Manhattan is often (and rightfully) referred to as the concrete jungle, but only a borough away, in the neighboring Bronx, is the perfect respite from the sidewalks and skyscrapers. The New York Botanical Garden is a 250-acre oasis of gardens and greenery just waiting for you to explore. Located next to the Bronx Zoo, arriving at the wide open spaces of New York Botanical Garden feels like a true escape from the city.
Although it’s unsurprisingly stunning in the spring—think rolling hills of bright yellow daffodils, an esplanade of blooming pink cherry trees, and colorful pockets of purple, red, and orange tulips—the garden offers something for every season. You find sprawling grassy lawns and towering shade trees perfect for summer picnics, a veritable forest of foliage dramatically changing color in the fall, and an enclosed greenhouse overflowing with tropical orchids in the winter.
With more than a million living plants, there’s a type of flora to pique the interest of any visitor—even if you don’t consider yourself much of a plant person. And the heart of the garden is an sprawling old-growth forest of American beeches, cherry, oak, birch, and white ash trees. It’s the largest existing remnant of the original forest that covered all of New York before settlers arrived from Europe in the 17th century. It feels more like you’re in the middle of a national park than a mere subway ride from the heart of Manhattan.
In addition to being a worthwhile attraction for tourists and city dwellers alike, the New York Botanical Garden is home to an educational institution for underserved student populations and urban science teachers, a plant research facility, and a state-of-the-art conservation program. There’s also a nursery and garden store on site if your budding green thumb is inspired by the verdant surroundings, as well as an upscale cafe with al fresco dining options. There are so many sides to this public garden that you’ll want to make a day of it with the all-garden pass.