NATURE & ANIMALS

Celebrate spring with flowers and furry friends.

Also see our guides to everything happening in NYC, our favorite spots in Central Park, more active outdoor adventures and family-friendly museums & pop-ups in case of rain.

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Manhattan

Bryant Park

There’s always something fun happening – performances, classes, games and more- at this lush midtown oasis with perhaps the cleanest public bathrooms in the city. * Read books, newspapers, and magazines for all ages in the Reading Room open-air library. * Create art inspired by the urban life, flowers, and monuments of Bryant Park with…

Macy’s Flower Show – Give.Love.Bloom

Midtown-30s

Macy’s annual Flower Show returns with mask, social distancing and  a floral celebration of fortitude. Exotic flowers & plants from around the world transform the famous department store into a breathtaking floral extravaganza. Installations celebrating courage and positivity feature butterfly bridges and dragonfly dreamscapes. Lots of photo ops and an  interactive Believe wall.

 

Conservatory Gardens

Enter the magnificent 1894 Vanderbilt Gate to Central Park’s only formal garden, a six-acre oasis within an oasis with European charm.

Climb onto the wisteria pergola in the Italianate Center Garden overlooking a yew hedges-bordered large lawn and 12-foot jet fountain. To the north, the French-style garden offers spectacular seasonal displays of tulips and Korean…

High Line

Take a stroll on the unique public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side.

* Timed-entry passes required on weekends. On weekdays, the park is open at 7 am –7 pm without reservations.

* Lots of nature, art installations (including current group exhibition The…

The Loeb Boathouse

Weather permitting, rent classic rowboats, available April through November, 10 am until dusk. Boats are $20 per hour (cash only), $5 for each additional 15 minutes with a $20 cash deposit. Each boat holds up to 4 people. Life jackets provided.

Dine overlooking the lovely lake on a breezy. covered terrace at this elegant yet…

Discovery Pop-Up Program: The Birds of Central Park

Each year, more than 200 bird species make an appearance in Central Park, a popular stopover along the Atlantic Flyway. Discover how to spot and respectfully appreciate these winged wonders with park birding guides, stationed at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center Plaza Saturdays 11 am–1 pm and Belvedere Castle Sundays 11 am–1 pm.

Also borrow…

BROOKLYN

New York Aquarium

See sharks, rays, sea otters, octopus, jellyfish and more at the oldest continually operating aquarium in the US.

* Take in a sea lion show at the Aquatheater (limited seating), chill out while zebra sharks swim overhead and admire rainbow colored coral exhibits.

* Explore a new exhibit Spineless celebrating weird and wonderful invertebrates.

*…

Prospect Park Zoo

This former menagerie is designed to allow up-close animal viewing, perfect for families with young children who want to learn about wildlife.

Explore a Discovery Trail and encounter 400 animals of 150 species including red panda, dingo, and a host of beautiful birds. Visit unique small cats, sea lions and Chinese-big headed turtles.

Food and…

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Explore a 52-acre urban botanic garden with a variety of plants and habitats.

*  Don’t miss the lovely Japanese Garden’s pond, home to turtles, carp, ducks and its small Shinto shrine guarded by two stone fox statues (and gorgeous cherry blossoms in the spring).

* Download a kids field journal and see tips…

Art in the Garden: Spring Weekends

Celebrate the welcome return of spring at Brooklyn Botanic Garden with casual, pop-up music and dance performances on weekends. The diverse line-up is different each weekend with dance and music from Japan, Africa, Jewish traditions and more.

 

 

QUEENS

Queens Botanical Garden

Explore lovely gardens in a 39-acre oasis in one of New York City’s most bustling and diverse neighborhoods. Look for site-specific art throughout the garden including large scale prints on ‘Invasive Species’ by Sam Scoggins in the Visitor & Administration Building and a a beautiful mural ‘Wonder Garden’ outside the Education Building.

Queens Zoo

This intimate zoo in Flushing Meadows houses wildlife native to the Americas including more than 4,000 Puerto Rican crested toads, Andean Bear Cubs, American bison and rare breeds of domestic animals including Flemish giant rabbits, Texas longhorn cattle, and Jacob’s four-horned sheep.

Some food and shopping available but only accepting credit card/apple pay. Advance online…

Flower Patch at Queens Botanical Garden

Unique floral and garden creature installations transform the QBG Farm into a fantastic flower spectacle creating an immersive environment and stunning backdrop for photos. Meet costumed nature creatures, pick a pot of flowers to take home and a get a floral themed grab-and-go craft activity kit. Fee includes general Garden admission and entry to the…

BRONX

Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum

The Greek Revival period rooms of this splendid 19th century home close to the bay are currently only open 12 – 3 pm Saturdays & Sundays ($15/adults, $10/seniors & students), but the gorgeous grounds including specular formal, terraced gardens can be explored any day. Situated within a 60-acre New York City Landmark Historic District and…

Bronx Equestrian Center

Stop by this horse farm in Pelham Bay Park Park for pony rides ($5/three rides) or reserve relaxing trail rides ($65/hour). Long pants, closed shoes, helmets required and available at the stable. Bug repellent recommended.

Lessons for ages 6+ ($40/half-hour private lesson) and weekly camps also available.

Also visit nearby Orchard Beach, explore the lovely…

Orchard Beach

This 115-acre, 1.1-mile-long manmade Long Island Sound beach (aka “The Bronx Riviera”) has plenty of room for social distancing.

* Features include a two playgrounds – one of them in the sand, a hexagonal-block promenade (bring skates and scooters), a central pavilion, snack bars, , two picnic areas, a large parking lot, and 26 courts…

Wave Hill

Explore 28-acre of gardens and woodlands with more than 4,000 varieties of trees, shrubs, vines, and herbaceous plants and dramatic views of the Hudson River.

The delicious Café has grab-and-go items, snacks and beverages amn outdoor seating on a lovely terrace. Or bing your own food to a picnic area by the art gallery.

Join…

Bronx Zoo

 See tigers, bears, gorillas and over 650 other species of awesome animals at this 265 acres+ zoo.

* Tons of indoor and outdoor attractions – expect lots of walking but strollers welcome and the roads are scenic with pretty trees (and some bold peacocks).

* Learn about gorillas and watch them play in the mostly indoors Congo Gorilla Forest, ride on a ladybug on the Bug Carousel, pet and feed sheep, cows…

Kusama: Cosmic Nature

Experience a multisensory presentation of the work of internationally celebrated Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Explore the artist’s profound engagement with nature throughout the changing seasons from spring into fall.

* Multiple installations across NYBG’s 250-acre landmark landscape and buildings include Kusama’s signature mirrored environments and organic forms – find polka-dotted sculptures of colossal flora, mesmerizing…

Mother’s Day Picnic at Wave Hill

Explore 28-acre of gardens and woodlands with more than 4,000 varieties of trees, shrubs, vines, and herbaceous plants and dramatic views of the Hudson River. Join a nature-inspired outdoor family art project about seeds & spells (10 am-1 pm)

Enjoy a custom Mother’s Day picnic provided by Wave Hill exclusive caterer Great Performances. Each…

WESTCHESTER/HUDSON VALLEY

Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum

The Greek Revival period rooms of this splendid 19th century home close to the bay are currently only open 12 – 3 pm Saturdays & Sundays ($15/adults, $10/seniors & students), but the gorgeous grounds including specular formal, terraced gardens can be explored any day. Situated within a 60-acre New York City Landmark Historic District and…

Greenburgh Nature Center

Lower Westchester

From dawn till dusk, explore 33-acres of hiking trails, native meadow and vernal pond, and say hello to outdoor animals including goats, bunnies and eagles. Play on a large nature-inspired playground with lots of equipment for all ages.

Indoor exhibits and manor house currently closed. Schedule private fun and educational Naturalist-led hour-long programs for $175+…

Untermeyer Gardens

Find gorgeous flowers, stunning views and picturesque architecture (including a Temple of Love) in a historic 43 acre park, located in Yonkers on the Hudson River.

Timed entry reservations required Friday–Sunday. Lots of nearby dining.

Signs of Spring Scavenger Hunt

Walk around the Lenoir Preserve exploring and checking off a scavenger hunt list. Knock on door of  the nature center to receive list.

Explore a 40-acre nature preserve comprising woodlands and field habitats adjacent to the Old Croton Aqueduct on slopes overlooking the Hudson River, providing spectacular views. Unusual specimen trees and shrubs imported from…

CONNECTICUT/Hudson Valley

Got Your Goat

Lots of options for interacting with adorable goats. Visit the farm to bottle feed and snuggle with baby goats ($50/person) or play with the babies, feed the older goats and take a walk with 10 goats ($100), book 1-2 hour hike on local trail within 30 miles in Connecticut and Northern Westchester ($100) or book…

The Maritime Aquarium

Explore 75 live exhibits featuring more than 2,700 marine animals of 300 species at this aquarium devoted to Long Island Sound (which is right outside, boat rides available). See big and small sharks, stingrays, harbor seals, sea turtles, game fish, jellies, crabs, lobsters, mollusks and more. Plus non marine animals including tamarins and meerkats.

Storm King Art Center

Experience large-scale sculpture and site-specific commissions under open sky at a gorgeous 500-acre outdoor museum in New York’s Hudson Valley (about a 1-hour drive from Manhattan).

* Currently an outdoor-only experience with limited amenities (bathrooms available).

* Prepare for lots of open air walking. Wear comfortable shoes and weather-appropriate layers. Go early to get the…

Barton Orchards Apple Blossom Festival

Celebrate the arrival of spring at 175 acre working family farm. Enjoy apple blossoms, live music in the orchards, magic shows, games, a wooden ship playground, animal zoo, hayrides, min-golf, gem stone mining (extra charge) and more fun for the whole family plus a farm market, concessions, ice cream stand, tap room (21+), animals and…

The Maritime Aquarium Cruises

Explore the Norwalk Island chain by water on a 64-foot all-aluminum catamaran that runs virtually silently on electric power. Study marine biodiversity from the water’s surface down to the bottom and learn Long Island Sound’s interdependent marine life. Watch sampling techniques such as a plankton tow, trawl net and biodredge that generally bring up a…

New Jersey

South Mountain Fairy Trail

Discover dozens of tiny fairy houses made of natural materials like twigs, acorns and moss dotted along part of the Rahway Trail.

* Enter at the Locust Grove entrance across from the Millburn Library. Look for the Rahway Trail sign near the large blue recycling bin in the midway in the parking lot.

* The…

Essex County Turtle Back Zoo

See over 200 species representing animals from around the world including tigers, lions, exotic birds and many more. Indoor areas like Reptile House, Touch Tank, Sea Turtle Recovery, and Penguins are open with one-way traffic patterns and limited capacities.

* Also ride an endangered species carousel, take a ropes course/zip line through the trees (ages…

Wild Safari Drive-Thru Adventure

New Jersey

Drive (slowly) through 1,200 animals from six continents including elephants, rhinos, tigers, giraffes and lions a 350-acre preserve in Jackson, New Jersey (about 1.5 hours from Manhattan). The safari takes about an hour or two depending on traffic (and animals crossings – they can get very close).

The audio guide is mostly safety instructions. Download…