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.
#2: New York Botanical Garden
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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Aww! Your daughter looks so cute at the Botanical Gardens! 🙂
I’ve been to NYC approximately 4 times now, and I’ve never been to the Bronx. It looks like there is a lot to do there! Maybe one day I’ll make it…
Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Thank you! Yes, the Bronx has a lot going on, and because it’s a bit removed it has so much space for all these wonderful activities. I love this pic of my daughter too:). Thanks for reading!
I would LOVE to go to City Island-it sounds so cool! I’ve not heard of it but now that I’ve seen your photo’s and heard your description, is it featured in a few chick-flick films?? Seems so familiar!? #citytripping
Actually, City Island with Andy Garcia and Julianna Marguilles was shot here. But so were so many others, including the Groomsmen by Ed Burns, The Royal Tennanbaums, A Bronx Tale, the list goes on. Some just partially shot here or one or two scenes, but yes, you’ve seen it! Thanks for reading!
I thought so!
Corey this is amazing! I love all these activities. I watched the Yankees a few years.. ok a decade ago.. do they still do singing and dancing at the bottom of the 8th? (I think?). Hoping to visit NY next year so I’ll be bookmarking for sure. Will you cover Harlem also? 😉
Thanks Katy! At some point I’ll cover Harlem. It’s technically a part of Manhattan, but with Manhattan I decided to cover all the basics first for those first time goers. But I’ll be writing more posts on “off the beaten path” or “unusual finds” – those types of topics – at some point too. NYC is such a beast of a city it requires many posts!!
I’m really intrigued by City Island! I’ve just been to NYC and as it was the first trip for me, I stuck to Manhattan like a true tourist 🙂 I did manage a little side trip up Long Island though, and now I wish I’d been able to get out to the Bronx as well. Ah, I’ll just have to come back 🙂
Yes, come back! It’s impossible to do everything, impossible to do even a whole borough. Sounds nice that you were able to visit Long Island, especially during the summertime when it’s hot. Thanks for reading!
Wave Hill sounds really different to me, City Island would also be tempting for a bit of food and family time. Great tips yet again. When we go (hopefully next year) I’ll just raid your blog for ideas and inspiration.
Ha – thanks. And if you come next year, or whenever, def give a shout out!
The Bronx is really an area I would love to spend more time in. The public garden looks amazing, thank you for sharing:)
As always, thanks for reading:).
Been to NYC so many times but never made it to the Bronx – now I’m wondering why not!! Some great suggestions as always.
Thanks Joy – for your next visit:).
I’ve been looking forward to reading your tips on the ‘other’ NY boroughs – I’ve made it to Brooklyn as well as Manhattan but never the Bronx, and doubt I could have named much apart from the zoo. I have to say my daughter would adore that but I fancy City Island, which I had never heard of before. Wonderful! #citytripping
Thanks – yes City Island very neat. You really don’t feel like you’re in the city when you’re there..and super under the radar!
I had no idea Wave Hill existed and it looks stunning! I’ll definitely check it out the next time I’m in NYC x
Wave Hill is beautiful, you will love it. Thanks for reading!
I focused my first visit to NYC on Manhattan but hope to visit other boroughs during my next visit. Wave Hill looks beautiful. Thanks for sharing on #CityTripping
NYC requires so many visits, one borough at a time! Thanks for reading:).
You’re right, people do forget there’s more to NYC than Manhattan. I’d love to see the Yankees play…never been to a baseball match before and the zoo sounds spot on. Thanks for linking to #citytripping
As always, thanks for hosting!
I am excited about this post because I am visiting NYC soon. I want to visit at least four boroughs. My sister lives in the Bronx, so, I I am going to be there. I would like to visit Little Italy (which is bigger than the one in Manhattan) and the Botanical Gardens. Thanks for sharing your recommendations. #FarawayFiles
I think I remember you telling me you’re coming to NYC. Fun! Yes, definitely go to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx for some of the best Italian food around! Botanical Gardens beautiful. Enjoy.
I’ve been thinking about the lobster restaurant since I first read this post Corey! You’ve made me hungry again! #FarawayFiles
Such a great selection of things to do, Corey!
I’d love to do so many of the things on this list – I’d have to see a baseball match, eat lobster (yes please – it’s a very expensive treat in the UK), go to the Botanical Garden and Wave Hill. How lucky you are to have all this on your doorstep! Thanks so much for sharing on #FarawayFiles
Thanks Clare! 🙂
Thanks so much Clare – if this is a second reply my apologies – reception has been terrible and looks like my first reply back did not go through. x
I will admit I had no idea about how much the Bronx had to offer! I love that secret garden at Wave Hill and City Park sounds so different from bustle of Manhattan! I like the idea that a trip to NYC could offer more balance of both! Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin
Ive never been to wave hill (or the botanical garden!) I also love arthur avenue in the Bronx!
Wave Hill is amazing! beautiful.