Explore New York City’s Peaceful Parks

by Country Inns & Suites
Thursday, February 25, 2010

New York City is more than just bright lights and noise. Manhattan’s serene city parks offer a dose of nature and culture in the heart of the Big Apple. From relaxing in Central Park to watching performances in Washington Square Park, there are activities to please any traveler.  By Callie YoungI spent a day recently in New York City, eager to explore a different, quieter side of bustling Manhattan. I ventured out from Grand Central Station into a warm October morning, not knowing what to expect. My senses adjusted to the sights and sounds while a sea of sidewalk traffic carried me up Fifth Avenue. This was a city on the move, and it was exhilarating to feel the undercurrent of energy resonating throughout the crowds of tireless New Yorkers and visitors like myself.

I made my way to the venerable urban respite of Central Park, where skaters, joggers, pedestrians and pooches were out in full force, ambling along the well-worn, leaf-strewn paths. Mothers and children were frolicking, students reading, lovers cuddling. In the quiet enclave of Strawberry Fields, I stopped at the sprawling Imagine mosaic and contemplated all the possibilities that the city had to offer.

Washington Square Park was busy, too—chess devotees with furrowed brows planned their moves amidst rowdy street performers playing to the bohemian crowd of NYU students and denizens of Greenwich Village. At dusk I watched a performance of Antigone in the basin of the park fountain, emptied for the season. Nearby, a guitarist strumming popular tunes competed for the crowd’s attention. Somehow, the ancient Greek drama and the 21st-century music blended seamlessly, along with everything else going on in the park. After the play, not ready to leave yet, I noshed on falafel from Mamoun’s on MacDougal Street and strolled through this lively corner of the Village.

I found myself amazed at the end of that first day by all I had witnessed—in the city that never sleeps I found tranquility in New York’s parks and a warm welcome from Manhattan’s diverse residents. New Yorkers have been hardened by tragedy, but the spirit of the city and those who call it home are as worthy a sight to see as its many famous landmarks.