In Peaceful Places, New York City Evelyn Kanter explores “129 Tranquil Sites in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island” and throws in a bonus section of four peaceful day trips outside of the city. The sites are listed alphabetically, but cross-indexed by neighborhood and category.
There are many categories include Enchanting Walks, Museums & Galleries, Parks & Gardens, Quiet Tables, and Spiritual Enclaves. Decent maps help pinpoint locations and Kanter gives directions to get to every place on public transportation.
Kanter is a travel writer and photographer with an active lifestyle, which shows in her choices of peaceful sites. She tends to favor hiking trails and open spaces to reading rooms or quiet chapels. For this reason, the book is as of much use to residents looking to discover the hidden corners as to visitors looking for a respite from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple. Her descriptions of “2,800 acres of forests, meadows, ponds, hills, and valleys” or “dunes and beach grass creat[ing] the only canvas” are enough to entice explorers to Staten Island or Queens, but probably not a visitor looking to cram the most into a weekend.
Out-of-towners may prefer her tips on finding garden atriums and “vest pocket” parks hidden between the skyscrapers of Midtown. Or her short but convincing list of places for quiet cocktails. If even these oases fail to sooth city-jangled nerves, there’s always the option of becoming “temporarily vegetative in total relaxed bliss” with a YeloNap at the Yelo Spa.
Peaceful Places is an inspiration anyone planning a visit to New York, and a must-have book for any New Yorkers looking for adventure in the farther reaches of their grand city.
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If Peaceful Places, New York City appeals to you, you may also like Secret New York: The Unique Guidebook to New York's Hidden Sites, Sounds, & Tastes, which was published in 1999 but is still my favorite NYC guidebook; Romantic New York City: A Guide to the Most Romantic Clubs, Restaurants, Bars and Hotels in New York City, which is even more out of date but still inspires; and Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell (reviewed here), which will never be out of date and may be the best book about New York ever.