1.Carl Schurz Park: This Upper East Side gem, hidden along the East River, may just be your new sweet-spot. It's a dog-friendly, glowing green, 15-acre space completely perfect for a day of reading, sunbathing, and picnicking. Once you've satisfied your hunger, gather some peeps for a walk by the river—along the way you can sneak a peak at some NYC attractions like Gracie Mansion and the Roosevelt Island Lighthouse.
East End Avenue (at 86th Street); 212-459-4455
2. Narrows Botanical Garden: If you need a reason to fall in love with Brooklyn, this is totally it. Since '95, this botanist's wet dream has been home to a bountiful collection of blossoms, butterflies, and lilies that will have you feeling as though you've just hopped a plane to Monet's Garden in Giverny. Did we mention it's one of the largest community gardens in NYC?
Shore Road (between Bay Ridge Avenue and 72nd Street); 718-748-0708
3. Roy Wilkins Recreation Center: Truly unlike any other park we've seen. Named after the former NAACP president and civil rights leader, this Queens spot is perfect for park-goers who are looking for more than just a place to lie out. A visit to Roy Wilkins means a day of culture, sports, and good-eats—not only is there an eye-catching 425-seat theater with its own performing group, but there is also a four-acre vegetable garden and an indoor pool.
Baisley Boulevard (at 177th Street); Queens; 718-276-8686
4. Willowbrook Park: Although to some it seems like Staten Island is in a completely different galaxy, we've found a really good reason to hop the ferry. Enter this planter's paradise, a unique, 164-acre landscape with six hiking trails and New York's one-and-only public archery field. After hitting the bulls-eye, you can join the kiddies on the "Carousel for All Children", a one-of-a-kind merry-go-round with 51 hand-carved, wooden animals.
Eaton Place (off Richmond Avenue); 718-698-2186