5 Manhattan Hidden Parks Just As Lovely As Central Park

Yes, we know how to relax and take in the scenery.

Although it’s easy to go straight to Central Park, New York City hosts a series of hidden gems that can provide the same amount of, if not more, serenity. Central Park may be large and multifaceted, but it is worth taking a break at the below hidden treasures dotted around the city. Yes, we are a bustling metropolitan just trying to get a coffee fix, but we also know how to relax and take in the scenery.

1. The Garden at St Luke in the Fields

485 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014 (map, website)
st-lukes
Flickr/St Lukes

As if the West Village needed more charm, there is a secret garden hidden behind a tall brick wall at 485 Hudson St. Enter the small gated door to find a complete oasis of blossoms and songbirds. The Garden at St Luke in the Fields is one of those hidden treasures only known to a few. Open to the public between 8 a.m. and dusk, the small plot offers various American floras and a stopover for migratory birds. Winding pathways open up to small corners with inviting benches. There is a rose garden, and if you happen to visit during mid-April, you can catch the cherry blossoms.

2. Hua Mei Bird Garden

Chrystie St & Forsyth St, New York, NY 10002 (map, website)

Another small reminder of the intricacies of our city is the Hua Mei Bird Garden. Located in the Sara D. Roosevelt Park, south of Delancey St, the garden has various collectors of songbirds with their best pets on display. The cages sit within the garden or hang on trees, each with singing birds. The collectors began to gather in the early 1990s and had the city recognize the park in 1995. The park is named after the Hua Mei, a distinctive songbird common in China.

3. Straus Park

West End Ave & W 106th St/W 107th St, New York, NY 10025 (map, website)
straus
Flickr/Straus

Located at 106th St and Broadway sits the small and serene Straus Park, named after Isidor and Ida Staus. The namesake couple unfortunately died on the maiden voyage of the Titanic, and thus the park was made as a memorial. Isidor Straus and his brother – a pair of German immigrants – started Macy’s department store in the early 20th century. His wife was a well-known philanthropist. The sculpture in the idle of the park was made to commemorate their love and devotion to the city. A bronze depiction of Memory, made by Augustus Lukeman, lies at the head of a bed of flowers. An inscription below reads, “Lovely and pleasant were they in their lives. And in their death they were not divided. II Samuel 1:23” It is a reference to Ida, who decided to stay with her husband as the Titanic sank, rather than save herself with the other women and children.

4. Boat basin at 79th St

W 79th St, New York, NY 10024 (map, website)
boat-basin
Flickr/Boat Basin

Considering this park is located inside a traffic circle, it is often overlooked and hard to find. The entire area, however, is located at a much lower level than the ensuing traffic, blocking out any noise or view of the speeding cards entering the Henry Hudson Parkway. The open air courtyard has a charming café with seating overlooking the Hudson River. The rotunda is located amidst a park with winding paths hugging the Hudson. The café also offers themed festivals, such as Oktoberfest in the fall.

5. Fort Tyron Park

Riverside Dr To Broadway, New York, NY 10040 (map, website)
ft-tyron
Flickr/Ft Tyron

Many people don’t realize that our bustling Metropolitan hosts a castle. But nestled within Fort Tyron Park is the Cloisters, an outpost of the Metropolitan Museum appropriately holding their medieval collection. The entire park and castle is a result of the devotion of John D Rockefeller to his city. Rockefeller slowly bought up the estates that were located in this area, renovated the park and donated it to the city in 1935. Further, the entire project provided jobs during the Great Depression. He bought George Grey Barnard’s medieval collection, donated it to The Met and also bought various European medieval castles to host the works. The castles were reassembled together stone by stone and completed in 1939. Surrounding the castle is 8 miles worth of walkways, winding between Ice Age glacial striations and views of the Hudson River. And luckily, Rockefeller bought the land across the river to preserve the view from the park and save it from development.

Danielle Parga

Contributor

Danielle is a New Yorker, Yankees fan and loves to jaywalk. She travels extensively and constantly looking for the Chupacabra. She enjoys "teatime" with her Kiwi life partner, instead of "Dinnertime."

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