Elizabeth Street Garden

When it comes to green spaces in New York, you might immediately think of Central Park or Prospect Park, with their lush lawns and expansive views. But there are other green gems tucked away within the folds of the city, perfect for slipping away from the bustle of New York for a few minutes (or hours). Best of all, most of these gorgeous spaces are free to visit.

These spots combine the relaxed atmosphere of large parks with the coziness of small communities, and feel far away from the activity of city life, even though as exist within it. From secret rooftop terraces to waterfront oases and lively community gardens, here are some of the best secluded urban green spaces in New York City.  

1. Lotus Garden on the Upper West Side

Lotus Garden

Once upon a time this plot was merely a condominium garage roof, but now it’s a thriving community garden. Lotus Garden, on the Upper West Side’s 97th street, between Broadway and West End Avenues, is one of New York’s first green roofs, and has tall shrubbery, fruit trees, a green wall, flowers, two goldfish ponds, and views of the colorful townhouses across the street.

In the late 1980’s, community organizers joined to form a committee whose goal was to create a tranquil green space out of an unused roof. Thirty years later, the 1/6th of an acre garden is flourishing thanks to its community members, whose $20/year membership fees help maintain the gardens and plots.

Though it is accessible 24/7 to members, it is open to the public every Sunday from 1-4 PM