Where to Find Peace and Quiet
Updated: May 15, 2019
Noise is one of New York City’s most prominent features. Tourists often comment on how loud it is, while New Yorkers will use the noise as inspiration to create art. (For example, Leonard Bernstein was inspired by traffic noises when writing West Side Story.) What is surprising is how many places there are within the city escape all the hustle and bustle and just enjoy quiet.
My favorite Botanical Garden in the city is actually the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx! I love to go inside the Haupt Conservatory in the winter and just soak up some warmth and nature. In the summertime, wander the paths outside and be amazed by a plethora of blooms. The Brooklyn Botanical Garden is more well known, and offer stunning Cherry Blossom trees. The Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden is famous for its “Chinese Scholars Garden” which is one of only two classical outdoor Chinese Gardens built in the US, and used no nails or glue in its construction. Any of these three locations will offer you a chance to become one with nature and enjoy some quiet in the city.
If you feel like staying in Manhattan, Central Park offers lots of hidden nooks and crannies. One area I would strongly recommend is the Conservatory Gardens on the North East corner of the park. It consists of three sections - the English, French, and Italian Gardens. Each offer their own unique beauty, and most tourists stay further south in the park so you’ll be able to find peace and beauty. I’ve also found a lot of quiet joy along the Hudson River at Riverside Park.
New York City is inundated with coffee shops. So much so, it baffles me that Starbucks is as successful as it is. (I do love their cake pops.). Some coffee shops in NYC are totally hopping and others are peaceful retreats. One especially peaceful coffee shop of note is Tianti Books, which is dedicated to books and meditation. It is an incredible oasis in the heart of midtown. I am also linking a few of my other favorites.
It sounds totally bizarre that bars would even be an option for a place to find peace and quiet in a bustling city, but surprisingly they are. For example, there is Burp Castle, where the noise is monitored to "low conversation" and the bartenders will not be afraid to shush you should you talk too loudly! Many hotels also have very chill bars where you can sit on a comfy chair, bust out your laptop, get work done, and sip on a cocktail at the same time.
New York City seriously has some of the most gorgeous libraries in the world. If you haven’t checked out the Rose Reading Room in the NYPL’s Schwartzman building, you are seriously missing out! You could spend hours there just soaking in the beauty of the room. Here are some of my favorite library retreats.
HOUSES OF WORSHIP
New York City has over 6000 places of worship, including the largest neo-Gothic Cathedral in North America (St. Patrick’s Cathedral) and the fifth largest Christian Church in the world (the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.). Most have their doors open during the day, and sometimes through the night, and you can sit and soak up the splendor and quiet. You might also get a surprise art exhibit or music concert.
New York City has thousands of museums, and many of them have a vivacious and electric energy. There are a few others that will make you feel as though have have entered another, much more quiet, realm. The Morgan Library and the Frick Collection both used to be the private residences of Manhattan’s elite, and have maintained a lush private grandeur. The Morris Jumel Mansion is another former home and is connected to several Revolutionary War heroes. You can explore inside the old mansion or even take a peaceful stroll through the grounds. The Cloisters will make you feel as though have travelled back in time to medieval Europe and you can complete a visit with a stroll through Fort Tyron Park. The Noguchi Museum is dedicated to the works of Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi and is located just one block from the Socrates Sculpture Park.
Even in the trendiest of areas, you can still find an oasis of quiet. For example, Hudson Yards offers the public 3DEN, where you can purchase a $6 nap pod that is all yours for 30 minutes. SoHo offers the Dreamery by Casper which gives you a 45 minutes nap session, and $25 will get you beverages, pjs, private amenities, and a private space for resting and recharging. Battery Park City offers up North Cove Marina, the Koi Fish Fond, and the Irish Hunger Memorial. Pier 17 is the best place to go if taking beautiful snapshots of the Brooklyn Bridge is your aim. The Brooklyn Heights Promenade will give you surprising respite from the noise of the city while also being treated to gorgeous views of Lower Manhattan.