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!

The Lotus Garden
Look, up in the sky! It’s a garage! It’s a roof! No, it’s a community garden that's located on the roof of a garage on West 97th Street between Broadway and West End Avenue. Open to the public every Sunday afternoon from April through November, between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm, The Lotus Garden is 1/6th of an acre floating above 97th Street, complete with flowers, fruit trees and even a fish pond!  A Halloween party is scheduled for October 26, and a group Clean Up and Bulb Planting Event will happen on November 16. While the looming buildings on nearly every side make it impossible to forget you are still, in fact, in the middle of a crowded city, they do create shade so that, even on the hottest days, you can find a bit of respite. The ultimate urban trade off!

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