A visit to New York City always conjures up visions of shows on Broadway, the Empire State Building, Battery Park and Rockefeller Center. But New York is home to some beautiful gardens, too, and I’m not just talking about Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Here are three out-of-the-way gardens well worth a visit.
New York Botanical Garden
2900 Southern Boulevard
The NY Botanical Garden is a little out of the way—a 20-minute train ride from Grand Central Station to the Bronx—but you’ll be glad you made the effort. Currently in flower are the rose, perennial, native plant and rock gardens. But the big attractions are sculptures created specifically for the garden by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly, which are scattered among the trees and plants, as well as indoors in the Library and the Conservatory. The exhibit runs through October 29, 2017.
You can download a free interactive Chihuly guide to lead you through the garden grounds and ensure you see all 20-plus sculptures. And here’s a tip: If you lose the guide on your smartphone after signing on to the free NYBG Wi-fi, simply open your browser and type in www.nybig.org/chihuly to regain it. If the site isn’t showing where you are in the garden, check to make sure your “location services” feature on the phone is on (in Settings).
A highlight of the garden is the large Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, a Victorian-style glass enclosement, which features a variety of changing exhibits. One of my favorite places is the courtyard pond within the Conservatory that houses a variety of water lilies.
The NYBG Gift Shop is always fun to visit, too: You can purchase plants along with unique books, posters, kitchen items, jewelry and all sorts of other gifts. Nearby is the Pine Tree Café, Taco Truck and The Cantina for quick eats; near the Conservatory are the Hudson Garden Grill for more refined dining (reservations suggested) and the Conservatory Plaza Bar. Burger Truck is located near the Mosholu Gate Entrance.
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm, plus special events on some evenings, such as opportunities to see the Chihuly sculptures at night on specified Thursdays and Saturdays.
Admission (depending on the day you visit): $23-$28 ($20-$25 for senior citizens and students, $10-$12 for children)
To get there from Manhattan: Take Metro North’s Harlem Line from Grand Central Station to the Botanical Garden Stop. Cross Southern Boulevard to enter the Garden through the Mosholu Gate Entrance. You can also take several subway lines to the Bronx; see the website for more information.
Tip: Be prepared to walk—a lot—since the garden spans 250 acres. There are also some hilly sections. You can catch a narrated tram tour (there are audio cellphone tours and guided tours, too), and free wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Download an accessibility guide from the website.
675 West 252 Street
Bronx, NY 10471
Wave Hill is a small 28-acre public garden oasis located in the upscale Riverdale section of the Bronx. It overlooks the Hudson River and gives a spectacular view of the Palisades rock formations across the river in New Jersey and the George Washington Bridge (which connects Manhattan and New Jersey). It is a lovely place for a stroll, lunch (you can eat in their café or bring a picnic lunch) and some quiet time. Free guided tours of the garden are offered on Saturdays and Tuesdays at 11:00am and on Sundays at 2:00pm.
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 9:00am-4:30pm, closes at 8:30pm on Wednesdays for sunsets June 28-August 9 and Thursdays July 6-August 10
Admission: $8 for adults ($4 for senior citizens and students, $2 for kids over age 2)
To get there from Manhattan: Take the Metro North Hudson Line local train from Grand Central Station to the Riverdale Station. Wave Hill operates a fee shuttle to get visitors to and from the station to the garden. See the website for schedules.
You can also take the #1 subway to West 242nd street and meet a Wave Hill shuttle. See the website for schedules and other train and bus options.
Fort Tryon Park
1 Margaret Corbin Drive
This 67-acre park (download map) overlooking the Hudson River is located in upper Manhattan in a neighborhood known as Washington Heights. The park was bequeathed to New York City by the Rockefeller family and runs from Riverside Drive east to Broadway, and north from West 192nd Street to Dyckman Street. It features the city’s largest garden, the lovely Heather garden, as well as an alpine garden, miles of walking/running trails through woods and The Cloisters, the uptown outpost of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Cloisters incorporates structural elements from five French cloistered abbeys and features over 5,000 works of art and glasswork from medieval Europe. Most famously, it is home to a series of unicorn tapestries depicting the hunt of the mystical beast; the tapestries date back to the 1400s. If you’re a bird-watcher, be sure to visit the Cabrini Woods Nature Sanctuary.
Hours: Open every day
Admission: No fee, except for the Cloisters
Directions from Manhattan: You can ride the A train from midtown Manhattan up to 190th Street, where you take the elevator or stairs up to Fort Washington Avenue and walk north to the park. Or you can take the M4 or M98 buses north to the last stop; the buses should carry signs that say 190th Street, 192nd Street, Cloisters, or Margaret Corbin Circle. For other directions, go the website.
Disclosure: I was a guest of the New York Botanical Garden, but any opinions expressed in this post are my own.