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

Broadway Blooms: Jon Isherwood on Broadway

Harlem

Eight marble sculptures in the form of flowers celebrates the return to life of the city after a long and difficult winter and spring. Find an array of colors and forms on eight locations on the green malls at the center of Broadway from 64th Street to 157th Street, By Jon Isherwood, organized in partnership…

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…

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 climate change, including planting 1,000 trees and shrubs in collaboration with Natural Areas Conservancy, are planned throughout the run of the exhibition.

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…

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…

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…

Music on the Green

Flatiron/Gramercy

Enjoy a free, unticketed concert series inspired by Maya Lin’s Ghost Forest that brings artists from Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect to reflect on the themes of the exhibition.

Concerts held on the Oval Lawn. Limited seating is available on a first come, first served basis. Program is rain or shine.

BROOKLYN

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…

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…

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.

*…

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.

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…

BRONX

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 at NYBG

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.

Eric Carle’s World of Wildlife

Bronx

Cherished books by legendary children’s author Eric Carle come to life with live performances, dance, music, games, and other activities. Go on a leisurely journey through some of his most beloved works — The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See, The Very Busy Spider, and The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse – and visit some real brown bears and butterflies.

See puppet shows, meet & greet costumed characters, take photos with larger-than-life illustrations, crawl through a cocoon tunnel, explore a larger-than-life spider web maze and more fun literary-inspired fun.

First Friday at 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.

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…

Rye Beaches & Kayaking

Upper Westchester

Swim in the calm Long Island Sound at two adjacent white sand beaches.

Stroll the quarter-mile boardwalk at Playland Beach, next to an old-time amusement park.

Beach is open 11 am to 6:30 pm; parking $10/car, beach $4/ages 12+, $3/ages 5–11. Play mini-golf for $5/person.

Oakland Beach, run by the town…

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, crabs & clams, fun spray showers and lots of greenspace. Swimming allowed when lifeguards on duty (10 am-5 pm).

Concessions available and lots of food options on nearby Mamaroneck Ave; we recommend…

First Friday at 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.

CONNECTICUT/Hudson Valley

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

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…

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.

* Some roads are paved…

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

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…