Bryant Park – A Picturesque Retreat
Tucked behind the New York Public Library in the shadow of the Manhattan skyscrapers is beautiful Bryant Park, one of the most popular spots in the city for New York locals. With its lush tree-lined green lawns and colorful gardens, this urban park provides a picturesque retreat from the busy streets of midtown Manhattan.
Bryant Park is just the place for taking a well-deserved break while visiting the many tourist attractions in Midtown Manhattan. This welcomed patch of green space is a true urban park, bordered on every side by towering buildings.
Free Activities at Bryant Park
Looking for a free yoga class in New York? Yoga lovers and Tai Chi enthusiasts should check out the calendar of free fitness classes available at Bryant Park, which are suitable for all ages and experience levels. Mats are provided for the yoga classes which are led by expert yoga instructors. The Tai Chi classes are taught by the Tai Chi Chuan Center.
The park also offers free dance and movement classes- a great way to stretch your arms and legs after a day hunched behind a desk. Free fencing classes are also available; you don’t need to have any experience and they provide the equipment. There are free Ping-Pong tables at the park and free lessons in Pétanque, the French game in which players throw metal balls.
In the winter months, you can skate for free at Bryant Park pond, the only free ice skating rink in New York City. Skate rentals are available and the park often hosts skating shows.
A Free Public Space
A park since the mid-19th century, Bryant Park is named after the New York Evening Post editor and Romantic poet William Cullen Bryant. Spanning four acres, the park features tables and chairs for lunching and people-watching, an outdoor reading room, a carousel for kids, and a venue for free shows and concerts. Bryant Park even offers free Wi-Fi and electrical outlets.
Dining & Shopping at Bryant Park
Rooftop dining is available at the Bryant Park Grill, which is located behind the library on the park’s Upper Terrace. The seasonal outdoor Bryant Park Cafe offers light fare, as do Tom Colicchio’s ‘wichcraft kiosks located throughout the park.
Vendors in the park sell everything from silver jewelry to funky baby onesies, and the seasonal Holiday Shops at Bryant Park on the Upper Terrace are a popular shopping destination during the Christmas season.
Summer Movie Nights
The summer film festival makes Bryant Park a very popular destination every Monday at dusk. Moviegoers snag a spot on the lawn, sit back and prepare to enjoy an outdoor film. The movies presented span a broad range of genres; past screenings have included Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Dog Day Afternoon, Bride of Frankenstein, Annie Hall, and more.
Chess & Backgammon in Bryant Park
Bryant Park is a very popular setting for film and TV productions, and the area where people sit at tables hunched over a game of chess is a scene you are likely familiar with from movies and television shows. The Chess Area is set up with chess, backgammon, checkers, and Scrabble boards which anyone can play for a small fee.
Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is Manhattan’s winter wonderland. Enjoy the Holiday Shops, a pop-up rink-side food hall, and The Rink, a 17,000-square-foot ice skating facility, the centerpiece of Winter Village and NYC’s only FREE-admission ice skating rink!
The Winter Village holiday market features food and artisanal boutiques offering delicious eats and exquisite gifts. The European-inspired open-air market hosts artisans from New York City and around the world. Located along Bryant Park’s allées, plazas, and terraces, the Holiday Shops are housed in custom-designed kiosks.
The Holiday Shops are open from November to early January, and The Rink is open from late October to March.
Just When You Were Looking for a Place to Sit Down…
The park is in a very convenient location, right behind the New York Public Library and almost centered between Times Square, the Empire State Building, Grand Central Terminal, and Rockefeller Center. It’s also close to the many popular department stores of Midtown.
It can also be the perfect place to get out your map and plot your next move while lounging comfortably in a chair or sprawled out on the grass of course.
Lunch with the Locals
The lawn in the middle of the park is as long as a football field.
On sunny weekdays, thousands of office dwellers spill out from the nearby buildings to get a little fresh air during their lunch break. Tables and chairs are set up seemingly everywhere to accommodate the large crowd.
There are several eateries inside the park (check out the Bryant Park Grill, Southwest Porch, or ‘witchcraft) and others on the streets bordering the park. So pick up your lunch, stake out your table, and dine like a Manhattanite!
Location and Directions
The park is on the block between 40th and 42nd Streets and between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. It is behind the New York Public Library.
To get there, take the F, V, B, or D train to 42nd Street.
Address: behind the New York Public Library, New York, NY
Click here to visit Bryant Park website.
Other New York City Parks: