Our Favorite Outdoor Spots—Some Secret!—in N.Y.C.

April 19, 2016

This past weekend, you might have mistaken any given New Yorker for a more tropical islander: Everyone purred around outside in light attire and sunglasses, high on the first prolonged crisp breeze that didn't have a mean chill to it. There was sunshine. There was gladness. The attitude was alarmingly relaxed.

"Can we have all meetings outside today like this is some kind of New England liberal arts college?" our Product Manager asked first thing Monday morning on Slack.

lil heart doesn't even know what to do with itself

A photo posted by caro (@carolange13) on

There's never any telling what the weather will do on this island, but spring fever is officially—finally!—nigh and we're taking every opportunity to go outside and loll about in it.

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In keeping, we put together a list of our favorite outdoor spots in this concrete-bound city. There are plenty more than what's listed below—Manhattan (and Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, et al) being a coastal place and all, nearly any spot near the water is a good spot—but these nooks and roofs and patches of grass are our respites when the weather is ideal, when going outside is sufficient agenda enough for a whole weekend. See you there!

Outdoor Dining

For cocktails and easy meals, with a view.

79th Street Boat Basin Café (Upper West Side, Manhattan)

It's so beautiful and wonderful. Last summer I'd run there every day then about once a week have a drink with friends then walk home through the park. Much better than taking the subway. —Leslie Stephens

First stop of the day. #tourdebooze #monday #boatbasin #bikeride #westside #newyork

A photo posted by theycallmesplit (@theycallmesplit) on

The garden at Frankies 457 (Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn)

Not sure if this is still secret but it's my favorite... It has the cutest little outdoor garden. —Lizzie Greene

The garden at Trestle on Tenth (Chelsea, Manhattan)

Under the shade of a big leafy tree, this teensy garden is always perfectly shaded—and the house rosé is just the thing. —me

The rooftop at Gallow Green (Chelsea, Manhattan)

An urban oasis in the wasteland that we call “West Chelsea.” —Jane Poretsky

The flood gates are open. GARDEN IS READY at #Frankies457

A photo posted by John B. Paterson IV (@jburnspatersoniv) on

The back patio at Rose's (Park Slope, Brooklyn)

It's on a busy part of Flatbush Avenue, so you might not know that there is an outdoor oasis in back. Great for kids if you can handle watching someone else eat Rose's amazing grilled cheese. —Michael Hoffman

The backyard at Spuyten Duyvil (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

Late afternoon on a Saturday, it's usually not too crowded and so perfectly shaded and lovely for enjoying a glass of wine or craft beer and a cheese plate/charcuterie board. —Meghan Murray

The roof at Alma (Columbia Street Waterfront, Brooklyn)

Just hard enough to get to and discreet from the street, this Mexican restaurant's rooftop has Manhattan views you'd never expect. The cheese dip complements. —me

Perfect night for margaritas. #almarastauran#mexicanfood #rooftop

A photo posted by Alma Restaurant (@alma_restaurant) on

Green Patches

Parks, community gardens, unclaimed corners, and even cemeteries.

6BC Community Garden (East Village, Manhattan)

A tiny, beautiful, beautifully maintained community garden on 6th Street between avenues B and C (hence its name, 6BC). It really feels like a secret garden. It is very very quiet and still and tucked away and you would never know it's there. It's very grove-y. Would highly recommend getting an ice cream cone and going to eat it inside the trees. —Caroline Lange

The garden at Noguchi Museum (Astoria, Queens)

It's very peaceful—very zen. —Kristina Wasserman

A whole new meaning to "uptown"

A photo posted by Amanda (@mandasims) on

Valentino Pier (Red Hook, Brooklyn)

Grass, sun, views of the Statue of Liberty and downtown Manhattan. Buy a Key lime pie from Steve's, eat it while sitting on a picnic blanket, try to read but take a nap instead. —Josh Cohen

Inwood Hill Park (Inwood, Manhattan)

Once you enter, the city disappears behind the trees and you immediately feel like you've been transported up the Hudson. It's a perfect instant getaway with sprawling views of the river (and just steps from the A train!). —Kristina Wasserman

Grand Ferry Park (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

I've been visiting the Grand Street waterfront in Williamsburg since I moved there 12 years ago... There wasn't even a bench; we would mosey on over there and sit on the rocks at the water's edge... Even now, though, with lots of people and businesses nearby, and a more developed nature, the park still plays the quiet, less-developed little sibling of its much more visible Williamsburg waterfront park neighbors, and retains its somewhat "hidden alcove" feel. —Jojo Feld

The Garden at St. Luke's (West Village, Manhattan)

Perfect for lunch or just a respite for reading midday. —Sam Weiss-Hills

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Pelham Bay Park (at the end of the IRT #6 and easily reached) has it all: hiking, bicycling and bridle trails, coastline waterfront areas, nature and wildlife habitats, playgrounds, athletic fields, beaches, playgrounds, sensory gardens, fishing areas and so much more. Certainly worth a daytrip to the "country".”
— Franz H.

It is free, always has open benches, and has the most beautiful flowers—no reservation required is an extra bonus for anywhere outside in the West Village. —Kate Kudish

Amster Yard (Midtown East, Manhattan)

When Midtown Manhattan feels like a wall of bodies and concrete, I like to sneak into Amster Yard (on 49th Street and 2nd and 3rd Avenue). I heard about the peaceful courtyard garden from a rambunctious real estate broker (of all people); the 19th-century buildings, most of which have been demolished, were once home to sculptor Isamu Noguchi and fashion designer Norman Norell. —Sarah Jampel

Carl Schurz Park (Upper East Side, Manhattan)

Pack a lunch and spend the day lounging on the grassy hills near Gracie Mansion, or nab a bench along the water and watch the boats go by. —Megan Lang

The backyard at Unnameable Books (Prospect Heights, Brooklyn)

They host readings out there when the weather is nice. Lots of fairy lights. —Natalia Panzer

Watching you watching New York.

A photo posted by @othebloom on

Cobble Hill Park (Cobble Hill, Brooklyn)

Quite a nice spot for some bench time. —Kate Kudish

Pebble Beach at Main Street Park (DUMBO, Brooklyn)

There is a set of stone bleachers you can sit on and take in the city and the bridges (and usually some hilariously gaudy wedding photo shoots!). It's not the most secluded or laid-back, now that the tourists have discovered the magic of Brooklyn Bridge Park, but it's still one of my favorite spots to sit and think and breathe. —Olivia Bloom

Fort Lee Park (Edgewater/Fort Lee, New Jersey)

It's got everything: waterside picnic spots, crazy amazing views of Manhattan (sorry, Brooklyn—I'm partial to our view over here!), and a slew of less-traveled hiking spots in wooded areas, occasionally breaking through from the trees for the aforementioned view. There's even bike-only paths for cycling enthusiasts. —Erin McDowell

#weekend, #eastriver, #brooklyn, #transmitterpark

A photo posted by Sara Goudarzi (@saragood) on

Socrates Sculpture Park (Long Island City, Queens)

It's right on the water where you can see Manhattan, and is in a little alcove so it's really quiet. There's actually a little farm and greenhouse there and they often will let passersby take fresh herbs home. —Jojo Feld

Transmitter Park (Greenpoint, Brooklyn)

With a bottle of rosé from Dandelion Wine and a pizza from Paulie Gee's: My favorite summer night! —Hannah Wilken

What are your favorite secret (or not so secret) outdoor spots in NYC? Give into spring fever in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Linda
  • creamtea
  • ChefJune
  • Franz Helmke
    Franz Helmke
Amanda Sims

Written by: Amanda Sims

Professional trespasser.


Linda April 23, 2016
After a lovely walk along the Hudson River with my dog, I visit one of my favorite casual outdoor eateries -
creamtea April 19, 2016
The Conservatory Garden in Central Park, at about 104th st. And the charming Museum of the City of New York is right across the street.
ChefJune April 19, 2016
Love, love, love the Japanese garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. And the Rose Garden.
Franz H. April 19, 2016
Pelham Bay Park (at the end of the IRT #6 and easily reached) has it all: hiking, bicycling and bridle trails, coastline waterfront areas, nature and wildlife habitats, playgrounds, athletic fields, beaches, playgrounds, sensory gardens, fishing areas and so much more. Certainly worth a daytrip to the "country".