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Exploring Green Spaces of NYC


Learn about the hidden gems, exciting events, and volunteer opportunities at six of our favorite and most beautiful parks and gardens in New York City.

New York City is more than a concrete jungle – it’s home to more than 29,000 acres of green space across 1,942 sites. It’s impossible to go far without stumbling across a park or garden, and we’re featuring six locations here: Bronx River, Caramoor, CityParks, Governors Island, Riverside Park, Van Cortlandt Park, and Wave Hill. They’re sharing some of the exciting events and features to enjoy this spring and summer, including some exclusive insider tips! Read on to discover these spaces and plan your next adventure in New York City!

The Bronx River​

Contributor: Alyssa Perez, Communications and Development Assistant

At the Bronx River Alliance, great strides are being made to promote community advocacy and stewardship right here in the Bronx. A major testament to our work was the opening of Starlight Park Phase II in 2023 that created new pedestrian bridges, added to the existing Bronx River Greenway, and incorporated stormwater retention features into the development. This all-new connection brought communities together! In addition, our continued efforts in rain garden maintenance speaks to the prevalent flooding issues NYC experiences during wet weather events.

For a unique experience, you can canoe the Bronx River during programming season, visit the ONLY edible food garden at Concrete Plant Park’s Foodway, and cycle continuously through on the Bronx River Greenway. You can also join us at major events like Open House on April 20th, Our Amazing Bronx River Flotilla on May 4th, and so many volunteer opportunities for an experience unlike any other in the Bronx! Find us at bronxriver.org or @bronx_river on Instagram!


Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah, NY just announced the 79th Summer Season and tickets are now on sale! The concert season is from June 9 – August 16, and features a wide variety of genres throughout the summer. What makes Caramoor different from all other venues? The non-profit organization sits on 80 acres of grounds, which lends itself to having four very distinct outdoor venues. You could potentially go to four concerts at Caramoor and have four entirely different concert experiences!

Concert highlights include a Music & Meditation series that’s located in the lush and butterfly-filled Sunken Garden, world-renowned stars in the Venetian Theater such as Sutton Foster, Rhiannon Giddens, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, and so many more. The Spanish Courtyard provides a serene experience where you can sit among the stars in a very intimate venue which is perfect for chamber music, and sit back and relax (or dance!) on Friends Field during the popular Concert on the Lawn series where picnicking is encouraged – check out the Great Performances Concessions Tent for some great bites!

Don’t forget to check out their all-day American Roots and Jazz Festivals, which is a great way to see all the corners of Caramoor while listening to multiple musicians in one day. Plus, check out their calendar for free concerts and the Concerts for Little Ones series that is geared for ages 2–6.

Here’s a tip! For most Caramoor summer concerts, there is a free shuttle that goes back and forth between the Katonah Metro-North train station and the venue. This means you can take the hour-long train ride from NYC, and easily get to Caramoor and back to the train!

Caramoor is the perfect place to experience live music while being in the beautiful outdoors!

We’re gearing up for our busiest season at City Parks Foundation, as the weather warms up and New Yorkers start coming back to their local parks. In celebration of Earth Day, we’re excited to share what we’ll be working on across the city.

Our CityParks Play team will be hosting free sports instruction across all five boroughs for both kids and seniors, with everything from tennis to tai chi on offer right in your neighborhood park. At CityParks Learn, we’ll be going into the classroom and hosting park field trips to teach kids about biodiversity and the role that our parks play in mitigating climate change.

Our programs wouldn’t be possible without parks that are well cared for – if you’re interested in giving back to your community, check out our wide range of It’s My Park beautification and service projects coming up this Earth Day (and every day!). Come together with your community to make a difference right in your neighborhood.

Then, bring the whole family to enjoy a show at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater, which is currently featuring the high-flying tale of a cow who joins the circus in Bessie’s Big Shot. It’s a perfect family-friendly activity, with showings Thursday-Sunday in Central Park.

And of course, we will soon announce a new season of SummerStage, coming to you from May to October in parks across New York City. Already we’ve announced several stellar benefit shows in Central Park, from new “jazz-trap-alt” artist Masego to Irish legends The Saw Doctors, and our entire season of free concerts will follow later this month. Sign up for our membership program today so you can enjoy perks at concerts, including skipping the line and watching the show as a  VIP. As always, you can also enjoy delicious food right in Central Park thanks to our partnership with Great Performances– so be sure to come hungry.

See you in the parks!

Contributor: The Trust for Governors Island

From free arts and culture to climate solutions demonstrations from NYC’s most innovative small businesses to large scale concerts with powerhouse headliners, there is something for everyone at Governors Island—now open 365 days a year. The summer season will feature 20+ food and beverage vendors, a packed calendar of free events, a unique collection of arts and cultural programming, monthly nature walks, free walking tours, volunteer opportunities, and, of course, some of the city’s most unique outdoor recreation, including 7 miles of car-free bike paths, urban hiking in our award winning, climate resilient park, and the longest slide in NYC.

Don’t miss our incredible collection of public art, presented through Governors Island Arts—the Trust’s arts and culture program. The Island is home to long term and tem¬po¬rary works from mul¬ti¬dis¬ci¬pli¬nary artists that interact with and respond to Gov¬er¬nors Island’s park and his¬toric landscapes. We also have a large cohort of Organizations in Residence presenting free exhibits, artist residencies, and events every weekend from May through November in the Island’s historic former military houses.

We have a ton of new resources on our website to help visitors connect with our green space—head to the Governors Island Nature tab under “About” to see what plants are currently in season (and where to find them), explore an interactive map of the Island’s 3,500+ trees, and learn about each of our natural areas and the ecological horticultural projects that help them thrive.

Governors Island offers a unique opportunity for organizations and event producers to reach new audiences in an unforgettable setting. At the Trust for Governors Island, we work with cultural, educational and commercial organizations to host independent festivals, concerts, outdoor exhibitions, performances, screenings, workshops, and more.

Contributor: Alison Ettinger-DeLong, Communications Manager at Riverside Park Conservancy

2024 is an exciting year for Riverside Park Conservancy! Working in partnership with NYC Parks, the Conservancy cares for five Manhattan parks: Riverside Park, Riverside Park South, Sakura Park, West Harlem Piers Park, and the shoreline portion of Fort Washington Park up to 181st Street. Comprising nearly 400 acres of public parkland, the area is enjoyed by millions of people each year and provides critical habitat for birds and other wildlife. The Conservancy is committed to building a more sustainable Park – from climate resiliency to environmental justice to financial stability.

We recommend exploring the Park’s pollinator meadows and gardens, which provide valuable habitat for bees, butterflies, and other pollinator populations. Our 119th Street Pollinator Meadow is a hidden gem; to reach it, follow the path behind the nearby 119th Street Tennis Courts, and you’ll reach an expansive, hidden meadow filled with tall flowers and grasses.

This year, the Conservancy is expanding our popular Summer on the Hudson public programming, with many new events in the northern section of our park. The brand-new array of events uptown complements the Conservancy’s increased focus on volunteer activities, landscape stewardship, park equity and community partnerships. Uptown parkgoers can now enjoy movie screenings by the Hudson River waterfront each Thursday in August as well as a Black Birders Week birding walk hosted in partnership with NYC Audubon. Returning events uptown include Fort Washington Park’s beloved Little Red Lighthouse Festival and World Fish Migration Day, and last year’s inaugural Sunset Yoga series at the 145th Street Lawn.

NYC Parks welcomes a variety of permitted events in the Park, including birthday parties, weddings, and other celebrations.

Exciting things happening in Van Cortlandt Park this spring and early summer:

  • Volunteer with us, as we gear up for spring, planting lots of new trees and shrubs. Upcoming volunteer events are listed on the Van Cortlandt Park Alliance calendar here.
  • From April 26-29, Van Cortlandt Park Alliance will participate in the City Nature Challenge, a global contest or “bio blitz” between cities to find and document wildlife on iNaturalist. Any picture, video, or recorded sound of plants, animals, or evidence of life counts as a submission! Van Cortlandt Park had the most wildlife observations of any NYC park two years ago! Details on a public event for this challenge coming soon!
  • Van Cortlandt Park is a great place to explore the history of NYC with sites like the Grand Central Stones and the Van Cortlandt House Museum
  • Cultural events, like our annual Pinkster Festival on Saturday, May 4, connect visitors to the park’s history through live music, crafts, and food.
  • On Tuesday, June 11, the New York Philharmonic plays its annual free concert on Van Cortlandt Park’s Parade Ground. With dazzling fireworks at the end of the evening, it’s our favorite way to kick off summer!

Event Suggestions:

  • Hike in Van Cortlandt Park – the best way to escape the sights and sounds of the city, accessible via subway! Full list of trails here
  • Summertime is the best time to picnic in the park!

Note that any event in the park of 20 people or more requires a Special Events permit, which must be applied for at least 30 days in advance. More info at the link here.

Contributor: Jess Brey, Senior Horticultural Interpreter at Wave Hill

My favorite view at Wave Hill is from the Secret Garden. An enclosed hillside surrounded by hedges and specimen trees and shrubs offers intimacy with a view. The plantscaping directs attention towards a “garden window”, a break in the plants, to enjoy the best view. Overlooking the nearby Conservatory and Flower Garden, the view spans out towards sweeping lawns and the distant Hudson River and New Jersey Palisades. Many times, there will be some Wave Hill chairs positioned in the Secret Garden offering a seated view from underneath the sweeping arms of an old blue Atlas cedar. Many miss this garden area on their visit as it is a “secret”, however I think it is one of the must stops at Wave Hill during late spring into early autumn. You can even watch Sunset Wednesday concerts from here!