When people think of visiting or vacationing in New York City, usually the term New York is synonymous with Manhattan. That’s where Times Square and Broadway are after all, not to mention the Statue of Liberty and Central Park. So many of the city’s big attractions are located in Manhattan, and indeed it is a fascinating place to visit.
But Manhattan is one of five boroughs, and just a part of the puzzle that makes up New York City. There are four other wonderful boroughs that deserve exploring as well. One of our favorites is the Bronx. Home to the Bronx Zoo of course – one of NYC’s most visited attractions – but there are also some other really great gems in this part of the city. Here are fifi + hop’s.
Top 5 Family Attractions in the Bronx
#1: The Bronx Zoo
While vacationing in New York City, people come from far and wide to visit this zoo, and we feel fortunate to live so closeby (it’s a 20 minute drive from our home). One of the largest zoos in the world, and the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States, it is located in Bronx Park and occupies 265 acres of land. It’s famous for its wide mix of animals as well as its fabulous exhibitions. Think Congo Gorilla Forest (our personal favorite), African Plains, Baboon Reserve, Madagascar, and World of Reptiles, among so many more. It really is a spectacle of a zoo, and you can spend an entire day wandering about. It also has a 4-D Theater, Bug Carousel, Camel Rides, Penguin Feedings, and a Wild Asia Monorail (which is perfect for resting those tired feet), as well as special events throughout the year. We love the Bronx Zoo for all that it offers.
A National Historic Landmark, the 250-acre botanical garden occupies over one million living plants and flowers in an array of exhibitions and gardens. From the Rose Garden to the Water Lilies and Lotuses to the Magnolias to the famous Orchid Collection there is something for everyone. Don’t miss the Children’s Adventure Garden, chock-full of fun things for the kids to do, such as climbing boulders, wandering through mazes and learning about botanicals through the various activities they have on site. My girls absolutely adore this garden, and it’s a great way to break up your visit from some of the other gardens, which may not be quite as exciting for them.
Overall, the New York Botanical Garden is big, so make sure to check out the Tram, which can take you from garden to garden. It’s a great way to see most of the gardens, which would otherwise be too much for the kids to walk through. Note, if you are visiting during holiday season, be sure to see the Holiday Train Show, and book tickets on-line in advance!
#3: Wave Hill
One of New York City’s gems, I can’t say enough about this almost secret spot set atop the Hudson River. A 28-acre public garden and cultural center, it has beautifully arranged gardens and lawns, woodland trails, a conservatory and two houses for cultural programs and art exhibits. It is perched up high with wonderful views of the Hudson and Palisades. Visiting Wave Hill feels like you’ve left the city and entered the book the Secret Garden. There is something magical about this little corner of the city, and we try to visit it a few times a year. Especially with their Family Art Project on Saturdays and Sundays, a fabulous art program for children.
#4: Yankee Stadium
A post on the Bronx is not complete without including Yankee Stadium! Home to the Major League baseball team the New York Yankees, watching a ball game here is not only quintessential New York, but quintessential Americana. Bring the kids for a game, get a hot dog and pretzel and feel like a true New Yorker. You will love the energy of being at a baseball game in New York, and the kids will too.
#5: City Island
For whatever reason I find City Island fascinating. Maybe that it’s only a mile and a half long and half a mile wide island with a vibrant boating community on the Long Island Sound, but still technically part of New York City. Maybe it’s the variety of homes and architecture, from bungalows to beach shack-style homes to large, stately Victorians to old-world mansions. Maybe it’s the plethora of seafood restaurants, some with waterfront dining that makes you feel like you’re more on a Cape Cod get-away than a city day-trip visit. Maybe it’s the combination. Either way, when you cross the one lane bridge (don’t go too late in the day, as traffic builds up), you’ve entered another world, leaving the skyscrapers of New York behind you.
With pretty sound views, good food (we like the Lobster House, plus there is Artie’s, Sammy’s Shrimp Box, The Black Whale), a playground at Ambrosini Field, ice cream at old-school Lickety Split, or a visit to the City Island Nautical Museum, there’s no denying that a trip to City Island is about as a unique experience you’re going to get in New York City. For a list of City Island restaurants, view here.
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