New York City, NY
Find a rare slice of woodland quiet in the original big-city park.
Central Park is the country’s most popular urban green space, with about 25 million annual visitors (for comparison, that’s almost three times more than the most popular national park). But even in the heart of Manhattan you can find a spot that feels like wilderness (all things considered). Kate Sheleg, of the Central Park Conservancy, says the secret slice of wild is in the North Woods section. Enter the park at The Pool entrance, at Central Park West and 102nd Street. Head north on West Drive to the North Woods, and wander at will on unmarked paths (stop at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center–110th between 5th and Lenox–to pick up an area map). The 90-acre hideaway harbors several waterfalls, including one 14-footer, all hidden in a dense stand of black cherry, American beech, oak, and maple trees. The wildflower meadow in the stream-fed Ravine, with aster, jewelweed, and woodland goldenrod, has the most diverse collection of flora in the city. centralparknyc.org