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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.
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.
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!
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
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 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
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
Valentino Pier (Red Hook, Brooklyn)
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
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
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
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)
What are your favorite secret (or not so secret) outdoor spots in NYC? Give into spring fever in the comments.