8. Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Queens

Home to one of the most important bird sanctuaries in the northeastern United States and the only wildlife refuge in the national park system, the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is a great place for birdwatchers as well as nature lovers. It contains several natural habitats like salt marshes, upland fields, an extensive bay, and fresh and brackish water ponds, which allow all kinds of reptiles, amphibians, mammals, horseshoe crabs and even 60 species of butterflies to inhabit it. Like the Bronx River, it’s also a great place for kayaking.

Because of its importance, you need walking permits (which are free) to hike the trails. You can take the A train or Q53 and Q21 buses to get to this wildlife gem.