Things to Do in New York City That Will Get You Outside
When the weather is nice, New York City is the perfect place to enjoy the outdoors. With its many parks, playgrounds, and outdoor markets, there really is a diversity of activities that will get you into the great outdoors. Below are just a few of the many venues that offer a great outdoor experience.
Hudson River Park
Stretching from Battery Park to 59th Street along the river, this is a nice grassy spot with bike and running trails. You can bike or jog along the waterfront looking at the river and across to the NJ side. You'll also find a playground here as well as some nice picnic spots in the grass.
Battery Park City to 59th St, Manhattan, New York City, NY
The Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art
This museum was built in the style of a hillside Tibetan monastery. It maintains the largest private collection of Tibetan art in the country, and the complex offers a peaceful and beautiful setting where you can explore, sit bay the goldfish pond, or look out at the water. There are often Sunday programs and shows with music, dance, and art, that are perfect for families.
338 Lighthouse Ave, Staten Island, NY, 10306
This is the largest weekly open-air food market in America, attracting 20,000-30,000 people to Brooklyn each weekend. There are more than 100 local vendors to chose from and this is the perfect place to enjoy New York City's local culture. You can experience the diversity of its culinary scene, try new and diverse foods, and step away from the typical tourist's circuit. This is also a great place to interact with locals, people watch, and see New York from outside of the tourist's perspective.
Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway
From Greenpoint Park to Sunset Park, this 26-mile route follows greenway paths around and on the East River so you don't have to worry about traffic. The views are also quite nice as you'll see greenery as well as the New York City skyline. It passes by Red Hook and the Bay Ridge neighborhood, too.
Brooklyn, New York City
Riverside Park 91st Street Garden
The curated garden at 91st Street in Riverside Park was made famous from a final scene in You've Got Mail
starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Located right by the water, this small but scenic garden hosts a variety of flowers blooming throughout the warmer months.
Riverside Drive at 91st St, New York, New York, 10024
Manhattan Waterfront Greenway
Around the waterfront of nearly the entire island of Manhattan is a greenway trail for walkers, joggers, and bikers. If you start at Battery Park at the southern end of Manhattan, you can go either way up the east or western side almost entirely up the river. While the bike paths continue to make a full circuit around Manhattan, on the north side around Harlem the greenway paths on the river turn inland and become bike lanes on the streets of the city. However, it's quite a long ride if you wish to stick to the waterfront greenway paths!
Manhattan, New York City, NY
Queens Night Market
This family-friendly night market not only has vendors that sell art, food, and antiques, there are also cultural performances and fun activities that everyone can enjoy. This is an open-air market that's found in Queens and it's an interesting place to wander and experience local New York culture.
Flushing Meadows, Corona Park, Queens, New York City, NY
Union Square Park is a popular place to tourists and locals alike. The park is a hub of activity and there always seems to be something going on. Locals are often in the park playing chess, and there are performers that entertain tourists and those passing by. The park also has lots of public artwork as well as the Metronome and Countdown Clock, which shows 24 hour time from left to right and also counts down the time that's left in the day. Various markets are also held here at different times of the year, such as Christmas.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
This beautiful park has many flowers, green spaces, outdoor art, and cultural institutions. There's also a lake, historical walks, sports fields, a skating rink, marina, and carousels. It's the perfect place for a family to hang out and there's entertainment here for kids and adults of all ages.
Chelsea Waterslide Playground
Located in Hudson River Park, this colorful playground is fun for all ages! There are water features, fun fish shaped climbing equipment, a sand area, and shaded seating that's perfect for a parent to who needs to rest their legs. After a busy day exploring, everyone will feel refreshed after a stop at this fun playground.
Hudson River Park
Prospect Park is located in Brooklyn and is a family-friendly place to explore with a carousel, a zoo, and Greenmarket. There's plenty of grassy areas and green space where you can enjoy a picnic or meet some friends at the ball fields for a pick-up game. During the warmer months you can also catch some outdoor music or even a show at the Prospect Park Bandshell.
This is New York City's largest curated weekly market and it's held every Sunday throughout the year. It spreads through both an indoor and outdoor setting and vendors include local artists, designers, and antique dealers. It's the perfect place to browse or shop for one-of-a-kind items and collectibles. There's furniture, jewelry, fashion, as well as some food items.
100 W 77th St., (at Columbus Ave.), Upper West Side, Manhattan, NY
This creative playground inspires kids to use their imagination. At the heart of the playground are foam blocks that kids can use to build structures or control the flow of water. They can even build their own boat for the wading pool. This playground is designed perfectly to get kids working together to come up if fun ideas and engineer their very own projects.
158 John Street at Burling Slip
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Sitting on the edge of the water between DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights, this park offers a number of great facilities and recreational activities. There's a bouldering wall, a roller skating rink, a pop-up pool during the summer months, and bocce courts. This is the perfect park to enjoy a run or a bike ride. The park also offers stunning views of the Manhattan skyline as it meanders along the waterfront, with the most spectacular spot being by Jane's Carousel, between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge.
Piggybacking on the Egyptian Art collection found at the Met, this playground offers climbing equipment, slides, swings, and water features that inspire kids of all ages to become explorers and archeologists. This playground, in Central Park, is the perfect place to pass some time before heading out to see more sites in New York City.
Union Square Greenmarket
This Farmer's Market is held several times a week and offers local produce, flowers, and a variety of food items. It's located in Union Square and is popular with the locals.
Times Square is one of the most famous areas in New York City. It's known for its brightly lit billboards which really brighten the city at night. But even if you visit during the day you'll find the area filled with energy, activity, and people. If the crowds get to be too much, there are bleachers set up on one side where you can sit and take a break. Times Square is also recognizable as the location of the iconic ball drop on New Years Eve. It's also an entertainment center for the city.
Times Square is in the Midtown Manhattan neighborhood at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue.
Battery Park is most notable for its beautiful views that look out over the water towards the Statue of Liberty. This is a larger park that can offer a quiet retreat from the chaos of the nearby Financial District. But it also serves as the departure point for the ferries to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, so there can be crowds of tourists in certain areas. Street performers are common in the park as well, but be prepared because watching for too long will likely come with a high price tag.
St. Vincent's Triangle Park
This triangular plaza is in the middle of Greenwich Village and is the location of the New York City AIDS Memorial. The park also has beautiful vegetation and plenty of seating where wanderers can rest their weary legs. Whether you want to watch the people passing by or just take a moment to reflect to yourself, this is a nice space to spend some time.
Queens County Farm Museum
This fun and family-friendly museum lets kids and adults explore everything about life on a farm, including getting to know the animals. They have pigs, alpacas, sheep, goats, and chickens, as well as hay rides, a bush maze, and a variety of education events. They also have seasonal activities such as pumpkin picking in the fall and more. Most days are free, except during special events.
73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Queens, Floral Park, New York, 11004
Head to this island between the months of May and October (it's closed other times of the year). In addition to fountains where kids can play, there's a zip line, rock wall, and even a mini golf course. The national park service also offers educational programming, so it's fun and informative. The island spans 172 acres and it's the perfect place for walking, running, or cycling. There's also a lot of history here. As you arrive on the island, the first thing you'll likely notice is the breathtaking views of the city. Bring your camera and enjoy your day!
New York Harbor
The Rockefeller Center
New York's iconic Rockefeller Center is a must-see for visitors. It is a large complex that includes 19 commercial buildings and spreads out over 22 acres in Midtown Manhattan. There's an observation deck called Top of the Rock that offers beautiful views from a tower that stands 70 floors high. It has been the home of NBC Studios since 1933 and is open for public tours.
The Rockefeller Center is a quintessential destination during the Christmas season when the iconic Christmas tree is lit and the ice skating rink is opened in the plaza.
45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY, 10111
Pier 6 Playgrounds
Kids love these playgrounds at Brooklyn Bridge Park. There are variety of playgrounds to choose from including the Water lab, which has a spinning water wheel, splash pools, and more. There's also Sandbox Village, Slide Mountain, and Swing Valley. Don't forget to stop by the nearby Ample Hills ice cream for a refreshing treat.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Bronx Night Market
This is the first open air food market in the Bronx. Featuring a large selection of vendors that sell food, drinks, and artisan goods, this market is popular during the warmer months. It's located in Fordham Plaza from April thru November every Saturday night. If you want to get outside of Manhattan and see a bit of the local nightlife, then this street market is fun to explore
In Chelsea, this small "secret" garden on 34th St and 10th Ave hosts a variety of flowers in a cozy and beautiful environment.
34th and 10th Ave, New York City, New York
Silver Lake Park
This park spreads out over 200 acres and it offers an excellent spot to run, bike, or explore. There's a large lake that's perfect for bird watching, and several great spots where you can enjoy a picnic. There's also a nearby 18 hole golf course. Kids will love the playground and scenic bridge.
Roosevelt Island is a great place to hang out with a family. There are two miles of waterfront that you can explore with impressive views of Manhattan and Queens. There is also plenty of green space, parks, and a playground. For a picnic, head to the southern tip of the island and grab a spot at Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, which has views of both Manhattan and Queens.
Gantry State Park
This 12 acre park runs along the East River and has a unique mix of industry and nature. There are abandoned steel structures, but also natural green spaces, a playground, a water play, area, and a concession stand.
4-09 47th Rd, Queens, NY, 10007
Located on the waterfront in Brooklyn, this retail area is spread throughout a repurposed New York industrial site. It offers open air shopping, plenty of open space, and a unique experience. There's also a food court with a wide variety of options, and tons of shopping venues with anything you might need.
220 36th St, Suite 2-A, Brooklyn, NY, 11232
Located on 33rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, this square has a public amphitheater, some green space, and one of the Roy Lichtenstein Brushstroke Group sculptures. There are wooden bleachers where you can relax and there is often music or other activities going on by the amphitheater.
Liz Christy Garden
This was the first and oldest community garden in New York City.
111 East Houston Street, NYC, New York, 10013
Canal Street & Canal Street Market
Canal Street is in Lower Manhattan and it runs east to west from East Broadway to West Street. It passes through Chinatown and ends at the edge of SoHo and Little Italy. The Canal Street Market is a unique retail market and community space with food, shopping, and more.
261 Canal Street, NYC, New York, 10013
Fort Tryon Park
Fort Tryon Park, in Hudson Heights, has 67 acres of forest area that overlooks the Hudson River and George Washington Bridge. A certain 3-acre section resembles an English estate garden. Other areas have a unique collection of trees which bloom during various seasons.
63 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort George, NYC, New York, 10040
Queens Botanical Gardens
Located at 43-50 Main Street in Flushing in Queens, the 39 acres of the Queens Botanical Gardens features rose, bee, herb, wedding, and perennial gardens, as well as an arboretum, art gallery, and more. They also host seasonal events, children's activities, and community classes.
13598 Elder Avenue, Murray Hill, NYC, New York, 11355
This small park is found in the Tribeca neighborhood.
168 Duane Street, NYC, New York, 10013
Once a private estate with a beautiful garden dating back to 1843, this home is now owned by the city and is open to the public, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can tour both the gardens and the house for a small admission fee. The gardens consist of a variety of flora along with a few spots with magnificent views over the river. Also on the premises is an art gallery and gift shop. An entry fee is normally charged, but it's free before noon on Saturdays and Tuesdays.
665 West 252nd Street, Riverdale, New York, New York, 10471
Bryant Park, located between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and between 40th and 42nd Streets in Midtown Manhattan, is situated next to the Main Branch of the New York Public Library. Featuring a large field in the summer, and a very popular ice skating rink in the winter, this community park is a nice spot to relax, enjoy a quiet setting, have a picnic, or go for a walk.
6th Ave at 41st Street, New York, New York, 10018
Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan is one of the city's most famous public parks. Visitors here can find the huge Washington Arch which is a large, marble triumphant arch which serves as a landmark and honors the nation's first president. In front of the arch is a nice fountain. The arch also serves as the terminus for 5th Avenue. Also located in the square is a monument to Alexander Lyman Holley, along with some walking paths, benches, and shaded tree areas which make for a nice and relaxing picnic spot.
Washington Square Village, NYC, New York
This is a one acre elevated park at the World Trade Center.
NYC, New York
Washington Market Park
This urban park in the Tribeca neighborhood has a large playground and community gardens.
308 Greenwich Street, NYC, New York, 10013
This outdoor theatre in Central Park is home to the Shakespeare in the Park
shows which are free. Opening in 1962, this theatre has been home to a large number of free shows which are loved by adults and children alike. While sometimes the shows are based on Shakespeare's works, other times the theatre hosts musicals and other classic plays.
Central Park, NYC, New York
Barrett Park Staten Island Zoo
This suburban zoo is located in West New Brighton on Staten Island. It's a small, 8 acre zoo that has reptiles, spider monkeys, donkeys, foxes, cows, and more. It's also the home of the famed Staten Island Chuck, a groundhog who predicts the Groundhog Day forecast yearly for New York City. Admission is normally $10, but it's free
on Wednesday afternoons.
614 Broadway, West New Brighton, NYC, New York, 10310
Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden
On Staten Island this 83-acre garden and cultural center is home to not just gardens, but also historical buildings from the 19th century which were a home to retired sailors. Tudor and Victorian style buildings are mixed in with interesting garden areas representing different environments. A Chinese garden area has a koi pond and bamboo paths which make for a scenic walk. The cultural center hosts events and educational programs as well.
Cottage Road, West New Brighton, NYC, New York, 10301
Central Park Conservatory Garden
Flowers bloom across multiple seasons in this quiet area of Central Park located between 104th and 106th streets by Fifth Avenue. The Conservatory Garden spreads across 6 acres and opened to the public in 1937.
1230 5th Avenue, NYC, New York, 10035
The heart and lungs of New York City, the famous, expansive, and huge Central Park is an iconic destination in the city featuring a variety of smaller attractions and features within itself. From ball fields and jogging paths to botanical gardens, concert spaces, cafes, ponds, playgrounds, and more, the park offers something for everyone. Don't forget to take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the park - one of the quintessential tourist activities in the city.
New York City, New York
This is a public park that's located near the Brooklyn Bridge.
NYC, New York, 10000
Central Park Carousel
This vintage carousel located in Central Park (at the southern end of the park near East 65th Street) is the fourth carousel to run on this site, as a carousel has been here for many years. Kids love it, whether they are locals or visitors alike.
65th Street Transverse, NYC, New York, 10153
This small "vest-pocket" park on E. 51st Street between 2nd & 3rd Ave is a nice spot to relax. While it's small, it features a beautiful waterfall surrounded by shade trees, tables, and benches. Locals use it for a place to escape the office and enjoy the outdoors in the busy city for a lunch break or a quick coffee.
225 East 51st Street, NYC, New York, 10022
How much does it cost?
Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $6 to $780. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $95. A few of the best options are below.
Where to Stay in New York City