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Hidden Parks And Gardens Make For Fun Escape From City's Hustle Bustle

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Wednesday was the summer solstice, marking the official first day of summer. With more daylight and warmer temperatures, people are spending more time outdoors.

CBS2's Elise Finch looked into a few hidden parks and gardens that make for nice outings and day trips.

Between rooftop gardens, secluded waterfalls, and amazing views, there are plenty of things you can enjoy in the city this summer if you know where to go.

Hundreds of people who work in the Financial District know about a little hidden secret downtown -- the Elevated Acre.

Located at 55 Water Street, it's a full acre of park land with benches and tables to eat or read, great views of the East River, and lush landscaping over 30 feet above the street below.

"There's not necessarily so many places to have space and nature so it's really nice to have this especially right next to our workplace for lunch," Erica Harrell from Sunnyside, Queens said. "It's a really good way to chill out and get a break."

"It's really just a place to sit," Upper East Side resident Farhan Husain said. "There's a nice breeze going, you've got the water right there, a great view, and a little bit of greenery."

Twenty feet above West 97th Street, you'll find Lotus Garden. The 7,000 square foot community garden is on top of a parking garage. On Sunday afternoons, the gardeners and volunteers who maintain the flowers, koi ponds, and peach trees open the gates to the public.

"We stumble upon them quite often as we're going on walks so it's really quite amazing to see how many gardens and things are available," Upper West Side resident Sandra Chippas said.

Her kids get a kick out of it too.

"It's good to continue spreading more green everywhere and making it open to everyone," 8-year-old Ana said.

Just off Dykman Street in northern Manhattan and steps away from the busy Harlem River Drive sits Sherman Creek Park. The former dumping ground now houses manicured walkways, a series of ponds, children's garden, and a restored boathouse.

In most of these hidden gems, you can still hear the city's sounds. But what you see might make you think you're miles away from the Big Apple.

"It's just a very unique little oasis that you find here in New York City," Brooklyn resident Duke Yun said.

If you're looking for the big picture on New York City, head to Staten Island. The oldest Catholic church in the borough -- St. Peter's on Marks Street -- has a great view of New York Harbor and Manhattan's skyline.

They've opened the grounds on both sides of the church so people and their pets can enjoy the view too.

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