If you are taking a trip to New York City and plan to spend most of your time in Manhattan, you absolutely must take advantage of the parks located throughout this borough.  In Manhattan alone there are hundreds of parks and publics spaces scattered throughout that offer great views of the city, excellent people watching and entertaining activities.  Because the city covers so much area and can feel overwhelming to the uninitiated, here is a guide for first time visitors to three of the best parks in Manhattan.

Central Park

This is the biggest and most well-known park in Manhattan.  Even if you’ve never visited New York City, you have heard of Central Park and have probably seen pictures or movie scenes that were filmed within its 36.6 million square feet of space.  If you are looking for a relaxing experience, take a stroll around the Pond, located in the south east corner of the park close to Fifth Avenue and 59th Street.  This is a beautiful area that can feel so tranquil you almost forget you are in the "city that never sleeps".  For a romantic spot, visit the Bethesda Fountain where you can sit back and watch people in row boats on the Lake.

Bethesda Fountain

Battery Park

Battery Park is the southern-most park in Manhattan.  Situated right on the water, this park has plenty of grass covered open space to relax on after a long day walking and touring.  Battery Park also provides the best views of the Statue of Liberty you can get short of visiting Liberty Island itself.  Grab a bench or a patch of grass and contemplate Lady Liberty and all her majesty.

Battery Park

Bryant Park

Situated directly behind the main branch of the New York Public Library, Bryant Park is located square in the middle of midtown Manhattan.  This park is great for both summer and winter activities.  During the months of June to August, a large movie screen is installed in the park and classic movies are played there on Monday nights.  Get yourself a picnic dinner, some wine and enjoy.  Word of caution: get there early to ensure a good spot on the lawn.  If your visit brings you to New York in the winter, Bryant Park becomes home to one of the largest ice skating rinks in the city.  This rink offers the same great experience of skating surrounded by New York City but with more space and shorter lines than the rink at Rockefeller Center.

Bryant Park Ice Skating Rink