zenYC: How to Escape the Hustle and Bustle

As amazing and exciting as New York City is in the summer, sometimes the congested subway cars during rush hour and smells of trash baking in the sun can get to us - we’ve all been there. Every once in awhile, it’s good to get away from the insanity - the noisy streets, the stuffy train stations, the over-heated fifth floor walk-up apartment you spend far too much time in - and clear your head. This week, we’re exploring the great outdoors (beyond our favorite backyard patio bars), taking a stroll, and breathing in some fresh air. Here’s a hand-picked list of our favorite spots that’ll help you get away from it all.

1) Pratt Sculpture Park | Clinton Hill

Step one: go to Dough (305 Franklin Ave) and treat yourself to an amazing specialty doughnut. Step two: walk a few blocks to Pratt’s sculpture park. Step three: relax. Don’t think that you can’t enjoy it because it isn’t your alma mater - this gorgeous garden provides some easy access to a quiet afternoon. 

2) Storm King Arts Center | New Windsor

If you're really trying to get away from the city for the day, Storm King Arts Center is the place to go. Wander aimlessly in the park’s 500-acre maze of sculptures, or check out the event calendar to see what’s going on each week. Sometimes you’ll even stumble upon a live music performance in the South Field.

3) Brooklyn Bridge Park picnic tables | Brooklyn Heights

When the going gets tough, the tough get to the water. You’re lying to yourself if you say that soaking in the views of the waterfront doesn’t put you at ease. So how about on your way home tonight, grab a cup of coffee from Cranberry’s, find a good book, and head to the picnic tables under the bridge. 

4) The Cloisters | Washington Heights

When was the last time you went all the way to the top of Manhattan? The Cloisters at Fort Tryon Park are most definitely one of New York City’s best kept secrets. Part extension of the Met, part hotspot for gorgeous views of the Hudson, the Cloisters offer the perfect environment for relaxing and gettin’ a little cultured. Make the trip uptown before the end of the summer, for sure.

5) Prospect Park Cleft Ridge | Park Slope

One of our favorite places in one of our favorite places, the Cleft Ridge not only offers a great spot to catch a breeze, read a book, or people watch - it’s also one of our favorite live music venues in NYC. At any given time, find exceptional artists such as Brooklyn’s Olive Juice creating graceful melodies to harmonize with the park’s peaceful vibes. Stay for one song or stay all afternoon - but make sure you throw them a couple bucks on your way out.

6) Noguchi Museum Courtyard | Long Island City

Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi designed this museum out of a 1920’s industrial building. The open-air courtyard is a special highlight - and an excellent intimate space to relax and reflect. $10 gets you in the door of the museum (closed Mondays + Tuesdays), which is a work of art in itself - go check it out!

7) Central Park’s Turtle Pond | Manhattan

Just north of the 79th St transverse smack in the middle of the City’s largest park is its most relaxing spot. A designated quiet zone restored in 1998, Turtle Pond provides great relief from its noisy surroundings and a small yet satisfying snapshot of nature & wildlife.

7) Astoria Park | Astoria

Astoria Park has pretty much any kind of relaxation you could ask for. It boasts a beautiful if a little water is all you need. Or you could run yourself into a trance on the track, follow the numerous trails towards no particular destination, or just sit on the benches beside the East River overlooking a beautiful view.

8) New York Botanical Gardens | Bronx Park

The Bronx may not be the most convenient stop for you, but this extensive botanical garden is worth the trek. The New York Botanical Gardens is the perfect place to escape from the busy noise of the city into the seclusion of foliage of this quiet Bronx park. For further incentive, grounds admission is free all day on Wednesdays and from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturdays.

9) Teardrop Park | Battery Park

If you’re in Battery Park when your bustle-meter overflows, you don’t have to worry. Right in the midst of those tall buildings and fast-walkers lies this gem of a park - a beautiful view of the city from a detached and peaceful oasis. The eye of the storm, if you will.

10) Pier view of the Hudson | West St

Downtown by West St? Cross the highway and head over to the river at Houston St. Walk a few yards past the entrance to the soccer fields at Pier 40 and you’ll find an entrance to a boating dock on your left - walk down it! The view will speak for itself.