Hidden Parks and Greenery

ABOVE Late afternoon stroll in Cloves Lake Park, Staten Island Greenbelt
ABOVE Late afternoon stroll in Cloves Lake Park, Staten Island Greenbelt
New York reveals a surprising number of green spaces where you can wiggle your toes in the grass and forget that you’re in the concrete jungle. Central Park is, of course, de rigueur on every New York itinerary, but venture farther afield and you’ll find quiet pockets of greenery that you might share only with the chirping birds.

For a reminder that Manhattan is, in fact, an island, head to its southern tip. Tucked behind the sun-speckled promenade lies the petite, peaceful Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Park, with its gentle grassy slopes, pretty linden trees, and sweeping views of the East River and the Statue of Liberty. For a romantic escape, roam the lush Brooklyn Botanic Garden, with their acres of fragrant foliage, from orchids to honeysuckle.

New York’s coastal areas have some splendid patches of greenery, including Fire Island’s Sunken Forest, one of the few remaining maritime forests on the eastern seaboard. Its mist-soaked gnarled trees look like they’ve been plucked straight out of a Tolkien novel. The ferry to Staten Island is one of the city’s great deals, offering top-notch views of the Statue of Liberty and the city skyline – for free. Upon arrival, make for the center of the island, where you’ll find the Greenbelt, a lush nature reserve of verdant forest, streams, and lakes. Staten Island also features a superlative: Todt Hill, the highest natural point in the five boroughs of New York (and also where the 1972 epic The Godfather was filmed).

Trek to the top and gaze out at the rolling greenery that gives way to the sparkling Upper Bay. Standing here, you might just forget you’re in New York

Practical Information

Brooklyn Botanic Garden 1000 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn; subway: lines 2 or 3 to Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum, lines B or Q to Prospect Park or line 4 to Franklin Avenue;

Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Park Near Rector Place and the Esplanade in Battery Park, on the southern tip of Manhattan; subway: lines 1, R or W to Rector Street;

Staten Island Greenbelt and Todt Hill Staten Island; public transportation: take the ferry or the 11X, 12X or 13X express buses to get from Manhattan to Staten Island;

Sunken Forest On Fire Island, just to the south of Long Island; public transportation: take the LIRR (Long Island Railroad) from Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan to Bay Shore, from where it’s a 15-minute walk or a short taxi ride to the ferry (30 minutes to Fire Island);

Leave a Comment