The New York Botanical Gardens are, in a word, incredible. We were only able to briefly scratch the surface of all they have to offer, but it is a place I would love to explore further. The Botanical Gardens are described as an oasis in the busy city and that is most definitely what it is. This National Historic Landmark is 250 acres and has a wide range of diverse flora. The Botanical Gardens also engage with the community as an educational institute, partnering with public schools, and operating a large research and conservation program.
I think it is easy to think of botanical gardens as something for adults, but they are wonderful places to explore with children. We visited in November of 2015 and spent the majority of our time in the Holiday Train Show and the Children's Adventure Garden - two particularly child friendly spots. Given more time I would happily explore further or make frequent return trips.
The Metro-North Harlem local line from Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan drops you off across the street from the Botanical Gardens. The train took about 20 minutes and was a super easy way to get to and from the Botanical Gardens. If you live or are staying a little closer to the Bronx, the subway might be a better option for you. There is more information on their website or through the MTA.
Put on Your Walking Shoes
Remember when I mentioned about that the New York Botanical Gardens are 250 acres? My biggest tip is: be prepared to walk. It is a lovely walk. The well maintained trails and paths, the beautiful landscaping, and the stops along the way insure the pleasant nature of your walk, but it is a lot to walk. If you are visiting with younger children, I highly recommend bringing a stroller or carrier. Our four year olds were old enough to walk to the train show, to the adventure garden, and back to the train stop but they slept really really well that night.
The Train Show
The Holiday Train Show was the main reason for our visit to the Botanical Gardens and was well worth the trip. If you are in the New York City area during the holidays I highly recommend a visit if you are at all interested in trains, architecture, or nature.
Our kids are HUGE train fans. We have played endlessly with trains at home and they have learned a lot through their play. Given their seemingly limitless enthusiasm for trains, finding train shows and train rides is natural for us. The train show at the Botanical Gardens was extra exciting because not only was it filled with amazing trains and tracks, but we also rode a train to and from Grand Central Station to get there!
(Our 25+ Ways to Play With Trains continues to be on of my top pins over a year later!)
We have been to other lovely Holiday Train Shows, but from the moment you step into the New York Botanical Gardens train show it is obvious that this is on a whole different level. The entire conservatory is filled with room after room of incredible landmarks, all recreated with natural materials, and G-scale trains zooming across tracks. It is dazzling.
We spent over an hour exploring and there were still details and corners I am sure we missed.
It should be noted that it was busy, but not overwhelming. I imagine Saturday mornings are more crowded, although they do limit the number of people allowed in the space at a time.
The train show is in the conservatory so it gets warm. Be prepared to shed some layers if it is cold outside.
*NOTE: Advanced Reservations are strongly recommended. You can buy tickets on their website.
The Children's Adventure Garden
From the moment you spy the rainbow colored streamers welcoming you into the Adventure Garden it is clear that this is a spot for kids. I was hugely impressed by this natural playspace and its carefully laid out corners. The space was thoughtfully planned and is engaging in the most natural way. It immediately inspired our twins to come play and they were not ready to leave when it was lunch time. If you live nearby (I am jealous) and I highly recommend buying a membership so you can frequent this delightful little corner of the world.
Overall, we all loved the New York Botanical Gardens. It is certainly worth a trip if you are visiting or a membership if you live nearby. What an incredible resource for education and beauty hidden in the busy city.
Other Similar Spots Around the US:
comments powered by Disqus