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Hudson River Park is a huge open space stretching from Pier 97 to Battery Park City, replete with grassy expanses, paths, and fields. You can fish, swim, relax, run and walk your dogs in the designated areas, or just enjoy refreshments or sit and read a book. This is the perfect place to spend your day with your family, or to enjoy a little walk or jog after work to relax.
This small but beautiful botanic garden features a Japanese garden, as well as the Cranford Rose Garden, herb garden, the Children's Garden, and the Steinhard Conservatory of indoor flowers and plants. In all, there are 52 acres and 12,000 varieties of botanicals, ranging from the tiny bonsai to the towering oak. Self-guided tours, individual classes and certificate programs are all available. Students come with your valid id cards, if you want to avail of a discount.
The stellar zoo located within the sprawling Central Park is one of the most recognized wildlife attractions in the city. Part of a network of four zoos within the city, Central Park Zoo adheres strictly to sustainable and environmentally friendly practices apart from boasting great facilities for the animals. Animal cages have been removed, in favor of open-air habitats. In the Polar Circle, glass walls allow you to see penguins and polar bears swimming just inches from your face.
The New York Hall of Science is an interactive museum geared towards children. The Space Pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair took place here, but now it houses more than 160 exhibits detailing the history and evolution of science and technology. A highlight is the outdoor Science Playground, a park filled with interactive games and displays. Fictional characters and scientific arts and crafts are used extensively much to the delight of the little ones here.
This is a great place to go with younger children. It is a small zoo with a large variety of animals and one of the largest reptile collections around. It also has a petting zoo that young children will love. The Staten Island Zoo is cash only.
Established in 1968 as the Flushing Meadow Zoo, Queens Zoo was the first menagerie of Queens. It was rechristened to its present name in 1992. Managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society, it spans 18 acres (7.3 hectares) and is home to over 75 species, indigenous to the Western Hemisphere. Stroll through their animal trail to see huge bison, Andean bear, Canadian lynx, Southern pudu (the smallest dear you will ever get to see), puma, pronghorn and more in natural enclosures. The aviary with its winding walkway is a spherical dome designed by Buckminster Fuller for the 1964 World's Fair. Check out the Waterfowl Marsh and Sea Lion Pool for some marine life action. Not to miss out is the Discovery Center replete with fossil displays, a microscope, crafts station and a library to know all about these animals. Get to know about conservation through their interactive stations throughout the zoo. Whether it is an educational trip or a family outing, you are sure to be enthralled by the animals displayed at this zoo.
Spanning 9155 acres (3705 hectares), the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is the only wildlife sanctuary run by the National Park Service. This seaside estuary is arguably the best place in New York City for bird watchers to get a glimpse of over 330 migratory avian species nesting here. Its diverse ecosystem with its wetlands, salt marshes, freshwater and briny ponds, fields, dunes and woodland is home to an amazing variety of native amphibians, reptiles and small mammals. You will also find more than 60 kinds of butterflies and the largest horseshoe crab population in the state at the park. The sanctuary offers hikes, boat trips, sunset tours and more that are not only educational but also make for a fantastic outing amidst nature in the city. You will need a walking permit to stroll through the trails which is available for free at the visitor center. You can also hang around the Visitor Contact Station and check their remarkable exhibits of this place. The center is the starting point of all the guided tours and activities. Don't miss this wonderful haven of natural beauty if you are a wildlife enthusiast.
The Bronx Zoo is the largest urban zoo in the United States. It houses thousands of animals, ranging from lions and monkeys to sea lions and sloths. The Congo exhibit features lowland gorillas, pythons and other central African animals. A modern zoo, it places animals into re-creations of their own ecosystems. Also, a plethora of activities held at the zoo provide an educating and entertaining experience for adults as well as children. Admission prices vary according to season, so check the website for details.
Covering 250 acres (101 hectares), the New York Botanical Garden is a blend of rocks, waterfalls, hills, rivers, woods, ponds, plants, and of course, flowers. The property is beautiful and a National Landmark and includes an interactive area for children. The restored Enid A. Haupt Conservatory is a Victorian-era greenhouse. Don't forget to visit the Shop in the Garden - a store which offers a wide range of goods, from books and garden products to jewelry and body products. Admission prices are higher during peak season, so check the website for details. For those interested in fresh fruits and vegetables, the garden hosts a farmer's market from June through November each year.
The Alley Pond Park is among the top two largest public parks in the borough of Queens. It also gives a fascinating insight of the state's geological history. Alley Pond Environmental Center (APEC) was formed in the 1970s to conserve this natural gem through educational outings, programs and classes for kids and adults alike. Set in the northern part of the park, overlooking the Little Neck Bay, this center organizes field trips and workshops that are not only informational, but will also make you fall in love with nature and appreciate environmental practices. Explore the forested areas, water bodies and meadows to get to know the wildlife, distinct natural features and diverse ecosystem.
Located on 28 acres (11 hectares) of beautiful gardens and woodlands, this non-profit cultural institution overlooks the Hudson River. Wave Hill is dedicated to exploring the interaction between human beings and the natural environment. It maintains four historic buildings and five greenhouses and has won many awards for its gardens. Its Arts Program presents the work of contemporary artists and landscape professionals. Partake in educational, horticultural and art programs that are held at the cultural center from time to time. Come enjoy the feast of nature in its own arms.
This 47-acre site, parts of which are over 200 years old, is a working farm that grows produce and houses livestock. It is hard to believe that a place like this exists in New York City, but there it is. The farm hosts a yearly children's festival and apple festival, and there is a picnic area on the premises. There are also regular tours of the farm and its history, and a variety of educational programs. Admission is free.