Arts and CultureNew York

Get Your Frolic On: Nature Spots in NYC

Updated: Sep 08, 2009 16:09
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Part of New York’s appeal and charm is being the city of neon lights, asphalt and reinforced steel. As much as us city dwellers love our concrete, we do occasionally need to see something green. When your nature craving can’t be cured with a city square made for reading books on a bench, hit up one of these spots for some hard core frolicking.

Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn
It’s difficult to compare Central Park and Prospect Park; I mean the same guy designed them. With waterfalls and streams hidden in trees, Central Park’s Ravine almost feels like a natural wooded area. I even saw a frog there. The buildings around Prospect Park are shorter, so the massive trees easily mask them. Central Park has more awesome statues to climb on, while Prospect Park has more ducks in its ponds. But the important thing is, both parks are full of trees and have lush green grassy areas perfect for playing sports, napping, or general prancing.
The Ravine is located from about 102nd street to 106th street.
Brooklyn Botanical Garden
1000 Washington Ave, Brooklyn
Have you ever seen a carnivorous plant in person? Sundews and Venus flytraps really do look like something that would attack you in Super Mario Brothers. Go see them at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, along with the Japanese garden water lily ponds, blooming magnolia trees, Shakespeare garden, herb garden'it’s a different ecosystem with every step! Your grandma will even love it, and you’ll be surprised with how much you do. The best part? Both Tuesdays and Saturdays are FREE admission days.

Socrates Sculpture Park 32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Queens

Why spend a sunny day inside a museum? The Socrates Sculpture Park is scattered with modern sculptures on grounds of soft grass and fluffy trees, complete with a river view. The park has several artists-in-residence, so the exhibits change frequently. Past sculptures including state fair inspired pieces, boats and billboards. Socrates takes going green one step further than the rest–it was built on the site of an old landfill.

The Bronx Zoo
2300 Southern Blvd, The Bronx
While there is a tragic lack of animal-shaped food at the Bronx Zoo, the diversity of actual animals makes up for it. There’s a mountain of tigers, poison arrow frogs, giraffes, a gorilla forest, three bird enclosures, and a black lit building of nocturnal animals. The place is so huge that you can make it to the end of the park and realize you missed the zebras. Normally, the Bronx Zoo costs $15, but Wednesdays are pay what-you-wish days all year round. A few of the exhibits cost extra money, but running around in a garden full of butterflies was completely worth spending $3. Wanna see some animals, but can’t go on a weekday? Prospect Park Zoo’s admission fee is only seven bucks, and they’ve got kangaroos!

Mannahatta/Manhattan Exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue, exhibit runs through October 12
If you’re longing for the outdoors on a day with bad weather, go check out the Manahatta/Manhattan to see where trees used to grow in the city. The exhibit is a collection of maps and diagrams showing what the island looked like when Henry Hudson first arrived. Not to spoil the exhibit, but trees used to grow freaking everywhere and herds of animals besides rats and pigeons roamed the land. Seeing the map that charts out 'œbeaver distribution' alone is worth going. While the museum isn’t completely free, the donation is just a suggestion.

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Kiley E - Ragamuffin Researcher

Kiley E - Ragamuffin Researcher

After years of denial, Kiley has finally admitted to baring a striking resemblance to Velma from Scooby Doo. Instead of traveling in a van hunting ghosts, she prefers wandering on foot in search of tacos, cheap beer, and fake birds. Growing up in Portland, Kiley enjoyed the balance of urban and green spaces. Then she spent her four years at Ithaca College, and found herself craving more sprawling asphalt in her life. So she moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where most of the buildings look like they're about to collapse. Kiley's favorite activities include: getting lost, crafting, sewing, biking, and geeking out at museums. Her love of taxidermy probably makes her a terrible vegetarian, but she doesn't care.