The Bronx Zoo was a favourite family haunt for us when we lived in New…
When we lived in Westchester County, New York we were only a short drive from the Bronx, where the New York Botanical Gardens are located. It was one of our go-to places for a family day out. We would go there in the spring and summer for the floral displays and in the winter, especially at Christmas when there would be a model railway exhibit in the glasshouse conservatory.
When we travel back to New York nowadays it is one of the places high on our list to visit.
The history of the New York Botanical Gardens …
Established in 1891, The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) is distinguished by the beauty of its landscape, collections, and gardens, and the scope and excellence of its programs in horticulture, education, and science. NYBG was inspired by an 1888 visit that eminent botanists Nathaniel Lord Britton and his wife, Elizabeth, took to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, near London. The Brittons believed New York should have a great botanical garden to advance public understanding of plants, be a repository of rare and valuable specimens, and lead original research in botanical science. Because of its picturesque terrain, freshwater Bronx River, rock-cut gorge, and 50 acres of old-growth forest, the Garden was sited on the northern half of Bronx Park.
Today, the 250-acre Garden—the largest in any city in the United States—is a National Historic Landmark.
NYBG encompasses 50 speciality gardens and collections comprising more than one million plants, the Nolen Greenhouses for Living Collections, and the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, the nation’s preeminent Victorian-style glasshouse.
MITSUBISHI WETLANDS TRAIL
One of our favourite areas in Botanical Gardens is the Wetlands Trail which has areas of swamp, marsh and pond. It feels very natural and less structured than many of the other areas in the Gardens. In the spring and summer it is a blaze of colour with numerous wild flowers in bloom. It is very relaxing to escape this area and away from the crowds.
Close to the Haupt Conservatory, there are a number of areas of the Botanical Gardens that have seasonal plantings in them. This includes the Gossett Plant Trail and the Rosen Seasonal Walk. When we visited in mid-summer these gardens were a blaze of colour. It was delightful to be able to wander in among these plants and flowering bushes and enjoy the colours and the scents.
ENID A HAUPT CONSERVATORY
The highlight of most botanical gardens is the conservatory, and the Enid A Haupt Conservatory at the New York Botanical Gardens is no exception. Constructed by Lord & Burnham Company and completed in 1902, the Haupt Conservatory is considered one of the most superb glasshouses of its time. The palm dome is particularly spectacular. The conservatory is divided into different climate zones, from tropical rainforest to desert, and has galleries featuring aquatic plants and vines, lush tropical rain forests, cactus-filled deserts, and many other natural habitats.
One thing to check out before visiting the New York Botanical Gardens is whether there are any special exhibitions running. Many years back we were lucky enough to catch a Chihuly exhibition. These tend to be large installation exhibitions set among the natural setting of the gardens.
During our last visit to the Botanical Gardens there was a special exhibition; KUSAMA – Cosmic Nature. Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese contemporary artist her style is described in Wikipedia as:
“works primarily in sculpture and installation, but is also active in painting, performance, video art, fashion, poetry, fiction, and other arts. Her work is based on conceptual art and shows some attributes of feminism, minimalism, surrealism, Art Brut, pop art, and abstract expressionism, and is infused with autobiographical, psychological, and sexual content.”
The installations were set throughout the gardens. Some were sculptures others were more symbolic, such as wrapping trees in ‘Minnie Mouse’ polka dots. It was interesting to see how many different materials were used in her artwork.
Planning your visit to the New York Botanical Garden
By Metro-North Railroad
Just 20 minutes from Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan! Take the Metro-North Harlem local line to Botanical Garden Station, located directly across the street from the Garden’s Mosholu Entrance. For schedules and maps, visit the MTA website.
Take the B, D, or 4 train to Bedford Park Blvd. Station. From the station exit: Take the Bx26 bus east to the Garden’s Mosholu Entrance.
OR walk eight blocks down the hill on Bedford Park Blvd (approximately 20 minutes). Turn left onto Southern Blvd. and walk one block to Mosholu Entrance.
Take the 2 train to Allerton Ave. station. From the station exit: Walk three blocks west on Allerton Ave. Turn left on Bronx Park East and walk two blocks to Waring Ave. At the park entrance, walk up the small hill leading directly to the Garden’s East Gate (daytime access only).
|Address:||2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY|
|Telephone:||T: (718) 817-8700|
The Garden is open year-round, and hours are typically 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Check the website for the current hours.
Includes daytime access to the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, and Tram Tour, plus Garden features including the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden and outdoor collections.
Best time to visit New York City
Fall and spring are considered by tourists and locals as the best times to visit, and you can expect pleasant temperatures to reign in the months from April to June and September until November. However, the best times of year to visit New York City for warm-weather activities are from mid-June to July and from early August to the end of September.
Other things to do whilst in New York City
1. BRONX ZOO
The Bronx Zoo is a zoo within Bronx Park in the Bronx, New York. It is one of the largest zoos in the United States by area and is the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States by area, comprising 265 acres of parklands and naturalistic habitats separated by the Bronx River.
It is a great place to spend the day with your family, or indeed on your own. The highlights for us are the Congo Gorilla exhibit, JungleWorld, Madagascar and the Wild Asia Monorail.
2. MUSEUM OF MODERN ART (MoMA)
3. 9/11 MEMORIAL MUSEUM
The 9/11 Memorial Museum invites visitors to learn about the history of the 9/11 attacks and 1993 World Trade Center bombing at the site where the Twin Towers once stood. The Museum’s dynamic blend of architecture, archaeology, and history creates an unforgettable encounter with the story of the attacks, their aftermath, and the people who experienced these events.
4. STATUE OF LIBERTY & ELLIS ISLAND
The Statue of Liberty is an iconic symbol of the United States of America. You can visit the statue on Liberty Island by ferry from Manhattan and New Jersey. On Liberty Island, there is a museum dedicated to the history of Lady Liberty.
Also, from Liberty Island, you can make the short journey across the water to Ellis Island, which was the reception centre for people emigrating to America. Today, it is a museum run by the National Park Service and an archive where visitors can trace their relatives who made the life-changing journey across the water to start new lives in the United States of America.
5. CENTRAL PARK
Central Park is one of the most recognisable parts of New York City anyone who has seen TV series or films made in New York will be familiar with many of its features. It is not just a place for visitors to the city to wander it is also a playground for New Yorkers to come and escape the concrete and brick of the city.
Where to stay in New York City
1. ELEMENT TIMES SQUARE
During our visit to New York, we stayed in the Element hotel which is in the Hells Kitchen district. For us, it was perfectly located and was only a 5-minute walk to Times Square. It was also very close to several metro stations and the main bus terminal. We were feeling a bit stingy and cautious due to the Covid-19 pandemic so we decided to walk from Penn Station to the hotel, which only took us 10-minutes, hauling our luggage.
The room was good, we had a little kitchenette and there were pots, pans, plates and silverware, so we were self-contained. We were lucky enough to be on one of the higher floors, so we had a view. It was also possible to see the Empire State building.
Breakfast is included but nothing to write home about, but there are plenty of places to eat in the area so it was not a problem for us.
2. YOTEL NEW YORK
3. FREEHAND HOTEL
Freehand is located in the former George Washington hotel, known as the home of many artists, and it has maintained its creative spirit. It has a partnership with Bard College and many artists take an active part in designing the hotel and in shaping its cultural life. Freehand features five restaurants and bars, and elegantly designed rooms with private bathrooms. The rooms sleep up to 6 people.
It is located on Lexington Avenue and in walking distance of Union Square, Midtown and Flatiron.