Visitors to NYC might have the idea that it's all towering skyscrapers, steel and concrete, a sunless labyrinth crowded by hustling, bustling mobs of everybody. That's true, in some places, especially in Manhattan. But it's wholly wrong in others.
Fort Tryon Park is a prime example. Located in the northwestern corner of Manhattan, the park is a quiet, peaceful, charming retreat from the madding crowd. Built by Frederick Law Olmstead Jr. (whose father built Central Park), it offers easy, paved pathways for strolling, fine views of the Hudson River, well-tended gardens, natural beauty, and fine picturesque features (occasional benches, lampposts, etc. ). Best of all, it's free.
Now, let's be honest: most out-of-towners who venture to this far corner of Manhattan will be en route to The Cloisters, that magnificent branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art which is located within the grounds of Fort Tryon Park. If you are one planning such a visit, I do not blame you one bit. But I suggest you add an hour or two, to simply enjoy these settings. It's as well-groomed and well-kept as its better-known uncle, but much less crowded, more personal and reflective and peaceful. In a word, it's beautiful. When I visited, in late summer, the air was alive with birdsong, the bushes laughed with the scampering of squirrels, grand trees proclaimed their supremacy over granite boulders, and the adjoining Hudson River plodded along, ignoring history and everything in it. Fort Tryon Park itself is a grand destination.
The park is pet-friendly, and all the pet owners I saw were pet-friendly too: all dogs were leashed and closely tended, and I saw no canine leavings on the lawns. I did see some untended housecats, possibly domestics gone feral.
There are some (surprisingly secluded) activity venues within the park. Glancing over a rock outcropping, I spied a volleyball court hidden in the woods below. Other facilities may be hidden elsewhere. Finding them will be much like exploring in the woods. The park also features puzzling non-historical markers. "Abby's Lawn," one says. Who was Abby? What had she to do with this lawn? Nothing is there to inform you. It's a mystery.
There is one restaurant located within the park grounds, the New Leaf. I did not stop there and can say nothing of its worthiness. It has its own website.
I would recommend Fort Tryon Park to anyone who was planning to visit The Cloisters, located within. I would suggest adding at least an hour or two to your plans, simply to enjoy the park. For those arriving by subway, disregard the instructions to walk up Margaret Corbin Drive, and walk through the park instead. It's well worth the extra couple of minutes. For visitors lodging near George Washington Bridge, this wonderful oasis is practically on your doorstep, and parking is available.
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