With skyscrapers shooting up in all directions and colorful characters coming around every corner, New York is a city that happens on its sidewalks. While they may seem like the best (or only) place to stop and look around, these narrow strips of pavement also serve as express lanes for the millions of locals hustling to and from work and errands.
To avoid getting jostled this way and that, visitors can sidestep into one of the city’s many serene parks and gardens. Each one offers the same fantastic views without any of the insistent foot traffic. They are a particularly nice place to dawdle now that winter temperatures are slowly moving out of town.
After learning to roll your own sushi, head west to Washington Square Park. Its landmark carved marble arch was built in the late 1800s and towers over a large, shallow fountain that attracts poets, songbirds and NYU students. The clacking of chess pieces can be heard in the corners, where checkerboards invite anyone to a game. A former potter’s field (an early communal burial ground), the square is also supposedly quite haunted.
Walk off brunch (and all those cocktails) by strolling over to Madison Square Park. The lawns and benches here offer views of one of the city’s most famous structures, the Flatiron Building, which cuts boldly through three lanes of traffic. Running along the east side of the park is the Metropolitan Life North Building, a mammoth, sturdy Art Deco landmark that would’ve been 100 stories tall if funding hadn’t dried out during the Great Depression and chopped it down to 30 floors. Next to it is a slender clocktower that at night reflects dazzlingly in the all-glass-clad condo building nearby.
Not only do guests get a great rate when checking in to this hotel, but they are also near several scenic parks. Walk south to the tip of the island to Battery Park, with its stunning panoramic views of New York Harbor, including Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Tickets to both attractions can be bought at Castle Clinton, a 19th century fort that defended early settlers. The park also has the tormented remains of The Sphere, a sculpture that sat on the original World Trade Center plaza.
Head north from the hotel to City Hall Park, home of its namesake government building as well as a Federal-style courthouse. Many other civic agencies are housed in the open arms of the Manhattan Municipal Building, a broad building on the park’s east side designed by legendary architects McKim Mead & White. The subway station entrance here is particularly impressive, with its tall tiled arches. West of the park is the Woolworth Building, an early-1900s neo-Gothic tower that was once the tallest building in the world.
Step outside from this Midtown hotel and head east, all the way east to Tudor City. This multi-block apartment complex was built in the 1920s but assumes a centuries-old English Tudor style. The structures, combined with the area’s remarkably hushed environment, certainly seem transported in from a quieter, more elegant era. A garden in the middle of the plaza is the perfect place to lunch or read. Just to the west soars the silvery spires of the Chrysler Building, and one block east rises the minimalist bulk of the United Nations Headquarters.
Or avoid landlocked crowds altogether with this luxurious Hudson River dinner cruise deal. The boat launches from either the Manhattan or New Jersey side of the river, and both journeys offer unlimited portions of skyline views and close encounters with landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge.