Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Like its Manhattan counterpart Central Park, Prospect Park in Brooklyn is a spectacular natural respite from hectic New York City. A 3.3-mile-long road, mostly in very good condition, circles near the outside of the park, with separate lanes for pedestrians/joggers, cyclists, and cars. (Cars are allowed in the park only from 7-9 AM on weekdays, but they may soon be eliminated entirely.)
A major advantage of Prospect Park over Central Park is that it is significantly less crowded with tourists and pedestrian traffic especially during the summertime. Early mornings and late afternoons in Prospect Park are particularly delightful. When the weather is lousy, and during the winter, there are times you can have the park almost to yourself. Because of the park’s location at the top of Brooklyn’s Park Slope, it is especially subject to steady breezes and gusts, which create somewhat of a microclimate in the park (usually a few degrees cooler than the surrounding areas.)
There are many attractions in Prospect Park, including a zoo, restaurant, ice rink, carousel, pond for paddleboating, all kinds of bike rentals, birdwatching, and hiking trails. Early on many weekend mornings, Prospect Park hosts running events and road bicycle racing. There is also a Farmers Market every Saturday and Smorgasburg (the largest open-air food festival in the country) every Sunday during the Spring/Summer/Fall.
Getting there: Prospect Park is easily accessible from Manhattan via the B, Q, 2, 3, and 4 subway lines. Travel time by subway is approximately 20 minutes from lower Manhattan.