family fun at the new york botanical garden

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You don’t want to miss artist NYBG KUSAMA’s current installation: Cosmic Nature.

The 250-acre New York Botanical Garden is the largest botanical garden in the United States. It’s also an educational facility and teaching center, and a fun way to take a ‘forest dip’ in the heart of the Bronx, just 20 minutes by subway. North of Grand Central Terminal. NYBG was founded in 1891 and today has over a million plants, spread across 50 gardens and collections.

Must-see exhibits at the New York Botanical Garden

Permanent features at NYBG

You can hike through an old growth forest and get a glimpse of what once covered the entire region. You can climb a 14,000 year old rock, while your child can try to squeeze through. Everyone can and should stop to smell the many roses blooming in the eponymous garden.

the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory looks like a “glass palace”, according to a young visitor. The historic glass building is divided into 11 different zones or regions, from the thorny cacti of the American Southwest to the lush verdant leaves of the Palms of the World gallery. NYBG’s outdoor gardens are a blend of neat landscaping and wild, native growth.

A must for families is the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden. The fun begins at the entrance, when children walk past several vertical banners. Within the 12 acres are a playhouse, maze, discovery center (with hands-on activities), and a pond filled with water lilies. Go on a self-directed scavenger hunt or plan your weekend visit to see a reading aloud or a performance.

KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature

While NYBG is an entertaining adventure year round, currently showing are works by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (until October 31). One of the world’s most famous artists, Kusama was born in Japan in 1929. Her work is whimsical and accessible, relying heavily on primary colors and polka dots, bringing a playful and exuberant spirit to paintings, sculptures and installations. – and love of pumpkins – at NYBG. It’s a hard hearted that won’t smile at an old tree wrapped in shiny red and white fabric, for example, or a plump, shiny pumpkin sitting motionless among sumptuous foliage. A mix of old and new works, Kusama’s art feels tailor-made for the present moment, as the city begins to wake up after the pandemic.

kusama cosmic nature new york botanical garden
A young visitor admires “I Want to Fly to the Universe”, an installation that is part of KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature; photo by Garrett Ziegler

Children of all ages react to the joy that reigns in Kusama’s work, but they will especially enjoy frolicking under the “Dancing Pumpkin” (2020) in front of the conservatory and posing near the vibrant “I Want to Fly to the Universe” (2020). The signage, with quotes from Kusama, helps enrich the experience: “Forget yourself and become one with nature! Obliterate yourself with peas! This sincere belief in the power of art and nature will affect even the most cynical teenagers.

You might find yourself talking about physics and / or eternity, thanks to the installation “Pumpkins Screaming About Love Beyond Infinity” (2017). Visitors enter a dark room, in the center of which is a box filled with pumpkins of varying sizes that gradually light up. The box is lined with one-way mirrors, so the pumpkins seem to stretch out in all directions forever. Starting in August, NYBG will present an all-new ‘Infinity Mirrored Room – Illusion Inside the Heart’ (2020), an immersive installation in which visitors can see themselves alongside pumpkins. (Special tickets will be required.)

Temporary exhibitions at the New York Botanical Garden

Mark your calendar for these two temporary exhibitions:

Directory Holiday train show features miniature trains gliding past New York City landmarks made from twigs, leaves, seeds, and other plants. Typically, the New York Botanical Garden train show begins around Thanksgiving and runs for a week or two in January.

new york botanical garden train show
The Holiday Train Show presents reconstructions of New York landmarks in natural materials; photo by Garrett Ziegler.

Postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Orchid show looks bigger and better when it returns in spring 2022. The annual exhibition features – you guessed it – orchids, in all their delicate luminosity.

What are the New York Botanical Garden’s COVID guidelines?

The New York Botanical Garden is open to the public with a variety of COVID-19 safety precautions, including face masks for all visitors (regardless of vaccine status), timed tickets, social distancing, and ability to reduced visitor, as well as frequent cleaning and disinfectants.

New York Botanical Garden Tour

Where is NYBG located?

The New York Botanical Garden is located at 2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx. In addition to the main entrance, NYBG has three other public entrances:

What are NYBG’s opening hours?

The New York Botanical Garden is open Tuesday through Sunday and Monday statutory holidays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Saturdays in May and June, the garden is open until 9 p.m.

How can I get to NYBG?

You can get to NYBG by car, take public transportation, or ride a bike.

North metro: Take the local Metro-North Harlem line to Botanical Garden station, located directly opposite the Mosholu entrance to the garden. To see the MTA website for timetables and maps, and note that the exact fares depend on when you are traveling.

As a participant in Metro-North New York City Getaways program, NYBG offers discounts on the Garden Pass and train tickets, including savings of up to 20% on tickets.

Subway: Take the B, D or 4 train to Bedford Park Blvd. station. From the station exit, take the Bx26 bus east to the Mosholu entrance to the garden. Alternatively, you can walk eight blocks down the hill on Bedford Park Boulevard (about 20 minutes). Turn left on Southern Boulevard and walk one block to the Mosholu entrance.

Take train 2 to Allerton Ave station. From the station exit, walk three blocks west on Allerton Avenue. Turn left on Bronx Park East and walk two blocks to Waring Avenue. At the entrance to the park, go up the small hill leading directly to the east gate of the garden (daytime access only).

Please Note: East Gate is open during normal NYBG daytime hours. Use the Mosholu entrance to access the evening events.

NYBG also offers free bike racks at all entrance gates. However, cycling is not allowed inside the park.

Is there parking at NYBG?

Yes! Parking costs $ 20 per vehicle. However, parking is free for active members of support level and above with a valid parking pass.

Enter through the main entrance at 2900 Southern Blvd. for on-site parking. During peak hours, vehicles may park on the off-site lot, located at 401 Bedford Park Blvd. (near the Mosholu entrance).

How much do New York Botanical Garden tickets cost?

Advance ticket reservations are required. All visitors must have mobile or printed timed entry tickets for admission. Tickets are available for online reservations in installments.

Note that there is a different pricing structure depending on whether you have access to the grounds and galleries and are a New York resident. Proof of residency is required.

  • KUSAMA garden and gallery pass: $ 35; $ 32 seniors and students (with valid ID); $ 15 for children 2 to 12 years old; free for children under 2 years old.
  • KUSAMA Garden Pass: Residents: $ 15; $ 7 seniors and students (with valid ID); $ 4 for children 2 to 12 years old; free for children under 2 years old. Non-residents of New York: $ 25; $ 22 seniors and students (with valid ID); $ 12 for children 2 to 12 years old; free for children under 2 years old

Can I become a NYBG member?

Absolutely! The garden offers several levels of annual subscription options, all of which include unlimited admission for one year, special discounts, member previews, reciprocal benefits at over 300 gardens across North America, and more. The family membership includes free entry and other benefits for 2 adults and up to 5 children (16 years or under), as well as 2 free passes for members.

Is NYBG accessible?

Wheelchair loans are available. Due to the terrain, some parts of the NYBG are not accessible. However, NYGB buildings and tour vehicles are accessible. To see the NYBG Accessibility Card for more details.

What other family attractions are near NYBG?

The Bronx Zoo, the city’s largest zoo, is within walking distance. Also nearby is historic Arthur Avenue (sometimes called New York’s ‘Other Little Italy’), home to ice cream, pizza, mozzarella, and more.

Is NYBG on social media?

The New York Botanical Garden is on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube.

For more information visit nybg.org, or call 718-817-8700.

Main photo by Garrett Ziegler


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