The 16 Best Waterfalls for Families to Visit In & Near NYC
By Stacey Feintuch and Barbara Russo
Sure, Niagara Falls is a sight to be seen in upstate New York. You do have other options closer to home though. Both New Jersey and NYC boast numerous waterfalls, offering breathtaking views and a welcome respite from the heat.
Most falls sit near hiking trails or in state parks, making them great spots for a fun excursion with the family. See below for our picks of the best places to see these magnificent works of nature.
Waterfalls in Staten Island
There’s a beautiful waterfall in this popular Staten Island park. Families can also take a walk through the park, see amazing wildlife and enjoy amenities including sports fields, dog-friendly areas, fishing and more.
Waterfalls in Brooklyn
Visit the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to experience a breathtaking scene. The garden features artificial hills contoured around a pond, a waterfall, an island, rocks and more.
Waterfalls in Manhattan
As if there isn’t enough beautiful nature to see in Central Park, there are several waterfalls here to check out. Actually, these waterfalls are man-made. Three of the falls are located in the Loch, situated in the Ravine, the stream valley section of the North Woods.
This uptown park features winding paths lined with flowers and trees that lead to a cascading waterfall. Families can also enjoy playgrounds, sports fields and more at this community park.
This Manhattan park is composed of three levels and features an impressive 25-foot-high waterfall constructed from sculpted granite blocks with a mass of falling water. The area features trees, russet brick paving, sunny seating areas, an outdoor cafe and more to provide a tranquil space for all to enjoy.
This memorial honors those who were killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center site, near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon, as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing on February 26, 1993. The memorial’s twin reflecting pools are each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest man-made waterfalls in North America.
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Waterfalls in the Bronx
The Bronx River Greenway features three beautiful waterfalls, each at a different location: River Park (enter at 180 Street and Boston Road); twin falls at Mitsubishi Walk in the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo; and in the New York Botanical Garden near the Stone Mill.
Waterfalls in Westchester
Croton Gorge Park is located at the base of the Croton Dam. It offers amazing views of the dam and spillway.
Waterfalls in Rockland County
Hike a trek leading to the park’s falls and stream. Once you arrive, enjoy the scenic views of nature. Animals you can find here include deer, opossum, rabbits, chipmunks, and lots of birds and snakes.
Waterfalls in New Jersey
This majestic 576-acre preserve located in northern New Jersey offers a diversity of habitats and beautiful vistas. This natural area has amazing waterfalls and is a great spot for hiking, bicycling and enjoying other recreational activities in nature.
Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park offers breathtaking views of scenic waterfalls.
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is located along the middle section of the Delaware River in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Waterfalls are plentiful here.
These natural wonders provide a great place for reflection and to marvel at the power of nature. When visiting the park, you might see lots of local wildlife, including white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, many species of birds…even bears!
Many people don’t realize that Boonton is home to an amazing waterfall. (Years ago, the falls generated power and attracted industry that is now gone). The picturesque spot sits off Main Street in downtown Boonton.
You’ll find a small park, a river, and picnic benches as well as hiking trails along both sides of the river. You’ll encounter a large rock formation that’s fun to climb and offers a great view of the tumbling water.
In the 19th century, this park was a mined iron ore site. Today, it’s a favorite spot for hikers, picnickers, and anglers—and you can see several waterfalls from the high trails. The park boasts rare and endangered plants, wildlife such as deer and fox, and more than 100 bird species.
Tillman Ravine is a unique natural area that sits in Stokes State Forest.
Take in the beauty of the forest, whether you’re at the top of a mountain ridge (the crest of Sunrise Mountain is one of its most frequently visited sites) or exploring Tillman Ravine’s rushing stream and steep cliffs. Several trails are near the ravine, giving you views of various waterfalls.
South Mountain Reservation is 2,100 acres of public land that contains 50 miles of hiking trails. You’ll find hills, rivers, and woodlands, as well as the dramatic and scenic 25-foot Hemlock Falls.
Travel the stone steps to climb to the top of the waterfall and then sit on the benches as you enjoy the beauty. On a clear day, you can even see New York City from the park.