If you haven't heard of Wave Hill, it's a beautiful 28 acre retreat in the Bronx with views of the Hudson River, gardens and lots of grassy space to lay out and relax.
There are a couple of ways to get to Wave Hill - I took the 1 train to 242nd street and biked through residential streets to get there, which takes about 20-30 minutes. The ride is safe and relatively car-less- it involves weaving through the neighborhood of Fieldstone, and crossing the Henry Hudson Parkway via an overpass designed for walkers/bikers. However, the hills in the neighborhood are pretty intense, and my bike is a rusty cruiser from Craigslist that isn't exactly suited for this kind of terrain. If you have Google Maps on your phone, you'll be able to easily figure out how to weave through the neighborhood and cross over the Henry Hudson Parkway (after that, there are signs for Wave Hill.)
I was excited to see some of a Riverdale neighborhood - it's hard to believe that there are homes this big right in NYC (home below):
A little bit of info about Wave Hill - it is an old estate from 1843 that was leased by Theodore Roosevelt as well as Mark Twain. The cost to enter is $8, and as I discovered, once in Wave Hill you cannot actually bike. Therefore, I would probably just recommend taking the Metro-North from Grand Central (a bit quicker) and walking to Wave Hill. I took the train home and it was easy, except I didn't know you need to buy a bike pass (they let me off the hook this time... probably figured with my rusty old bike I didn't know what I was doing.)
The food at the cafe is very good (slightly gourmet sandwiches and salads), and you can eat overlooking the Hudson River. Wave Hill was not crowded- lots of space to lay out and relax in the grass or in Adirondack-type chairs. It was a nice change from parks in NYC which are usually pretty packed with people talking loudly on cell phones.
Some images from Wave Hill:
Where I chilled out, read and slept in peace:
There were lots of beautiful gardens and a few mini trails through the woods (like 10 minute walks) Here's one shot of the pond:
I hope you enjoyed Wave Hill! I'd recommend it when you want an easy escape from the city and a quiet place to read.