

The BPC Ball Fields in Battery Park City stand as a symbol of urban versatility, offering a refreshing blend of athleticism and scenic beauty. Perfectly manicured baseball and soccer fields cater to sports enthusiasts of all ages, serving as a hub for local leagues and friendly matches. But beyond its athletic appeal, the fields are set against a breathtaking backdrop: the majestic Hudson River on one side and the towering silhouette of the Freedom Tower on the other. As day turns to evening, the fields come alive with the golden hues of sunset, making it a picturesque spot not just for players but for spectators seeking a moment of tranquility. This urban recreational gem encapsulates the dynamic spirit of New York City, merging play with unparalleled views.

Madison Square Park, Manhattan

Where: Flatiron District, Manhattan

What to Expect

At first glance, including Madison Square Park on a list of underrated gems might seem odd given its prime location. Yet, beyond its notoriety as the birthplace of the original Shake Shack, lies a park rich in history and brimming with understated charm. Dating back to 1686, its mature trees have witnessed centuries of change, offering shade to countless generations. Seasonal art installations enliven its lawns, inviting contemplation and conversation. The park’s reflective pool and ornate fountains add to its tranquility. Amid the hustle of the surrounding cityscape, Madison Square Park stands as an oasis, reminding visitors of New York’s enduring ability to harmoniously balance the old with the new, and nature with urban life.

Clove Lakes Park, Staten Island

Where: West Brighton, Staten Island

What to Expect

Often overshadowed by its counterparts in the other boroughs, Clove Lakes Park in Staten Island is an undiscovered gem awaiting appreciation. Sprawling across 191 acres, this park is a rich tapestry of serene lakes, cascading waterfalls, and dense woodlands. Its boathouse, reminiscent of a bygone era, stands elegantly by the water, offering boat rentals for those seeking a leisurely paddle. A myriad of trails beckons joggers, walkers, and bird watchers, each promising unique encounters with the park’s rich biodiversity. From historic stone bridges to a majestic 300-year-old tulip tree, Clove Lakes Park is more than just green space; it’s a living testament to Staten Island’s natural beauty and its commitment to conservation.


Amid the concrete jungle of NYC, these underrated parks provide locals and tourists alike with pockets of greenery, serenity, and a dose of unexpected beauty. Whether you’re an art aficionado, a sports enthusiast, or someone simply seeking a peaceful corner to read a book, there’s an overlooked park in New York City just waiting to be discovered.