New York City is a city like no other. There are so many impressive sights, buildings and events, sometimes you don’t know where to look first. Apart from the well-known places there are also plenty of beautiful and lesser-known spots where you can escape the hectic and busy parts of the city and make you forget all about the noisy NYC life. You don't even have to travel far to find these little oases! Discover my 5 tips for escaping the city within the city.
5 x Silvie Bonne's favourites in New York
Silvie Bonne Photographer & author of NYC Guide for Instagrammers
Silvie Bonne is a Belgian photographer, currently living in New York with her husband and teenage son. She used to live in Hell’s Kitchen, quite a rough-and-tumble neighborhood, and now lives in Long Island City, Queens. Every day, Silvie explores the concrete jungle, armed with her Nikon and her iPhone. And every day the city manages to surprise her over and over again. Silvie wrote the book NYC Guide for Instagrammers, a guide with 100 suggestions for impressive or special Instagrammable spots in New York City. She also organizes NYC Photo Shoot Walks, photo shoots in the city's most photogenic neighborhoods. Check out Silvie's blog or follow her on Instagram and Facebook. Photo by Maria J. Hackett.
1) The Brooklyn Bridge Park
The Brooklyn Bridge Park is a 2 kilometer long waterfront park on the shore of the East River. The park has spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline and 6 piers with wonderful features. Every pier has its own character: Pier 1 is the one with the ferry and the ice-cream factory. Pier 2 has a roller skating rink, basketball courts, fitness equipment, swing sets, and so much more fun stuff! On Saturdays there's also free kayaking. Pier 3 has a magical exploratory labyrinth and a large green lawn. Pier 4 is a little, idyllic beach. Pier 5 has sports fields and a large picnic area. Pier 6 has a water playground and a pizzeria with a lovely rooftop bar, where you can enjoy a perfect sunset.
2) Governors Island
Governors Island was the first landing place of the first settlers in New Amsterdam and is regarded as the birthplace of New York. Since its opening to the public in 2005, Governors Island has become a favorite summer spot for many New Yorkers. The island is only half a mile (800 meters) away from Manhattan and it only takes a few minutes to get there by ferry from Downtown New York. Nevertheless, it feels as if you've stepped into a different world. The phenomenal views of the skyline and the Statue of Liberty remind you that you are indeed still in NYC. The large 172-acre park is car-free and perfect for exploring by bike or on foot. There is a summer ice-skating rink, there are play-fountains to cool off, there a lovely Hammock Grove to relax and there are always experimental exhibitions and lots of cool events to discover.
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3) Gantry Plaza State Park & Hunters Point South Park
Gantry Plaza State Park & Hunters Point South Park are just one subway stop away from Grand Central (Manhattan). Nevertheless, it feels like a different world here. No car horns or sirens, but a 12-acre (4.9 hectares) riverside oasis that offers spectacular views of Manhattan’s skyline. You can see the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, and the United Nations Building at a glance from here. Originally, the park was a dock facility for cargo ships. Some of the industrial elements have been incorporated in the park’s design. Every pier was given a new use. There is a pier with loungers, a pier with picnic tables and a pier with a long table which the fishermen use. The two large transfer bridges have also been preserved. They were once used for loading and unloading ships and train cars. Now, these large black ‘gates’ have become the symbol of Long Island City. The iconic Pepsi sign and the LIC Ferry Landing are the perfect spots to watch the impressive ‘Manhattanhenge’, or just a beautiful sunset on every other day.
4) Socrates Sculpture Park
Socrates Sculpture Park is a special place on the shore of the East River in Astoria, with a view of Roosevelt Island and the Upper East Side Skyline. Until 1986 the park was an illegal dumping ground, until an artist’s collective, led by the sculptor Mark di Severo, transformed it into an open studio and exhibition space for artists and a community park for the locals. Nowadays Socrates Sculpture Park is a unique outdoor museum with outstanding sculptures. The permanent team puts together various exhibitions every year. To date, over 1,000 artists have exhibited their work in the park, in a laidback bohemian ambiance. In the summertime, the park also hosts (free) weekly cultural events and activities. The park is open 365 days a year.
5) Greenacre Park
The Greenacre Park is one of the more than 500 P.O.P.S. (Privately Owned Public Space) in NYC. This peaceful little park lies hidden away on 51st Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenue, in the middle of crazy Midtown. This small oasis has an enchanting waterfall, and the sound of the water falling down fades away the sounds of the loud and busy city. Greenacre Park was designed by Hideo Sasaki and has received awards for its exceptional concept and design. This little gateway offers a magical escape for residents and a wonderful lunch spot for people who work in the neighborhood.
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