Where to Relax with a Book in New York City

Peace and Quiet in the Big City

New York is busy, as you probably know. It's the city that never sleeps. But every now and then you need to find somewhere relaxing and quiet to read a book, chill, meditate, draw in your sketchbook, or just relax in your own way. Fear not, we've assembled a list of some of the best places to find that solitude you need to relax with your book (or do one of those other things) for a little bit of time in a quiet spot.
Central Park
Central Park
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
Bryant Park
Bryant Park
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
Planning a trip to New York City? You might also be interested in A Train Lover's Guide to New York City and Where to Rest and Find Peace and Quiet in New York City.
Washington Square Park
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
Prospect Park
Prospect 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.
Bethesda Terrace & Fountain
Bethesda Terrace & Fountain
In the heart of Central Park sits the Bethesda Fountain and the Terrace which overlooks it along with the lake. This scenic spot has appeared in multiple films and TV shows over the decades, and it's a very popular spot with tourists and locals alike.
Central Park, NYC, New York
Castle Clinton
This monument, previously Fort Clinton and Castle Garden, is a sandstone fort that is found in Battery Park. It once served as the first immigration station between 1855 and 1890 before Ellis Island.
NYC, New York
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
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
Planning a trip to New York City? You might also be interested in A Culture Lover's Guide to New York City and Free Things to Do in Queens.
Greenacre Park
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
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
Duane Park
This small park is found in the Tribeca neighborhood.
168 Duane Street, NYC, New York, 10013
Teardrop Park
This public park is in lower Manhattan near the World Trade Center.
211 North End Avenue, NYC, New York, 10282
Liz Christy Garden
This was the first and oldest community garden in New York City.
111 East Houston Street, NYC, New York, 10013
Brighton Beach
Next door to all the fun at Coney Island, Brighton Beach has some wide sandy beaches with a relaxing but fun vibe. As expected, it's very popular in the summer months when the water and weather is warmer. Lifeguards are on duty during the day in the summer, and the facilities are wheelchair accessible, too.
Ocean Parkway to Corbin Place, Brooklyn, New York City, New York
Interested in more travel advice for New York City? Check out The Best Science Museums in New York City and The 17 Best Children's Museums in 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
Union Square
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.
Carroll Gardens
This upscale neighborhood offers historic charm and trendy attractions. The main entertainment streets through the neighborhood are Court and Smith Streets, which run parallel to each other and offer a number of cultural attractions. There are family owned restaurants, cute shops, and fine dining options all in the area.
Brooklyn
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.
Brooklyn
Battery Park
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.
Alice’s Garden
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
New York City has plenty more to offer, so see also our other articles: The Best Parks, Gardens, and Things to Do Outdoors in New York City and The Best Iconic Skyscrapers to Visit in New York City.
How much does it cost?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $6 to $275. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $57. A few of the best options are below.

Where to Stay in New York City

Budget Your Trip

Budget Your Trip has average travel costs for thousands of cities around the world, all provided by other travelers. You can also register to organize your spending by category and location with graphs, maps, charts, and tables.

Search for Travel Costs

Read More
New York City has plenty more to offer, so see also our other articles: Famous Squares and Plazas to Visit in New York City and The Best Planetariums to Visit near New York City.
Share This Page

Some of the links on this website are sponsored or affiliate links which help to financially support this site. By clicking the link and making a purchase, we may receive a small commission, but this does not affect the price of your purchase.