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Best New York City Parks That Aren't Central Park

Let's be honest, if we proudly suggested that you check out a little place called "Central Park" when visiting New York City your reaction would more than likely read something like this; "Gee, thanks for the intel guys, really cutting edge stuff", at which point you would delete YAHglobal.Com from your "Favorites" (where it is now...right?!?) and "Browsing History", and opt for the New York City In A Day book stuffed in the hotel room drawer. Not to mention, some of the more timid folk may feel a little weary of frolicking through this leafy land of mugger infamy.

Instead, in true YAHglobal.Com form, we are suggesting parks outside of the city's most well known playground, for those seeking a day outside to jog, stroll, picnic, sight-see, or sit on a bench and people watch. Some of the listed have also served as settings for famous Hollywood films and TV shows. Central Park isn't the only one with a good agent, so cut these other parks a break and pay them a visit when in NYC.


Bryant Park, Midtown Manhattan

Located in Manhattan, Bryant Park is a symbol of the revitalization of New York City that took place in the 1990's, and thankfully carried through to present day to the benefit of both citizens and the visiting public. The "Great Lawn" is a massive green turfed lunch room for the midtown office crew that packs this area, brown bags and lattes in hand, while recreational folk toss frisbees or pass out with hands cupped behind their heads on red and white checkered blankets. The expanse also becomes a makeshift stadium as Bryant Park is known to hold some of the city's biggest outdoor events such as the HBO Summer Film Festival along with a bevy of other fashion, arts, and entertainment related ongoings.

Once the trees of Bryant Park's leaves turn into hues of red, orange and yellow, the lawn closes to create the city's second or third, depending on what you heard, most famous ice skating rink which is often mistaken in film as being Rockefeller Center or Central Park, by those less privy to New York City. The holiday season makes Bryant Park especially attractive as Christmas comes to life with the annual "Holiday Shops" promenade, where vendors sell their seasonal creations to knick knack happy consumers.

Bryant Parks film resume is quite impressive as it has made appearances in movies such as the timeless classic Ghostbusters, and in TV with one of its most famous New York based programs of all time, Sex in the City. Other attractions include New York's second largest building Bank of America Tower, the impressive Bryant Hotel, a photo worthy statue of park namesake William Cullen Bryant, and for the kids there is the beautiful Le Carrousel (yes, a carousel ride). There are also areas that offer activities ranging from intense matches of chess to at times even more intense games of Ping Pong.

Finally, in a juxtaposing manner, one of the best features of Bryant Park is its free wireless network. If the weather and battery pack allows, leave your cushy seat at Starbuck's and head over to a rustic bench at Bryant Park and do your "work", facebooking and YAHking (sorry, we haven't come up with catchy term for your online time at YAHglobal.Com yet) at this Manhattan green space alternative.


Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village, Manhattan

Washington Square Park is visually one of the best known parks in New York. What this means is that "foreigners" to New York City frequently recognize it in film and photo enough that they know that they are seeing a famous NYC landmark, but they most likely could not tell you the name or specific location. Thus, when they venture to the city, they walk around, cameras slung around their necks, asking people where they can find that "Arch" thingy.

Located in Hipsterville Greenwich Village, Washington Square Park is historied in non-conformity and politics (or anti-politics) and thus one can find a congregation of culturally conscious gatherers in the midst of seemingly relevant conversation, while the fountain backdrop complete with folksingers and guitar laden struggling artists provide the soundtrack.

Attractions include statues of George Washington, Garibaldi, and of course the world famous Arch which frames the Empire State Building from the right angle. You will want to be sure and include this on your photo itinerary.

Chess is a big deal in Washington Square Park, with chess shops nearby and outdoor tables built on the southwest corner, serving as an arena for players and onlookers alike. Famed filmmaker Stanley Kubrik played here in his youth, which adds to the aura, and chess flick Searching for Bobby Fischer was filmed at this place. Other notable movies using Washington Square Park include Hair, When Harry Met Sally, August Rush, I Am Legend, and countless other film, photo, and literary works.


Riverside Park, Upper West Side, Manhattan

Riverside Park may one day be known as Trump (Donald) Park one day, due to the fact that he owns much of the surrounding property and is personally responsible for expanding 23 acres of the park. Don't feel too sympathetic for our coiffure challenged friend, thinking that it was done out strictly out of altruistic goodwill on his part. The deal was done so that Trump would be allowed by the Parks Board to expand private real estate surrounding the south end of the Riverside.

The park edges along Hudson River with a bike, skate and skooter friendly pathway, not to mention many scenic walking and jogging routes. Accompanying recreation areas include kayaking, basketball and tennis courts as well as soccer and baseball fields. The springtime at Riverside Park is especially beautiful with blossoms and flowers in full bloom along the 91st Street Promenade. The Romantic Comedy/Drama "You've Got Mail" found it's finale at the very same place.

Other movies using Riverside Park as a backdrop include less than romantic genres, but make for some great anecdotal points of interest for lovers of film of the darker variety. Death Wish and The Warriors (Baseball Fury turf!) are the most notable and Seinfeld's episode inlvolving The Lopper serial killer feature this recreation area as his favored "zone" of choice for finding victims. Other popular attractions at Riverside Park include the Eleanor Roosevelt Monument, Joan of Arc Statue and Grant's Tomb.

Riverside Park might not be as vast and storied as the other parks topping this list, but it is less inundated with tourists and thus makes for a great escape from Manhattan's Upper West Side.


Hudson River Park, Manhattan

Hudson River Park is an activity hub in Manhattan and very family friendly. The 5 mile (with .5 markers) pathway running from the southern tip of Manhattan to West 59th make this recreation area a favorite among bicyclists and joggers. The amenities are plentiful at this waterfront park with many concessions (and thus bathrooms) along the way.

Dozens of piers line the river's edge with pit stop after pit stop presenting itself to the eager public. The NYC Passenger Terminals make Hudson River Park a great people watching zone as a heavy concentration of foot traffic makes its way along the borders of the park. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum at Pier 86 makes for a good visit for casual observers while the Chelsea Piers Sports & Entertainment Complex situated between Pier 59 and 60 is perfect for the more active inclined. Field sports as well as baseball (including batting cages), Tennis and basketball courts are abound. Boating and related activities such as kayaking, outrigger, mooring, rowing and sailing are a prominent feature at Hudson River Park as is swimming and sunbathing in the summertime. Swing a golf club in the direction of the river at Chelsea Piers with rentals, lessons and golf parties available for your enjoyment. Families are especially catered to at Hudson River Park, a bountiful land of playgrounds, and home to the Pier 62 Carousel which fits 36 kids, or kids at heart, per ride.

The reason that Hudson River doesn't top this list is that it feels less like a green space park than it does an outdoor recreational facility. But that is also the reason it made the list in the first place. What you don't necessarily find in solace at this park, you will be more than compensated by not lacking in variety of options to keep you and your party thoroughly entertained.