Harlem Meer i Central Park
Central Park designers Olmsted and Vaux named this man-made water body "the Meer" - Dutch for "lake." It memorialized the former separate village of Harlem that was settled in the 17th Century by European settlers and included the upper regions of Central Park. On the northern shore of the Meer stands the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, a visitor center run by the Central Park Conservancy. The Center hosts free community programs, exhibits, and holiday celebrations including the popular Halloween Pumpkin Sail and winter Holiday Lighting. There's also live music on the plaza in the summer.
Harlem Meer, East Side from 106th to 110th Street, NYC (212-348-4867)
Inwood Hill Park
On the northern tip of Manhattan, a twenty-minute walk from the subway, are the historic Indian Caves of Inwood Hill Park. In a single year, 150 bird species have been spotted in Inwood Hill Park. This is the park where Peter Minuit bought Manhattan for $14.00 (there's even a rock commemorating it)
Inwood Hill, Fort Tryon Park, NYC. (212-927-9568)
Bear Mountain State Park
50 miles north of New York City and nestled along the Hudson River, there's something for everyone. Miles of hiking trails, boating, an ice skating rink, a pool, a zoo, trailside museums, and an inn with all the comforts of home, in the Hudson Valley.
Bear Mountain State Park, at the intersection of the Palisades Parkway and Route 9W. NY. (845-786-2701).
Open 365 days a year from 8 am. to dusk.