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.

We'll keep updating as more places open; sign up for our email list and follow our insta for the latest.

Manhattan

Conservatory Gardens

Central Park

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…

Swedish Cottage & Shakespeare Garden

Central Park

The only building in Central Park that was not originally created for the Park, the Swedish Cottage was built in Sweden and came to the United States in 1876 as part of the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition, the first World’s Fair in the U.S. An example of traditional Swedish architecture and wood craftsmanship, it now houses…

Little Island

Chelsea

Explore a new immersive experience with nature and art on a floating green space on the Hudson River.

* Enjoy diverse horticulture, welcoming seating lawns, winding paths leading to spectacular views, and a variety of spaces for performing arts, relaxation and play.

* Make music on a variety of percussion installations and play with a…

Koneko

Lower East Side

Play with roaming (adoptable) cats in three cat-centric spaces: the sunlit Upper Cattery, the warm and cozy Lower Cattery, and a first-of-its-kind outdoor Catio. Food from a Japanese- influenced menu, house-made desserts, plus beer, wine, and sake available for purchase.

Wednesday-Sunday 11 am –  3 pm & 4 pm – 8 pm

M’Finda Kalunga Community Garden

East Village

Look for cool art nestled among the flowers and trees this beautiful garden–almost a city block long–nestled in Sara Roosevelt Park.  Up to 50 volunteer gardeners including community groups maintain individual beds, and contribute to the upkeep of communal areas. Highlights include a small pond with koi, goldfish and turtles, a chicken coop (that donates…

Faces of the Wild

West Village

See international artists and conservationists Gillie and Marc Schattner’s newest installation with nine six-foot-tall sculptures representing some of the most endangered animals in the world including the Northern white rhino, chimpanzee, addax, western lowland gorilla, polar bear, red wolf, African forest elephant, hippopotamus, and lion. Each sculpture has a QR code that provides more information…

Bryant Park Reading Room, Games & Art Cart

Midtown-40s

* Read books, newspapers, and magazines for all ages in the Reading Room open-air library among pretty flowers.

* Borrow chess, Connect Four, Sorry and other board games on the Fifth Avenue Terrace and play on ping pong tables, pétanque courts and putting greens.

* Get inspired by the urban life, flowers, and monuments of…

Flower Craft

Midtown-50s

Celebrate the creative visions of botanical artists working at the forefront of contemporary floral design. Inspired by nature’s ephemerality and its inimitable palettes, these artists are investigating all stages of the plant life cycle, from seed to germination to decay, to interpret nature in sculptural form. As they expand the boundaries of materials and creative…

Governors Island

Fidi

Oasis-with-a-view Governors Island is just a short ferry ride away. Lots of room to roam and play on this 172 acre former military post.

* Relax in Hammock Grove’s cozy hammocks (and say hello to sheep), find breathtaking 360-degree views in The Hills and camp out in Adirondack chairs at Picnic Point. Throughout the island…

Catch-and-Release Fishing

Central Park

Borrow fishing poles for catch-and-release fishing at the Harlem Meer. Try to hook largemouth bass, pumpkinseed sunfish, bluegill sunfish, carp, and chain pickerel.

Poles plus instructions and bait (corn kernels) available at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, on the north shore of the Meer.

See our guide to Central Park.

Central Park Zoo

Central Park

Visit sea lions, snow monkeys, red pandas, turtles, bears and other animals at the cozy Central Park Zoo.

* Watch crowds of penguins and puffins swim and waddle in the  indoor Polar circle.

* Warm up with colorful birds and playful monkeys in an indoor rain forest.

* Look for snow leopards, cute red pandas,…

Manhattan Kayak

Midtown-40s

Rent single and tandem kayak and paddle boards for boat rides with magnificent midtown views (and maybe some dead fish). Kid sized equipment available for easier maneuvering. Life jackets and Ziplock baggie for face covers and phones provided. BYO water bottle and lock for lockers.

All rentals stay in the supervised cove. To go into…

Harlem Grown Saturdays on the Farm

Harlem

Learn about fruits, veggies, planting, and gardening through engaging lessons, educational games, crafts, and cooking with volunteer-run Harlem Grown Urban Farms. No registration is required.

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. See sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions, and penguins at outdoor Sea…

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…

First Discoveries at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Explorers up to 5 years old (and their caregivers) can pot up a plant, create a craft, read a story, and use senses to explore nature at special Discovery Garden activity stations designed for toddlers. Activities rotate weekly.

Drop-in. Free with Garden admission.

All programs are outdoors and canceled in inclement weather. Check the website…

Open Hours at Environmental Education Center

Get to know Brooklyn Bridge Park with monthly educational themes, a 250 gallon aquarium filled with critters from the East River, a 10’ scale model of Brooklyn Bridge Park, crafts, a reading corner, and much more. Drop-in hours three afternoons a week offer the opportunity for self-led investigation with guidance by expert educators to…

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 a reflective, life-sized kaleidoscope and a beautiful mural ‘Wonder Garden’ outside the Education Building.

Closed Mondays (except holidays).

BRONX

Wave Hill

Bronx

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 nature-inspired outdoor family art projects on Saturday & Sunday mornings.

* Visit indoor rotating nature-inspired multimedia art exhibits in the Glyndor Gallery.

* Free admission on Thursdays.

Bronx Zoo

Bronx

 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…

New York Botanical Garden

Bronx

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 nature-based paintings, biomorphic collages, giant mirrored cubes, a pumpkin infinity room and  a spectacular horticultural showcase in the  Conservatory. New works created by the legendary, 90-year-old artist, include a monumental site-specific ‘Dancing Pumpkin’ sculpture and her first-ever participatory greenhouse installation, where visitors place Daisies and transform a greenhouse.

* A new immersive Infinity Mirrored Room—Illusion Inside the Heart, responds to varying natural light through colored glass throughout the day and seasons. Separate tickets required for interior access; tickets are highly limited and expected to sell out. Up to four people can enter the at once.

* Themed activities in the  interactive Children’s Garden include a Scavenger Hunt pamphlet with, self-guided activities including searching for plants with the dot patterns that inspired Kusama. Join readings of  Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infinity!, one of our favorite art books, weekends at 11 am, 1 pm & 3pm.

WESTCHESTER/HUDSON VALLEY

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.

Inside the historic manor house (open Tuesday–Sunday, 10 am – 4 pm), find two floors of live…

Untermyer Gardens

Lower Westchester

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.

Closes one hour before sunset. Lots of nearby dining.

Katonah Museum of Art

Upper Westchester

A distinctly modernist building in the scenic hamlet of Katonah hosts three to four exhibitions annually, covering a broad range of art and humanities topics. Explore the peaceful sculpture garden and surrounding Norway spruce trees.

Current exhibitions include ARRIVALS, featuring some 50 works spanning the 16th century to the present, exploring arrivals to America –…

100 Acre Wood Exhibit

Upper Westchester

Winnie the Pooh and friends come to life in an enchanting tale that teaches children about the importance of  forests and the inhabitants that live there. Explore a storybook adventure featuring the original characters of A.A. Milne and art of E.H. Shepard, with an array of colorful flowers, plants and shrubs filling the Conservatory with…

Untermyer Gardens Family Adventure Tour

Lower Westchester

Explore a historic 43 acre park in Yonkers with gorgeous flowers, stunning Hudson River views and picturesque architecture. Guides engage kids in a lively exchange about plants, mythology, architecture, sculpture and ruins. Learn about a new part of the garden each week.

Intended for children between 7-12 accompanied by at least one adult.

Animal Moms: A Mommy and Me Program

Lower Westchester

Learn about animal moms near and far and make a craft for mom. Walk the beautiful Sheldrake trail to find signs of busy animal moms at work.

Geared for pre-school families. Older siblings welcome. Not a drop-off program.

Advance registration is required; space is limited.

CONNECTICUT/Hudson Valley

Mohonk Mountain House

Hudson Valley

Explore an iconic Victorian castle resort surrounded by 40,000 acres of pristine forest.

* Tons of family-friendly seasonal activities to try including kayaking, archery, hiking, fly-fishing, lawn games and more.

* Head indoors for craft kits, afternoon tea (and cookies), special evening kids’ entertainment, and family fun.

* Dine on delicious farm-to-table cuisine in the…

Got Your Goat

Connecticut

Interact with adorable goats with a range of experiences. 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…

Stamford Museum & Nature Center

Connecticut

Try a variety of seasonal indoor and outdoor activities at this large museum & nature center.

* Walk over 80 acres of walking nature trails – including a universally accessible Wheels in the Woods Trail. Follow  a brook with pretty waterfalls, look for abundant wildlife (including an otter pond), and learn with interpretive educational signs.…

The Maritime Aquarium

Connecticut

Explore 75 live exhibits featuring more than 2,700 marine animals of 300 species at this aquarium devoted to Long Island Sound.

* See big and small sharks, stingrays, harbor seals, sea turtles, game fish, jellies, crabs, lobsters, mollusks and more. Plus see no- marine animals including tamarins and meerkats.

* Touch tanks are open with…

Storm King Art Center

Hudson Valley

Experience large-scale sculpture and site-specific commissions under open sky at a gorgeous 500-acre outdoor museum in New York’s Hudson Valley.

* Currently an outdoor-only experience with limited amenities. Bathrooms available via a separate entrance behind the Museum Building and Porta Johns are located throughout. A warming station is located under the picnic pavilion near South…

The Maritime Aquarium Cruises

Connecticut

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

Essex County Turtle Back Zoo

New Jersey

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, play Safari-themed mini golf ($10-$12), climb the Prehistoric Playground…

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…