Where can I relax in NYC?
April 8, 2008 2:56 PM   Subscribe

Where is your favorite NYC spot to clear your mind?

I've been living in NYC for the past 6 years and I've mostly hung out in the East Village since that's where I live. I've been to places like museums and parks outside of the village, but I'm looking for more 'off the beaten path' destinations. For instance: I like sitting on the benches along the Hudson river path-stuff like that. Any suggestions would be great, but I'm not really looking to spend money.
posted by missjamielynn to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (32 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
You should check out Governors Island!
posted by blaneyphoto at 3:01 PM on April 8, 2008

The Cloisters.
posted by atomly at 3:02 PM on April 8, 2008

The Cloisters.
posted by ericb at 3:03 PM on April 8, 2008

What atomly said!
posted by ericb at 3:03 PM on April 8, 2008

The Cloisters/Fort Tryon Park are great. Also, if you didn't already know, Prospect Park is better than Central Park.

There's a little park by the Hudson at 57th Street, and a stretch of usually mostly deserted riverbank for twenty blocks north or so. I used to go there all the time to smoke, think, be depressed.

If you're willing to dedicate some time, ride the Staten Island Ferry and take one of the top-deck outside seats. The view is especially beautiful at night.

Mostly, though, you have to find yourself a rooftop. There are no better places in New York to clear your mind.
posted by nasreddin at 3:04 PM on April 8, 2008

Take the Metro-North to the village of Cold Spring. Hiking and quaintness awaits!
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:06 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Also, if you have time and money to spare, take the Metro-North to Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow one autumn day. The graveyard is beautiful, calming, creepy, and refreshing at the same time.
posted by nasreddin at 3:07 PM on April 8, 2008

St. Patrick's Cathedral ... though any church usually does it. Just be prepared to clear your mind with a few of your brethren and sistren who are, unfortunately, homeless.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 3:08 PM on April 8, 2008

nthing the cloisters. also, the cathedral of st. john the divine on 112th and amsterdam.

i really enjoy the morgan library, but you will have to pay admission.

i love riverside park. up by 125th street there is a bird sanctuary and grant's tomb, and down in the 70s is the flower garden, but any bench facing the hudson works for me.
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:29 PM on April 8, 2008

I really liked the World's Fair site in Queens. With the Unisphere, and a bunch of really cool statues and lots of open space...it's a fairly long train ride, coupled with a bit of a hike, but i found it worth it.
posted by schyler523 at 3:36 PM on April 8, 2008

Oh, also: the Coney Island boardwalk. During the day, during the off-season.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:41 PM on April 8, 2008

Planeview Park.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 4:03 PM on April 8, 2008

Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. Walk, bicycle, fish, sit, etc., along the waterfront recreation path in Bay Ridge on a sunny day. Ride a subway to the end of the line. Enjoy.
posted by coffeefilter at 4:04 PM on April 8, 2008

Seconding Riverside Park - I spent a lot of time there two weekends ago. It's such an oasis in the city, and there are all kinds of animals and birds, along with nice wooded paths to walk on right south of Grant's Tomb.
posted by gemmy at 4:06 PM on April 8, 2008

Mostly, the Cloisters. Especially on freezing days in winter--keeps the tourists down. Also Fort Tryon Park, where the Cloisters is located.

And most any large church--the most private places in godless NYC.
In (not very particular) St Thomas on 53rd & 5th).

Also, a block north on 54th & 5th, the Hallo Berlin cart for the best German sausage&potatoes a-la-cart dining in NY.

And also the northern (above 72nd street) reaches of Central Park.
posted by hexatron at 4:15 PM on April 8, 2008

The park beside the Fulton Ferry Landing, in DUMBO.

Broad Channel, which is, astonishingly, a tiny seaside town within Queens.

Above all, City Island in the Bronx.

And, as mentioned, Cold Spring-on-Hudson, a short train ride from Grand Central. This has benches beside the Hudson River too, only the Hudson is quite a bit more impressive at that point.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 4:21 PM on April 8, 2008

Juan Valdez coffee shop, 140 East 57th.
Not Starbux.
An oasis.
Clean restrooms, comfy seats, low lights, reasonable prices, superior product.
posted by Dizzy at 4:48 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

The Little Red Light House is charming and off the beaten path. It's also in upper Manhattan, not too far from Fort Tryon Park. My boyfriend and I also spend lots of time on the Columbia campus during the summer (or other times when school is not in session). It's very nearly deserted, lots of lush green lawns, nice architecture, and interesting little hidden away nooks. We've even wandered around in some of the buildings which are often unlocked.
posted by kimdog at 4:48 PM on April 8, 2008

Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens. There is a shuttle bus that stops there.

I also enjoy getting a cocktail at Cipriani's in Grand Central Station. There is something very decadent, languid and thoughtful about sipping a drink while lots of other people run for a train.
posted by brookeb at 4:50 PM on April 8, 2008

The promenade in Brooklyn Heights has an incredible view of the lower Manhattan skyline and a number of benches to just sit and think and feel small (this effect obviously diminished by 9/11, but it's still there). Somewhat off the beaten path (outer borough and all) and long enough that even on warm, gorgeous days that attract a lot of sightseers I can usually find a bench away from most people.

My other answers are "my roof" and "my stoop," neither of which help you much specifically, but in a general sense you might think about.

(Also, I have lived in the city my entire life and never been to the cloisters and now will probably go very soon thanks to this question.)
posted by cosmic osmo at 5:03 PM on April 8, 2008

I might just be weird, but I find the elevated subway lines in Brooklyn (D, F, Q) really relaxing.
posted by equalpants at 5:11 PM on April 8, 2008

Central Park... I can't believe no one's mentioned it. But there are many wonderful places throughout, and even when it's most crowded, you can amazingly still find isolated spots. I love the reservoir, Bethesda fountain, sheep meadow... many wonderful spots.

Also, if you are on the East Side, Carl Schurz park, in the 80's by the river near Gracie Mansion is quite nice.

And, Roosevelt Island. The tram is very cool! [It wasn't running for a while, but I think it's back now].
posted by Maias at 5:14 PM on April 8, 2008

Riding the Staten Island ferry! Especially now that it's starting to warm up you'll soon be able to sit on the outside benches in comfort. Watch the boats coming into the harbor, see the weather patterns moving around the city, get the feeling of city claustrophobia receding. I occasionally make the trip for work and I always enjoy it. It's about 20-25 minutes each way.

I also like to go to Roosevelt Island from time to time. There's a path that runs all the way around the island and you get interesting views of Manhattan and Brooklyn. There's also a cool lighthouse at the north end of the island and a very cool abandoned hospital at the south end. At the very tip of the island you can sit and watch the East River rushing by.
posted by otolith at 6:05 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Wave Hill and the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. The lilac grove at the BBG is stunning in spring, and on cold snowy days, going into the desert room and shedding all your cold weather layers is the happiest feeling ever.
posted by judith at 6:19 PM on April 8, 2008

I really like the Temple of Dendur in the Met.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:29 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Seconding Flushing Meadows Park
posted by saxamo at 6:50 PM on April 8, 2008

Battery Park City Feels sort of isolated. It's nice at night too. Staring at the Jersey Shoreline is relaxing. 2 Train to Chambers n Walk southeast across the West Side Highway. There's also a small Regal Theater nearby thats great for loners and couples.
posted by Student of Man at 7:40 PM on April 8, 2008

Isamu Noguchi Museum
posted by zap rowsdower at 12:30 AM on April 9, 2008

Another for Grant's Tomb (or Riverside Park, generally). It's free to enter and wander, beautiful architecturally, and the bells of Riverside Church are an excellent beat for your thoughts. Also, it's rarely busy (special occasions being the exception. I've come across a stage setup in front, which drew a crowd, but mostly, just the occasional unicyclist or skateboarder, and there's always a place to be solitary (if that's conducive to your relaxing...)
posted by Busithoth at 12:54 AM on April 9, 2008

There's a quiet little cobblestone street in the middle of the very bottom of Manhattan. Near Wall Street. Near a bar that takes its name from the first name of a Civil War figure. I love wandering that street, its always quiet, but you're still in the city.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:59 AM on April 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

The Met on a Friday evening, the Conservatory Garden in Central Park at 105th and 5th, Riverside Park, the fireman's memorial where there's a horse and dog drinking fountain at 100th street across from Riverside Park, the Noguchi museum in Queens, the Brooklyn Bridge walking from west to east, Cipriani in Grand Central from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., the bar at the Carlyle on a late summer afternoon, midtown between 5 and 6 a.m., Governor's Island, Trinity cemetary at 155th and Riverside (where John James Audubon is buried).
posted by thinkpiece at 8:01 AM on April 9, 2008

Just about everyplace I'd suggest has been mentioned but I love Morningside Park in the spring, when the pond just about overflows with turtles. The Harlem Meer in the northeast corner of Central Park is also very relaxing.
posted by JaredSeth at 11:55 AM on April 9, 2008

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