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

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 two lovely Sing…

Bryant Park

Midtown-40s

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…

High Line

Chelsea

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…

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…

The Loeb Boathouse

Central Park

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…

Maya Lin: Ghost Forest

Flatiron/Gramercy

Walk through forty-nine haunting Atlantic white cedar trees evoking the outsized impact of a looming environmental calamity in Maya Lin’s installation in Madison Square Park

Listen to Lin’s Ghost Forest Soundscape from your phone to hear native species of animals once common to Manhattan. A series of public programs focused on nature-based solutions to…

Governors Island

Fidi

Oasis-with-a-view Governors Island opens for the season. 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, new this year), find breathtaking 360-degree views in The Hills, get moving on the Play Lawns, and camp out in an Adirondack…

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.

Reserve ahead online. No water experience needed. Ages 3-10 must…

Central Park Zoo

Central Park

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

* Most indoor areas are now open including the delightful penguins & sea birds exhibit and tropic zone. 4D Theater is closed.

* Climb, play and pet at the interactive children’s zoo across the path.

* Some…

June Rites !!

Fidi

Join an original hour of visually stunning and viscerally contagious live performance. Conceived as a civic ritual in dialogue with state fairs and summer solstice festivals, this piece will be an opportunity for collective reemergence into public spaces after a long, hard winter. By turns reflective, playful, somber and ecstatic, the performers and musicians of…

Manhattan West Woof Fest: Paws for Pride

Midtown-30s

Run around the doggy playground, learn tips and tricks from a trainer, and have a caricature artist capture you and your pet’s true colors!.

Tickets are recommended and are available FREE to the public on June 14. Walk-ins are welcome if space allows.

Discovery Walks for Families: The North Woods

Central Park

Learn about the design of the largest of the Park’s woodlands, a 40-acre forest retreat in the middle of New York City, and how the plants and trees contribute to the health of an urban woodland community. Includes hands-on exploration and guided activities in a complementary Discovery Journal.

BROOKLYN

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…

Pollination Scavenger Hunt

Celebrate National Pollinators week with a Pier 6 pollinators scavenger hunt. Search for animals that help pollinate plants in the park and some of the flowers currently in bloom.

Sop by a prize table at Pier 6 and share your completed hunt with the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy.

See our guide to Brooklyn Bridge Park

QUEENS

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…

Queens County Farm Museum

Visit 47-acres of the longest continuously farmed site in New York State (since 1697). See historic farm buildings, a greenhouse complex, farm vehicles and implements, planting fields, an orchard and herb garden and livestock including cattle, sheep, chickens and llamas.

 

 

Rockaway Beach

This clean beach on the Atlantic Ocean features wide stretches of soft sand, a 5.5-mile boardwalk, playgrounds and a vibe so cool it was featured in a Ramones song.

* Find some of the best food in NYC at the concessions, especially the one at 97th Street concession. Get excellent burgers at Rippers on 86th…

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.

The Floral Escape

Stroll through a series of immersive, multi-sensory floral filled installations. Grab “The Best Seat in the House” as you sit amongst a bed of blooms, put your “Petal to the Metal” in a floral filled taxi, or snap a selfie under our beautiful floral arches for the ultimate “Garden Vibes.”

Also explore 47-acres of the…

BRONX

Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum

Lower Westchester

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 is surrounded by a “forever wild” zoned forest. Look for a circa 1840 Carriage House, a Children’s Organic Garden, climbable sculptures, a colonial graveyard, an authentically fabricated Lenape wigwam and lots of nature.

Enjoy outdoor music the first Friday evening of each month and other interesting programming for all ages.

Bronx Equestrian Center

Pelham Bay Park

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.

Orchard Beach

Pelham Bay Park

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 (skates & scooters welcome), a central pavilion, snack bars, two picnic areas, a large parking lot, and 26 courts for basketball, volleyball, and handball.

* Changing areas and showers available. Swimming allowed while lifeguard on duty (10 am–6 pm). Water is calm with small waves but not always the cleanest.

* No fee for beach access. Can get crowded and a bit rowdy so come early.

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…

Kusama: Cosmic Nature

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…

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.

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

Eric Carle’s World of Wildlife

Bronx

The spacious animal kingdom is all decked out for Halloween.

* Thursday through Sunday, watch giant pumpkin carving demos, join dancers, stilt-walkers and drummers in (socially-distanced) costume parades, see magic acts, explore an Extinct Animal Graveyard, go on a MASKerade scavenger hunt to find favorite “masked” and “costumed” animals throughout the zoo, pick up treats on a candy trail and more spooky family fun.

* Also see tigers, bears, gorillas and over 650 other species of awesome animals…

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, find two floors of live animals from all over the world. A…

Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum

Lower Westchester

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 is surrounded by a “forever wild” zoned forest. Look for a circa 1840 Carriage House, a Children’s Organic Garden, climbable sculptures, a colonial graveyard, an authentically fabricated Lenape wigwam and lots of nature.

Enjoy outdoor music the first Friday evening of each month and other interesting programming for all ages.

Croton Point Beach

Upper Westchester

Swim in the Hudson River, lounge in a wide expanse of sand and explore a 508-acre park with stunning views of Haverstraw Bay.

* Hourly Kayak & SUP rentals available.

* Bathrooms are open but showers are closed.

* Weekend only through June 20.

Lasdon Park & Arboretum

Upper Westchester

This 234-acre public park has extensive formal gardens, an arboretum with a number of tree collections and a number of walking trails including a stunning veteran’s memorial trail. Highlights include a Chinese Friendship Garden and the dinosaur garden with life-size statues (sometimes closed due to weather, call ahead to confirm). Use your smart phone to…

Harbor Island Park & Beach

Lower Westchester

This lovely marina in the suburbs has a small harbor beach with calm water (don’t expect waves), swan sightings, fishing on a pier, lots of crabs & clams, fun spray showers and lots of green spaces. Swimming allowed when lifeguards on duty (10 am-5 pm).

Concessions available and lots of food options on nearby Mamaroneck…

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.

Timed entry reservations required Friday–Sunday. 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 Still/Live, an exploration of how contemporary artists working in photography, video and new media are reimagining the…

Untermyer Park & 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 who must be accompanied by at least one…

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 hiking, archery, concerts and more.

* Go out on the gorgeous lake in paddle boats, row boats and canoes. Relax on the sandy beach take a refreshing dip in the glacial water.

Greenwich Point Park

Connecticut

This pretty beach in a large green park with lots of trees and paths is super kid-friendly – gentle waves, lots of animals including geese and small crab to collect and covered wood pavilions for shade not far from the water. The concession stand sells an array of hot dogs, hamburgers, sandwiches, ice cream and…

Got Your Goat

Connecticut

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…

Great Captain Island

Connecticut

Greenwich is home to two islands situated roughly two miles off of Greenwich Harbor, Great Captain Island and Island Beach. It’s a bit of expense of effort to get to the islands, but worth it.

* The islands are preserved in their natural state, no cars or stores, with many different species of birds. Visible…

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 (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

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 (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…

New Jersey

South Mountain Fairy Trail

New Jersey

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…

Spring Lake Beach

New Jersey

This beautiful beach with a long boardwalk in a small seaside community manages crowds with daily online ‘Beach Badges.’ Select a date and area on the website, then pick up at the Spring Lake Train Station (Mon-Fri 8 am–3 pm & Sat-Sun 8 am–5 pm).

* Lifeguards on duty 9 am-6 pm daily.

* No…

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…