Bryant Park is a quiet haven from the city for local residents, office workers, and tourists. Established as a park in the 1800s, Bryant Park has experienced a rocky road; it went through eras of decline in both the 1920s and 1980s. It was revitalized in the 1990s. It was most famously once the site of New York City’s Fashion Week (the event is now held in Lincoln Center). Find out why you should visit, what there is to do and see, and why you might want to skip this famous New York City attraction.
Photographic: There are plenty of photo opportunities here. Situated in the center of Manhattan, Bryant Park is surrounded by beautiful architecture. A bright green lawn gets rolled out in the summer,and a holiday market and Christmas tree take over the park in the winter.
Architectural: The Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Bank of American Building, American Radiator Building and New York Public Library can be seen from the park.
Historic: The park’s origins date back to the 1800s. In 1823, the site was designated as a potter’s field. It was home to both the Croton Reservoir and the Glass Palace. It officially became Bryant Park in 1884 and was named after parks advocate, William Cullen Bryant.
Kid Friendly: There are plenty of kid friendly activities in Bryant Park, including a carousel, reading room, table tennis and table games in the summer. There’s free ice skating in the park in the winter.
Musical: Free concerts are offered on the green all summer long.
Shopping/Fashion: Once the location of New York City’s Fashion Week, the park still gets a few honorable mentions in the spring and fall during this most fashionable time of year.
Foodie: The park has a few kiosks where popular New York City chains (such as Waffles and Dinges and Witchcraft Coffee) set up. The winter holiday market also brings dozens of delectable foods from the end of November through December.
Sporty: You may not find sports like soccer or baseball played in the park, but there are plenty of tabletop games available such as tabletop tennis.
Literary: Bryant Park is home to none other than the New York Public Library. You can visit the library itself or borrow a book from the Bryant Park reading room that parks itself in the park in the spring, summer and fall.
Theatric: Broadway in Bryant Park offers visitors a free taste of some of the hottest shows on Broadway on select days.
Cinematic: Free movies are shown in the park in the summer on select evenings.
Outdoorsy: Bryant Park offers a haven of tranquility for city folk all year long. Both New Yorkers and tourists escape the city for a little R&R by stretching out on the lawn, sitting in a cafe chair or playing a few rounds of table tennis.
Like a Local: Locals take pride in Bryant Park’s community atmosphere. You’ll see local residents and workers from nearby offices relaxing in the park all week long.
Bryant Park is free to visit! Some of the activities cost money, but most are free.
- Food and drink:Costs between $5 and $10
- Movies in the summer: Free
- Broadway in Bryant Park: Free
- Bryant Park music programs: Free
- Tabletop games: Free
- Bryant Park ice skating rink: Free (check website for skate rental prices)
Time Commitment/Time Savers:
Fly-By: 15 minutes to walk through the park and take a break from the city.
In-Depth: 60 minutes to enjoy a snack, play a few games, and read a chapter of a book. Musical performances generally run about 60 minutes as well. Movies run about 90-minutes long.
Need to Know:
- Free movies, concerts and Broadway in Bryant Park are popular; arrive early to get decent seats.
- Games are on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Why You Should Skip:
If you’re visiting New York (especially for the first time), you may want to pop into the park for a few minutes to escape the city and take a few photos; otherwise, there’s so much to do and see in the city that you might want to skip the R&R.
When to Go:
Any time of day is a good time to visit Bryant Park!
How to Get There:
Walking: Head to 42nd St. and 6th Ave. Bryant Park is only a few minutes’ walk from Times Square and Grand Central Terminal.
Subway: Take the B, D, F, M or 7 trains to 42nd Street, Bryant Park. Take the 4, 5, or 6 trains to Grand Central Terminal, and walk a two blocks east along 42nd Street to Bryant Park. Or, take nearly any other train to Times Square and walk one block east along 42nd Street to Bryant Park.
Taxi/Car: Take any taxi or town car, and tell the driver to go to Bryant Park. If they need an address, give them the New York Public Library’s main branch address (42nd St. and 5th Ave.).
Bus: The best way to get to Bryant Park is by subway, but you can also take the M1, M5, M55, or crosstown M42 buses to Bryant Park.
Related Attractions/Other Ways to See:
New York City has plenty of public parks. Most New Yorkers head to any of them when they need a break from the city. You may also want to check out:
- Central Park
- Battery Park
- Washington Square Park
- Tompkins Square Park
- Prospect Park
- Madison Square Park
- Governor’s Island
Need more inspiration on how to focus only on what you love in NYC? Check out a full list of attractions.
Don’t forget to read a few articles on how to hack New York City, so you can see more, do more, and stress less!