Van Cortlandt Park: The Bronx’s Answer To Central Park


The Bronx is GREEN.  We already know that The Bronx is the greenest of the 5 boroughs with roughly 25% of our land as parks and green spaces and home to 3 of the 10 largest city parks (no, Central Park, you are not the largest).

Van Cortlandt Park, tucked away in the Northwestern corner of The Bronx, is New York City’s 3rd largest park. From over 8 miles of hiking trails, a swimming pool, a lake, America’s first municipal golf course, horse stables and bridle paths, and a 250+ year old mansion, the park packs a lot in 1,146 acres.

As you hike along the old Putnam trail (running along New York Central Railroad’s Old Putnam Line), past Van Cortlandt Lake and Tibbet’s Brook, you feel like you’re no longer in the middle of a large metropolis like New York City. Surrounded by forests on either side of the trail, you get that feeling like you’ve been transported back to simpler times when nature ruled over the city versus skyscrapers of today.

The Parade Ground at Van Cortlandt is equally as impressive as being stuck in the midst of the Croton Woods of the park.  The 66 acre area is a flat expanse of grassy field (more than 4 x the size of Central Park’s largest, Sheep Meadow) and was once home to the Wiechquaeskeck tribe of the Lenape Native Americans.

Atop Vault Hill you can overlook the Parade Ground, The Bronx and the New York City skyline.
Atop Vault Hill you can overlook the Parade Ground, The Bronx and the New York City skyline.

Just north of the Parade Ground you can climb Vault Hill where the Van Cortlandt family was once buried and see what remains of their burial plot.  Behind the old vault you can continue your climb and sit atop the rocky outcrop which provides beautiful views of the Parade Ground with Manhattan’s skyline in the background on a clear day.

Besides all the walking, hiking, and exploring you can do at Van Cortlandt Park, you can also partake in numerous activities held year-round.

Starting tomorrow, Thursday, July 10th, the free Barefoot Dancing Series begins.

The Van Cortlandt Conservancy says:

“Barefoot Dancing is FREE, learn-as-you-go dancing paired with live music from around the world.  Kick off your shoes this summer and come dance onthe lush green lawn of the Van Cortlandt House Museum.  Join in the sharing of this multicultural celebration.  Shoes are optional! 

Barefoot Dancing is from 6-8:30 on the following dates:

July 10  Zlatne Uste (Balkan)

July 17  Caren Calder (West African)

July 24  Lei Pasifika (Tahitian)

Jul 31  Nadia Moussa (Middle Eastern)

August 7  ¡Retumba! (Salsa)”

Barefoot Dancing 2014

Also, let’s not forget that next Tuesday, July 15th, New York Philharmonic Concert In The Park closes out its season at Van Corltandt at 8:00PM and ends with a fireworks show.  The event is free and open to the public.

To get to Van Cortlandt Park:

Directions: Take the #1 subway to 242nd Street.

Enter the park on foot at Broadway & West 246th Street.

Parking is available at Golf House Lot.

Call 718 430-1890 for information and directions or visit for a map.

To check out other Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy Summer programs, click  here.  Take advantage of our fun, free activities!
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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.