Downtown's Great Outdoors

As cities go, New York makes excellent use of the urban oasis. Central Park’s Great Lawn is iconic, as are the winding paths in Riverside Park, the arch in Washington Square, and the summer installations that take over the roof of the Met. But what about green spaces not listed in guide books, reminders of nature that go beyond the expected? This season, take advantage of the city’s quieter mood and explore these pockets of calm off the well-beaten path.

Sasaki Garden | The Roxy Hotel
Sasaki Garden

If you’re craving a quiet, contemplative moment, this beautifully designed, almost hidden community garden is open to the public. Tucked away within Washington Square Village, the Sasaki Garden has been courting a spot on the National Register of Historic Places for years – and it’s easy to see why. This hideaway is especially stunning in spring, when the cherry trees are in bloom. Washington Square Place, between West Third & Bleecker Streets, and between La Guardia Place & Mercer Street

Garden Of Stones | The Roxy Hotel
Garden of Stones

Sculptor Andy Goldsworthy’s first American commission, the Garden of Stones, is a living memorial to the Holocaust, with trees growing from meticulously arranged stone. The space, part of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park, conjures reflection and contemplation amidst the bustle of downtown Manhattan. The effect of time on humans and nature is palpable here, as the sculpture will be viewed and cared for by future generations to come. 36 Battery Place, at 1st Place

Hudson River Park | The Roxy Hotel
Hudson River Park

If you’re feeling active, Hudson River Park, mirroring its namesake river from Battery Park through Tribeca, the West Village, and Chelsea to points north in midtown Manhattan, offers plenty of sporty options: running and bike paths, soccer fields, baseball diamonds, and proximity to Chelsea Piers and its swimming pools, driving ranges, and climbing walls. With public art installations, dog runs, and playgrounds scattered throughout, this stretch of West Side waterfront has something for anyone on an active kick – and if not, you can simply take in the view. West Side Highway, from Battery Park to 59th Street

The High Line 2 | The Roxy Hotel
The High Line

This elevated walkway has become an essential artery of downtown energy. The linear park continues to draw crowds – extra points if you can snag one of the coveted, reclining lounge chairs to soak up some rays. True to its roots in the well-heeled, gallery-rich Chelsea neighborhood, the High Line plays host to rotating art installations throughout the summer. Food and drink offerings from People’s Pops, Brooklyn Soda Works, and La Sonrisa promise a smorgasbord of local treats. From Gansevoort to West 34th Streets, between 10th & 11th Avenues

Elizabeth Street Garden | The Roxy Hotel
Elizabeth Street Garden

A beloved community institution, the Elizabeth Street Garden recalls Roman ruins, providing an eclectic sanctuary where Soho meets Nolita. The sculpture garden occupies coveted space between Mott and Elizabeth streets, giving a bit of respite and beauty to a tightly packed, perennially popular part of the city. Grab an iced coffee, a good book, and a patch of sun to lounge in for an ideal (lazy) downtown afternoon. Elizabeth Street, between Spring & Prince Streets


Words by Francesca Giacco