NYC Weekend Guide: Outdoor Spaces

Spring is now in full swing in New York; the trees are blooming, the birds are singing, and the streets are packed with New Yorkers getting all the sun they can handle. Every season in New York there’s something wonderful that goes along with it, and in the spring, it’s like the city is waking up and everyone’s leaving their tiny apartments and venturing outside. Going to one of New York City’s many incredible outdoor spaces or parks is one of the best ways to pass the time in the warm weather; how could you possibly stay inside on those perfect sunny days? I find it very hard to focus when the city is calling my name and the rays are waiting to coat my skin with warmth and color. So I, along with millions of other New Yorkers, head to the closest thing to nature we have here in the city: the parks.

Central Park, Washington Square, Hudson River Park and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens are just a few of my favorites. The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens are breathtaking and it only costs $10 to spend an afternoon feeling like you are hours away from the city. Also, not to mention a relatively new outdoor space, The Highline, which used to be a train track raised 30 feet above the street, to get the dangerous freight trains out of the way of Manhattan’s most industrial district. No trains have run on the tracks since 1980, and just two years ago in 2009, the Highline was re-opened as a preserved and elevated public park. It runs from Gansevoort Street to West 34th street, and the view is breathtaking, overlooking the Hudson and the Meatpacking district as well as parts of Chelsea. In the summer, there are even movie showings up there, where hundreds of people gather to watch interesting films under the stars and above the streets.

It goes without saying that Central Park is the largest park in the city. It’s the most famous, and it has so much to offer. It’s stunning size and beauty is definitely a good reason to ditch work and walk lazily along its tree-lined paths. In the middle of the park, there’s a good possibility you’ll feel like you’ve left the city and been transported to somewhere far away, somewhere green and vast. It’s a really unique feeling to be on the bustling and loud Fifth Avenue one minute, and the next you’re lost in the trees and green grass. I suggest bringing a picnic and your friends for a long Saturday lounging in the grass and walking through the winding pathways. You’ll feel renewed and refreshed being “out of the city” for a day. It’s always nice to get away.

I happen to live very close to the Hudson River Park, so I can say with the knowledge of a local that it is one of the most wonderful places to go outside in New York in the spring. The Hudson River Park is a 550-acre riverside park and estuarine sanctuary, including beautiful public piers over the river. The park follows the west side of Manhattan from Battery Place to West 59th Street. My favorite part of the Hudson River Park is the piers, which are usually packed with people when the weather is nice. Half-naked people flock there in the summer to get a good tan, as there are no large trees to block the sunlight. There are runners, bikers, walkers, roller-bladers, strollers, and all kinds of physical activities going on all the time here; I have even seen a couple practicing their fencing here once. (Because, of course, where else in this compact city are you supposed to practice your fencing skills?! Finally we’ve found a place!) The piers are so close to the good restaurants and cozy coffee shops in the West Village that you could literally spend your whole weekend here and never have to leave. Not to mention Magnolia Bakery is close-by, and those vanilla cupcakes are the perfect treat on a sunny weekend day on the pier.

So this spring, do yourself a huge favor and get outside. The fresh air and sunlight are incredibly good for you and we all could use a little more of it. It always leaves me smiling and happy and refreshed.

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