New York is huge, fast-paced, exciting and glamorous, but sometimes, it’s just too much. When pushing a stroller down streets packed with movers and shakers while you inhale that only-in-NYC patented aroma of rotting garbage sprinkled with canine urine has you dreaming of the burbs, take comfort in an escape that only those-in-the-know can find – community gardens.

These urban oases are hidden throughout the city, often in the most unexpected – but desperately – needed places. Check out some of our favorites below. You might discover a spot of serenity right in your own neighborhood. Or even one worthy of venturing further!

First Street Green
Once upon a time, 33 East 1st Street was a dilapidated lot with a very big rat problem. Community members got together, wrote letters, attended meetings, made noise. And now it’s an Art Park. Democracy in action! The goal was to create a venue for cultural and educational events involving all of the arts. So far, it has featured the BMW Guggenheim Lab for inspiring innovative ideas about urban life, workshops on DIY Furniture, urban planning (with LEGOs!), the Doors Project (nothing to do with Jim Morrison, this involved actual doors), and the Make Music New York Festival. They're currently on the hung for ideas and volunteers to paint the park's mural.

Do you have a favorite pastoral spot to get away from it all in NYC? With the kids or – shh, don’t tell anyone! – without them? Let us know!  

— Alina Adams