New York City has hundreds of parks and there is plenty to do outdoors, from birding to hiking to kayaking. Check it out:
New York City may not seem like a likely place to go bird watching but if you’re paying attention, you can see some of the more than 200 species of birds in the City. New York City is in the Atlantic Flyway so migratory birds come through on their seasonal patterns.
Some common species in New York City are: American robins, red tailed hawks, gray catbirds, and cardinals.
If you look closely, you may be treated to some of the City’s less common species, such as blackburnian warblers, broadbill sandpiper and calliope hummingbirds.
Canoeing and Kayaking
For some great views of the city as well as a little exercise, grab a canoe or kayak and hit the water.
There are a surprising number of boathouses in New York City, some offering free rowing sessions. For more information, check out Time Out New York’s list of canoeing and kayaking resources. Check out the NYC parks website for information on the 160 square mile New York City Water Trail.
There are quite a few hiking options in and around New York City. From urban trails to woodland paths, there is a hike for just about everyone. Check out this list of trails.
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Located in Brooklyn and Queens, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is over 9,000 acres. Rich in plant and animal life with trails, marshes, beaches and ponds, the Refuge is peaceful getaway from the City.
Activities at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge include archery, swimming, biking, boating, birding, walking and more. Find out more about Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, including their programs offered year round guided tours of the park at National Park Service and New York Harbor Parks.
Manhattan Waterfront Greenway
The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway is a 32 mile walking, cycling and rollerblading/skating route running around the entire island.
The greenway is separated from motor traffic and, for the most part, runs along the waterfront, sometimes through parks and recreational areas. It is part urban promenade and part nature promenade as parts of it run along city streets. However, it still provides beautiful scenery along the water, city parks and open spaces.
The New York Botanical Gardens is 250 acres of diverse plant life. It encompasses 50 different gardens and plant collections, wetlands, a native forest with trees over 200 years old, a rock garden, a wrought iron greenhouse dating back to 1890 and more.
It is open year round and offers seasonal exhibitions as well as hand on activities and classes.
Located in the heart of Manhattan, Central Park offers a quite, nature refuge in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city. There are plenty of activities to enjoy in the park, including soaking in the sun on a soft patch of grass.
With lakes, ponds, walking biking and rollerblading paths, ice skating rinks, row boats, a swimming pool, the Central Park Zoo, the Central Park Conservatory Garden, a wildlife sanctuary, woods, a reservoir, and rock climbing, it is easy to forget you are in the heart of Manhattan.
The Greenbelt is 2,800 acres of parkland, forested hills and wetlands located in the middle of Staten Island. It is made up of traditional parks as well as natural areas allowing visitors a nice range of activities from golf and baseball to hiking and birdwatching.
The Greenbelt also offers a lot of organized activities such as yoga, tai chi, guided hikes and educational activities. It also has a Victorian Carousal to ride and is home to Todt Hill, the tallest peak on the United States eastern seaboard south of Maine (409 feet about sea level).
New York City is home to some over 1500 parks, many with great nature resources. If you would like information about walking tours, educational programs, trail maps, recreational activities in the City’s parks, visit one of the 15 Urban Park Ranger Nature Centers in the City.