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It may be a concrete jungle, but New York City has plenty of green space to offer nature-seeking urbanites. And while we all love a classic picnic in Central Park or Prospect Park, why not try a new excursion this summer? These spots are tops for those interested in anything from art and history to sunsets and waterfalls.
For nature lovers: Inwood Hill Park
New Yorkers searching for changes in scenery need look no further than this Upper Manhattan park, which boasts valleys, caves and ridges within its boundaries. In addition to the dog runs, barbecue areas, playgrounds and athletic fields, visitors who want to get closer to nature can hang out beside the Dyckman Marina, one of the city's natural bodies of water, or go for a hike or bike ride along largely untouched trails.
Dyckman Street and Hudson River, Manhattan (Credit: Flickr/Steve Guttman)
To see a waterfall: Bronx Park
This park is home to the Bronx Zoo and New York Botanical Garden, but it also has plenty of native plant and animal life of its own. Best of all, visitors can take a stroll along the Bronx River and past a serene waterfall, right here in the city. You can schedule a canoe trip with the Bronx River Alliance.
Between Southern Boulevard, Webster Avenue, Burke Avenue, Bronx Park East and 190th Street, Bronx (Credit: nycparks.org)
To watch the sunset: Astoria Park
Astoria Park offers the city's largest pool, top notch tennis courts, a track, hiking trails and playgrounds, but for the ultimate NYC experience, take a seat on one of the benches along the East River before dusk and watch the sunset light up the sky against the Triborough and Hell Gate bridges.
19 Street between Astoria Park South and Ditmars Boulevard, Astoria, Queens (Credit: Flickr/momentcaptured1)
For amazing views: Sunset Park
Sunset Park is home to one of the best views of the Manhattan skyline, whether you're there at sunset or any other time of day. From high ground you can also get an eye-full of the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn, Staten Island and New Jersey. In addition to its remarkable vistas, recreational activities (swimming, basketball, handball and more) and facilities for kids, the cultural neighborhoods surrounding the park make it a prime spot to enjoy authentic Chinese or Mexican eats.
41 Street between 5th and 7th Avenues, Sunset Park, Brooklyn (Credit: Flickr/Victoria Belanger)
To see art: Fort Tyron Park
Art lovers can get their fill without spending sunny summer days stuffed inside a museum at Fort Tyron Park, where almost 5,000 medieval pieces are on display at the Cloisters, a converted monastery. The hilly park also has amazing Hudson River reviews, picnic spots, a dog run, two playgrounds and a romantic restaurant and bar, New Leaf.
Riverside Drive to Broadway, W. 192 Street to Dyckman Street, Manhattan (Credit: Flickr/Jim Forest)
With your dog: Carl Schurz Park
Carl Schurz Park is one of the most dog-friendly parks in the city, with a scenic promenade along the East River, two dog runs and wide open spaces that four-legged visitors are welcome to roam. For human guests, it also offers views of the Roosevelt Island Lighthouse and Gracie Mansion, basketball courts and great spots for sunbathing.
E. 86th Street and East End Avenue, Manhattan (Credit: Flickr/istolethetv)
To escape to the Northeast: Pelham Bay Park
New York City's largest park is also its easiest place to escape it all, filled with lush, green hiking trails and a rocky, 13-mile shoreline reminiscent of a seaside town in Maine. If soaking in nature isn't enough, its attractions include horseback riding trails, two golf courses, the historic Bartow-Pell Mansion and, of course, Orchard Beach.
Pelham Bridge Road, Bronx (Credit: Flickr/Alan Houston)
For history lovers: Fort Totten Park
Sunbathers get a side of history with their tans at Fort Totten Park, a green space surrounding a fortress from the Civil War. Exercise your mind while you explore the old structures and ponder New York City's past, and then work out your body as you paddle a canoe along the Long Island Sound. Guided tours are available. Cross Island Parkway between Totten Avenue and 15th Road, Bayside, Queens (Credit: Emilio Guerra)
To ride a carousel: Willowbrook Park
While some wander to Willowbrook Park for the hiking trails, bird-watching and fishing in its lake, families are drawn to it for its unique recreational activities-- including the Carousel for All Children, with a Staten Island theme and hand-carved wooden animals, and its archery range.
Richmond Avenue, Victory Boulevard, Ashworth Avenue and Forest Hill Road, Staten Island (Credit: Flickr/Andrea)
For boating: Clove Lakes Park
Fun on the water is the highlight every summer at Clove Lakes Park, a protected wildlife site with multiple lakes and ponds perfect for paddleboating or canoeing. Flower lovers will also enjoy the perennial garden and the park's 300-year-old tulip tree, and athletes can take advantage of the football, soccer and baseball fields. Paddleboats are available to rent for $10 per hour at the Lake Club.
1150 Clove Rd., Staten Island (Credit: Flickr/jhillen69)