Storm King Art Center, Orange County, NY
A quick drive or train ride from New York City, Storm King, in New Windsor, New York, offers 500 acres of rolling meadows dotted with dozens of sculptures by some of the biggest names in contemporary art. Social-distancing is not a problem there.
Go ahead and walk off that manic, caged-tiger energy, and relax knowing that you're not responsible for mowing this place.
New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY
I highly recommend the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and New York Botanical Garden to anyone, any time of year, under almost any circumstances. I'm highlighting the NYBG, in the Bronx, which is especially near to my heart because it's where I first interned when I moved to NYC.
The native plant garden is one of the newer areas with a lovely central water feature. It's often the site of interesting art exhibits and frogspawn, if you're into that.
Atlanta Botanical Garden, Atlanta, GA
For those in or near Atlanta, my new hometown, the Atlanta Botanical Garden has a variety of gardens and exhibitions to enjoy safely. Over the years, they've acquired a number of Dale Chihuly sculptures and thoughtfully incorporated them into the gardens. I especially love this orange, obelisk-like piece at the head of a reflecting pool.
One of my favorite elements is the canopy walk, above, which guides you through different layers of a forest that skirts the edge of the gardens. The live wall, below, is stunning in all seasons.
Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn, NY
While I love Central Park and Prospect Park deeply, I'm recommending Brooklyn Bridge Park for a staycation day of fun.
The park is truly innovative. Water elements and fountains, native wildflower meadows, forest habitats with integrated play-spaces, sports courts, and grassy knolls — it's all there, and it continues to evolve every year.
The view of Manhattan it offers is not bad, either.