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Northeast City Park Guide

What to see and do in city parks throughout the Northeast.

central park

Sheep Meadow, Central Park, NYC.

With tons of activities and sites to see throughout the year, there’s so much to discover at our local city parks. Whether you are into hiking, biking or camping, or simply want to scope out the perfect spot for your next picnic, use this guide to map out your day and explore these magnificent urban green spaces.

Note: Due to the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, please check official websites before visiting to check for restrictions or closures.

New York

Central Park

The most famous NYC park, this 843-acre urban oasis and social hub has plenty of activities for visitors – from picnicking and nature watching to horse and carriage rides, bike rentals and boating on the lake. Or you can simply sunbathe or lounge out with a book on one of the park’s many fields.

AAA members can save at the Central Park Zoo and on tickets purchased in advance for Central Park Sunset Tours.

Riverside Park

This New York City city spot boasts amazing views of the Hudson River. All members of your group are sure to have a good time, given the park’s barbecue areas, basketball courts, baseball fields, historic buildings, dog-friendly areas, stately trees, family-friendly playgrounds and – of course – great waterfront views.

Plan the perfect New York City day trip, borough-by-borough, with our online guide

Buffalo Harbor State Park

The first state park in Buffalo overlooks Lake Erie. The park is great for watersports like boating and fishing thanks to its 1,100 slip marina, boat launches, personal watercraft launches and fish cleaning station. There’s also a restaurant, a playground for the kids, three pavilions and a strip of beach fit for strolls and sunbathing.

Highland Park

Get ready to explore hills, valleys, groves and gardens at this park and conservancy in Rochester. Home to beautiful botanical collections – including a world-class arboretum, over 1,200 lilac shrubs, 35 varieties of magnolias and more – Highland Park is a must-see for nature enthusiasts.

Onondaga Lake Park

Located west of Syracuse, Onondaga Lake Park is an 8-mile linear greenway with loads to offer. Visitors will find dog and skate parks, walking trails, a playground – with courts for shuffleboard, bocce and volleyball – and it’s all set against gorgeous waterfront views.

Massachusetts

Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

The Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park is home to 34 islands and peninsulas. It’s located only a few minutes from downtown Boston – just take a ferry ride! Once you’re there, enjoy terrific views of the harbor while bird-watching, hiking, picnicking and exploring a historic fort. Camping facilities are currently closed due to COVID-19.

Boston Common and Boston Public Garden

Here’s a bit of a two-for-one: Boston Common is a public park located in downtown Boston dating back to 1634, making it the oldest city park in the U.S. Right across the street is the Boston Public Garden, the first public botanical garden in America and home to the famed swan boats, 40 notable trees and Victorian blooms and splendor galore.

deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum

Just 20 miles outside of Boston is the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. This 30-acre park in Lincoln features over 60 large-scale outdoor sculptures and site-specific installations that change throughout the year.

AAA members can get $2 off regular adult admission.

Green Hill Park

This multiuse, 480-acre public park is Worcester’s largest. Its mix of open space and woodlands – including an arboretum and two ponds – is great for nature-lovers. Meanwhile, the golf course, football, softball and soccer fields, playgrounds, skatepark and zoo with farm animals are perfect for visitors looking for something to do.

Elm Park

Elm Park is a 58-acre historic public park located in Worcester where visitors can enjoy wooded nature trails, lighted basketball and tennis courts, monuments, a playground and picnic area, and ponds that make for great ice skating in the winter.

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Rhode Island

Roger Williams Park

Visitors will enjoy a plethora of recreational activities at this Providence park named after the state’s founder. Amenities include a zoo, bike path, ball fields, botanical garden, tennis courts, waterways for boating, walking paths and a playground. Sites to see around the park include eight pieces of art and architecture, over 5,000 trees and the Williams family cemetery.

AAA members can get $10 off select Roger Williams Park Zoo memberships.

India Point Park

Paths for walking and biking, playgrounds for the kids and 18 acres of sprawling lawns make India Point Park a breath of fresh air in Providence. Nice proximity to the water – in the form of a 3,600-foot shoreline – makes for great waterfront views.

Brenton Point State Park

At this 89-acre park in Newport – a favorite of kite-flyers – visitors can enjoy beautiful views of Narragansett Bay as well as bird-watching, fishing, hiking and picnicking. If you look closely, you can see the ruins of the once-grand Bells estate tucked away beyond security fencing.

city park

Lighthouse Point Park, New Haven, Conn.

Connecticut

Elizabeth Park and Rose Garden

This 100+ acre state park in Hartford is also on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s home to beautiful formal garden – including 50 varieties of roses, 212 rose beds and 75 rose arches – along with green space, recreational facilities and plenty of walking loops to stroll. Visitors will also find refreshments at the Pond House Cafe.

Scalzi Park

The largest recreational area in Stamford, Scalzi Park has plenty to offer visitors. This includes ample green space and facilities for baseball, basketball, tennis and volleyball along with walking, running and hiking trails, plus space for skateboarding and inline skating.

Lighthouse Point Park

This city park in New Haven boasts gorgeous ocean views and the Five Mile Point Lighthouse, which was first built in 1847. Swimming is great in the summer, and there are also restrooms, a bathhouse and boat launch. Other amenities include the Lighthouse Park Carousel, harbor and pagoda pavilions, a splash pad for kiddos and concessions in the summer.

New Jersey

Lincoln Park

There’s plenty of fun to be had at this Jersey City park. Sport-lovers will enjoy the basketball, handball and tennis courts, baseball/softball diamonds, football and soccer fields, running track and cross-country course. For family-friendly fun, there’s a horseshoe pit, two children’s playgrounds and a spray pool area in the summer. Those looking for leisure can hit the nature trails, uses the barbecue areas or bring a pup to the enclosed dog run.

Liberty State Park

This 1,212-acre park boasts great views of Ellis Island, the Manhattan skyline and Statue of Liberty – which you can also take a ferry to. Other park features include the 2-mile Liberty Walk, which links to the picnic area, interpretive center and the historic Central Railroad of New Jersey terminal.

Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park

Paterson was America’s first planned industrial city, and the Great Falls of the Passaic River are at its heart. Visitors can view the 70-foot-high falls, take a stroll and look out for wildlife.

Branch Brook Park

The nation’s first county park, Branch Brook Park is located in Newark. Nature-enthusiasts will enjoy the park’s collection of cherry blossom trees – the largest of its kind in the U.S. Other amenities include ball fields, basketball, bocce and tennis courts, horseshoes and a playground. The park is also listed on the New Jersey and national registers of historic places.

New Hampshire

White Park

This 20-acre public park is located in Concord. Visitors have plenty of amenities to enjoy, including a baseball field, basketball court, soccer field, playground equipment, a seasonal pool and groomed walking trails. In the winter, there’s also ice skating and a great sledding hill.

Livingston Park

Located in Manchester, Livingston Park has something for everyone. There’s a running track, baseball diamond, soccer field, a swimming pool with water features and two separate playgrounds for children of different age groups. The nearby Dorr’s Pond has its own walking trail and is a prime spot for fishing in the spring and ice skating in the winter.

Mine Falls Park

This 325-acre park in the heart of Nashua is bordered by the Nashua River and the Millpond and canal system. The park’s forest, wetlands and open fields make for great passive recreation opportunities – like biking, boating, cross-country skiing, fishing and walking. The park trails were designated as part of the New Hampshire Heritage Trail system.

Greeley Park

This city park in Nashua occupies 125 acres extending from the Merrimack River. Amenities include baseball/softball fields, tennis courts, picnic areas, horseshoe pits, a playground, boat ramp, wading pool and walking/hiking trails. Greeley Park is Nashua’s largest inner-city park as well as a historical site.

Want even more places to see? Check out historic LGBTQ sites, the most stunning scenic locations and botanical gardens in the Northeast.

What’s your favorite city park? Tell us in the comments.

Comments
  • John B.

    Though I appreciate the locations listed under Rhode Island, it is disappointing that Slater Park in Pawtucket was not mentioned. The amenities far surpass India Point Park that appeared.
    Besides having one of the oldest carousels in the world, there are picnic sites, a working animal farm, disc golf that is free to the public, hiking along the Ten Mile River, a dog park, basketball and tennis courts along with beautiful acres of open space.

    Reply
    • Dana L.

      Hi John!
      Growing up in Rumford, I have such fond memories of Slater Park! My friend played softball games there, I took my daughter to the petting zoo and playground when she was little, and I’ve biked the Ten Mile River bike path. So beautiful!
      Thanks for reading!
      -Dana L.

      Reply
      • Dana L.

        Oh, and of course, I can’t forget visiting Fanny as a kid! 😉

        Reply
  • Sandie B.

    In New York City we have Prospect Park in Brooklyn and there are great parks in all the boroughs so more should have been mentioned for NYC.

    Reply
    • Dana L.

      Hi Sandie!

      We just featured Prospect Park and many other open spaces in our Best of Summertime in NYC guide. There are so many beautiful parks and open spaces in the city I had no idea existed!
      Thanks for reading!
      -Dana L.

      Reply
  • Benjamin H.

    I am surprised to not see Forest Park in Springfield, MA on this list. With 735 acres of mixed open and wooded space, there is something for everybody. A wonderful small zoo, playing fields, rose garden, aquatic garden, numerous picnic sites, basketball, tennis, bocce, and the nations first public swimming pool! Dr. Seuss’ grandfather was the zookeeper and it’s also the inspiration of many of his famous books. Forest Park is one of the great gems of municipal parks and I am shocked to see it missing from this list.

    Reply
    • Patricia G.

      Totally agree with your statements. Forest Park is a gem and it’s unfortunate that It was not mentioned. Especially since it’s Bright Nights display is nationally known.

      Reply
  • You also missed beautiful Franklin Park in Boston, Golf course, Zoo, and plenty of walking and picnic areas.

    Reply
  • LYNNE M.

    I’m surprised you don’t list Van Saun Park in Bergen County under New Jersey.

    Reply
  • Chris M.

    For NYC I would have included the newbies – the Highline, and Little Island. These truly are special – everyone pretty much already knows Central Park. Then again, these newer ones are already hugely popular, so no need to promote them into overcrowdedness I guess!

    Reply

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