Gantry Plaza State Park is a locals‘ paradise in NYC. It’s an oasis of a park that spans a huge chunk of Long Island City’s shoreline. People come here to relax, to propose, to celebrate. And it’s because this park has just about everything you could ask for – it’s easy to get to, has tons of seating, beautiful landscaping, and great views of NYC, the sunset and Manhattanhenge. To top it off, it’s surrounded by great breweries and restaurants. I HIGHLY recommend making the quick trip to Gantry for a relaxing, beautiful day any time of the year. You need a reason to go? Here’s 7.
1. Gorgeous landscaping with tons of seating
The city/state spends a lot of money every year on landscaping at Gantry. They’re really not messing around at making this place aesthetically appealing. I love coming here just to see what the new season’s flowers or plants are. In the southern side of the park, it’s like you’re walking through wheat fields in the middle of the city.
When you get tired of walking, there’s no shortage of seats. It’s the best thing about this park. No matter how crowded it has been in the last seven years we’ve been going to this park, there has *always* been somewhere to sit. There’s lots and lots of planned seating – chairs and picnic tables – as well as grassy areas to hunker down on. You won’t sacrifice the view of the skyline from any seat in the house.
2. Great views of Manhattan
Of course you come to the park for the seating and relaxation, but you stay for the views! From Gantry, you can see all the way to One World Trade up through midtown with easy sight of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings, through the eastern side of Manhattan and Roosevelt Island. It’s hard not to get mesmerized by the views. I love watching the city from here because you can’t see the hustle and you can’t hear the bustle. You just see the artfully crafted skyline.
3. Ridiculously easy to get to
Gantry is so easy to get to I can’t believe more people don’t completely overrun the place. There are multiple subway lines that get you close enough to walk to the park: the 7 (vernon-jackson), G (hunters point), E (court square), M (court square), and F (21st St). The N and R aren’t bad alternatives if they’re what you got. You can always transfer to the 7 for a shorter walk off the subway.
But an even better way to get to the park is to take MTA’s ferry. It’s the same cost as the subway – $2.75 – and you get the river ride along Manhattan/Brooklyn (depending on where you’re coming from). There’s also food and drinks on the ferry to keep you going. It’s my absolute preferred way to get around.
Plus, you get a full shot of the old Pepsi-Cola sign at the park!
FYI this sign’s reflection looks pretty cool at night, too.
4. July 4th fireworks
Every July 4th brings hundreds of spectators to Gantry for obvious reasons. The city lets off its fireworks DIRECTLY OFF the park! From the park, you watch the four sets of fireworks explode over Manhattan’s skyline. Full disclosure, I could see this from my apartment, so I rarely actually went to the park, but if you don’t mind the crowds, I’ve heard the view up close is even better than from an apt window.
5. Tons of breweries and restaurants
One wonderful thing about Gantry and LIC is its close proximity to delicious breweries and restaurants. Whether you go before, after or during your time at Gantry, you have your pick. Some of our favorite breweries are Rockaway and Fifth Hammer. As for restaurants, we love Casa Enrique, Cafe Henri and Blend. There’s also food trucks galore, and a food stand that sells beer! (The bathrooms are near here, too, so the convenience can’t be beat.)
6. Beautiful sunsets
The views of Manhattan from LIC are wonderful by themselves, but when you catch them at sunset, they can take your breath away! The sun sits behind the buildings or glitters off them just right all throughout the year, casting shadows and colors towards Queens. If you’re looking for a romantic walk along the water at sunset, there’s really no better place in NYC. I have spent many, many sunsets here just soaking in the calm that comes over the city.
7. Incredible views of Manhattanhenge
Speaking of sunsets, there’s a particular type of sunset NYC is known for — Manhattanhenge. Manhattanhenge is when the setting sun perfectly lines up with the largest through streets (east-west). It’s a beautiful phenomenon you can see while you’re in Manhattan on one of these streets, or, for a perfect zoomed out view, you can come to Gantry and have your fill! Plan accordingly, though, as the sunset version happens only twice a year: once in May and once in July. But don’t worry if you’re a little off, it’s hard to tell on the surrounding nights that you’re not *perfectly* aligned.
You won’t regret adding Gantry to your NYC list of must-sees. If you’re looking for other spots/events to put on your NYC itinerary, check out some of my NYC posts here.
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