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Getaway Parks for the Staycationing New Yorker

Vacationing in the Big Apple? Here are some park gems that are perfect for relaxing, and exploring New York City while on a staycation: 

1. Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan

Photo of the Henry Hudson Bridge at Inwood Hill Park by Malcolm Pinckney

Fall in love with this beautiful view of the Henry Hudson Bridge here at Inwood Hill Park. Relax out on the dock at Muscota Marsh, where all kinds of birds, like egrets and blue herons, visit, or plan a picnic or barbecue on the hills that look out to the waterfront.

Photo of Inwood Hill Park's forest by Malcolm Pinckney

Venture out on one of the nature trails through the park's towering forest, the only remaining natural forest in Manhattan. Keep your eyes peeled for hawks, owls, and eagles that live high up in the tulip trees, oaks, and maples. Discover iconic historic treasures such as Shorakkopoch Rock where it is believed Manhattan was purchased in 1626, and the former site of the Continental Army's Fort Cockhill. Head out on the green trail that leads out to the Hudson River Greenway, for a beautiful, up-close view of the Hudson River and the New Jersey Palisades. Stick around for the sunset! More information about Inwood Hill Park >

2. The Greenbelt, Staten Island

Photo by Daniel Avila

The Greenbelt is a large series of parks in middle of Staten Island. Willowbrook Park, shown here, is the most visited of The Greenbelt parks, and a great place for a fun day out with the family. Lay down by the brook for a picnic, join our Urban Park Rangers on canoeing or fishing programs, bring your bows and arrows to the archery range, take archery lessons, ride on the carousel, go hiking in the woods, or host a pick-up baseball game. South of Willowbrook Park, other local favorites include the Historic Richmond Town (a 300-year-old, preserved historic village), La Tourette Park Golf Course, and the Greenbelt Yellow Trail (Southwest Trailhead) to Todt Hill—the highest natural point on the Eastern Seaboard at 410 feet above sea level. More information about The Greenbelt

3. Alley Pond Park, Queens

Photo of the forest at Alley Pond Park by Daniel Avila

Venture out into the woods on one of the park's many hiking trails that lead past an oak-hickory forest, ponds, salt marshes, a windmill, and the tallest and oldest tree in New York City

Photo of the Alley Pond Park Adventure Course by Daniel Avila

Looking to amp up the fun? Try out the park's obstacle course! The Alley Pond Park Adventure Course features a human swingshot, rope courses, a climbing wall, zipline, trust-fall stations, and more. The adventure course is free on SundaysMore information about Alley Pond Park >

4. Kaiser Park and Calvert Vaux Park, Brooklyn

If you're looking for a quieter alternative to Coney Island Beach and Boardwalk, head over to Kaiser Park and Calvert Vaux Park on the other side of the peninsula.

Photo of Kaiser Park by Malcolm Pinckney

Locals cherish this beautiful view of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and access to the shoreline. Swimming is not allowed here, but you can enjoy a lovely walk along the shore or go fishing. The park's amenities also includes dog-friendly areas, ball fields, game boards, running tracks, and playgrounds with spray showers! More information about Kaiser Park >

Photo of Calvert Vaux Park by Adrian Sas

When it's low tide, head across the way to Calvert Vaux Park's shoreline. You'll find a piece of New York's secret history there, as you can spot old ships and a yellow submarine that were left abandoned under the water. Low tide is also the perfect time to see horseshoe crabs, fiddler crabs, and shore birds along the waterfront. Check out this tour of Calvert Vaux Park with our park ranger to learn more about what you can see along the park shore. More information about Calvert Vaux Park >

5. Bronx River Greenway

Photo of canoeing in the Bronx River Forest by Malcolm Pinckney

Discover waterfalls, places to go canoeing, and remnants of the Bronx's past on your next adventure at the Bronx River Greenway. The Greenway connects a series of parks along the Bronx River, NYC's only freshwater river. Stop by iconic places such as the Bronx Zoo and New York Botanical Garden but be sure to check out other off-the-radar gems like the preserved Bronx River Forest and a former concrete plant that's now a park. Find more places to visit at the Bronx River Greenway >

6. Fort Washington Park, Manhattan

Photo by Daniel Avila

Visit Manhattan island's only lighthouse and the star of the popular kids storybook The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge. Hang out by the shore to enjoy beautiful views of the New Jersey Palisades, the George Washington Bridge, and lower Manhattan's skyline. Bike to the park from the Hudson River Greenway or take the 181st Street overpass. Pack dinner; there are picnic tables by the waterfront and you wouldn't want to miss the sunset from here. Want to take a tour of the lighthouse? Come to the Little Red Lighthouse Festival on September 24, 2016. More information about Fort Washington Park >

7. Marine Park, Brooklyn

Photo of canoeing at Marine Park by Elizabeth Green

Hike through the salt marsh at Brooklyn's largest park, rent a pedal boat, kayak, or canoe from Wheel Fun Rentals to head out on our own self-guided tour of the park, or join a canoeing/kayaking event with our Urban Park Rangers. 

Photo of Gerritsen Creek by Daniel Avila

Take in the lovely view of Gerritsen Creek, once home to the nation's first flour-grist mill, which was built in 1645. The mill is no longer here but you can still see remnants of the mill—the wood pilings across the creek at low tide. More information about Marine Park >

8. Staten Island's South Shore

Photo: Wolfe's Pond Beach by Daniel Avila

Escape to Staten Island's beautiful south shore for quiet, romantic beaches, lush hiking trails, lovely waterfront views, and the perfect spots to go birding. Explore Staten Island's South Shore >

9. Fort Totten Park, Queens

Photo by Daniel Avila

Visit this old, Civil War-era fort that overlooks the bay in Bayside, Queens. The fort is a preserved landmark that was built in 1862! 

Photo of Fort Totten Pool by Daniel Avila

Cool down at Fort Totten Pool; admission is free. And, if you have more time, walk over to Little Bay Park for a pretty view of the waterfront and the Whitestone Bridge. Own a canoe or kayak? You can launch your boat from hereMore information about Fort Totten Park >

10. Wave Hill, Bronx

Photo Courtesy of Wave Hill

Looking for a romantic getaway during your New York City staycation? Step into 28 acres of strikingly, beautiful botanic gardens at Wave Hill. Take a romantic stroll, tour the mansion, enjoy a picnic, or stop by during the late afternoon hours for an awe-inspiring sunset over the New Jersey Palisades. Admission is free on Tuesday mornings and Saturday mornings. More information about Wave Hill >

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