I’m still on vacation in South America, and I had this grand plan to bring you a list of Brooklyn’s best parks to tide you over until I return. But then I checked out the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, in the hopes of finding a short, digestible list of parks in Brooklyn. But it turns out, between neighborhood green areas, playgrounds, etc., Brooklyn has over 200 parks. Way too many for me to research and consider while I’m supposed to be off the grid.
So I’m going to take an easier route. Much like I look at people with incredulity when they tell me they still haven’t made it to the top of the Empire State Building, here are the Brooklyn Parks You Really Shouldn’t Skip, plus a few personal favorites.
This is the massive no-brainer. Comprising over 585 acres, the park contains a zoo, Audubon center, ice rink, band shell, carousel, and athletic/recreational facilities. The park also houses the bulk of Brooklyn’s remaining indigenous forest, and receives over eight million visitors a year.
BROOKLYN BOTANIC GARDEN
Located adjacent to Prospect Park, Brooklyn Botanic Garden is 52 acres containing over 10,000 different plant species from around the world. Through May 11, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is celebrating the flowering of the cherry blossoms, as they do each spring.
I’ve written about this park before. Still under construction, the future 85-acre park will stretch for over a mile along the East River from the Manhattan Bridge to Atlantic Avenue. Once completed, the park will contain lawns, recreation, beaches, restored wildlife habitats, and playgrounds. There are also plans for floating pathways (somewhat controversial as they may affect fish mating areas by casting shadows), fishing piers, and places where residents can let boats down into the water. Even though these plans are not yet complete, the park already has a great playground, beautiful grassy areas, new benches, and a boardwalk with views of the Statue of Liberty.
CADMAN PLAZA PARK
This park was just renovated last year, and despite some local opposition to Astro Turf being used in some areas instead of more fragile grass, the park is as beautiful and welcoming as ever. This one is a personal favorite of mine, since it is only two blocks from home and does a lot to liven up an area of Brooklyn that doesn’t necessarily cater to its residents after the courts shut down. The pathways have been re-paved, there are new benches and plantings, and there are even a few “wild flower beds” that the city just allows to grow as nature intended.
FORT GREENE PARK
This is another one of my favorite parks, mostly because it is within walking distance from my apartment/on the B52 bus route. There are always events going on, and the general tone of the park is very low-key. It’s a good one for bringing a blanket and a book and not talking to anyone for an afternoon. Also, I once watch a hawk dismember a mouse here. I didn’t realize what was happening until mouse fur started floating down from the upper branches….
Anyway, check back next week when I’m back in town and my Brooklyn musings are sure to contain some South American flavor!