Fall colors at New York Botanical Gardens
Guide to NYC Things to Do

Gardening Across NYC: What to See This Fall

October 19, 2018

Aah, fall in New York: the glorious time of year when the sweltering heat of summer gives way to cool, crisp air, cityscapes of gold and russet, cardigans and flannels, fall festivals, and haunted houses. It’s a time when spirits are reinvigorated, when folks are ready to be outdoors, to explore what the city in the fall has planned. While there is no shortage of autumn activities throughout the five boroughs, there is one scene which may not have come to the forefront of your mind, but which delightfully completes a fall itinerary: NYC botanical gardens. We’ve gathered a list of the best botanical gardens across the boroughs, along with what you can expect therein to charm and enchant you.

Colorful leaves during the fall at New York Botanical Garden | LivingIn

Image via www.nybg.org

New York Botanical Garden

2900 Southern Blvd
Bronx, NY, 10458

The largest botanical garden in any US city, the New York Botanical Garden is touted as one of the greatest in the world. It wears many hats, including living museum, educational institution, and plant research and conservation organization, offering something for everyone. If you’re an educator, consider taking your students there on a field trip for one of the Garden’s hands-on, interactive workshops. If you’re a gardener or a foodie, spend some time at the Garden’s Edible Academy to learn edible and organic gardening, or enjoy a healthy, garden-to-table cooking demonstration. And all through the fall, the NYBG offers activities for families and individuals alike, from the Spooky Pumpkin Garden (Sept 22 – Oct 31) to the Sustainability Summit 2018 (Nov 1). One display not to miss: the Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawai’i exhibit, featuring the artist’s little-known depictions of Hawai’i, accompanied by the flowers and plants that inspired them (through Oct 28).

Colorful fall foliage at Brooklyn Botanic Garden | LivingIn

Image via www.bbg.org

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

990 Washington Ave
Brooklyn, NY, 11225

A quick peruse through any botanical garden website makes it clear how kid-forward they are, and in this regard, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden rises to the top. From First Discoveries for Toddlers to Children’s Garden Classes to the Garden Apprentice Program for teens, and a plethora of programs and events in-between (like Garden Storytime in the Discovery Garden), the BBG has got your budding horticulturist covered. But, far from being a kid-only zone, these activities are only in addition to the abundance of adult programs the BBG has to offer, from classes as varied as Floral Design and Birding, to Certificates in Urban Gardener and Master Composter. Part of the mission of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is to inspire an appreciation and sense of stewardship of the environment, and their array of hands-on programs are the means to this goal. Check out the upcoming Ghouls & Gourds festival (Oct 27), where, yes, there will be caterpillar feedings, or the multimedia exhibit, Pondlife, where you can finally explore the magnified life of microbes (through March 2019).

Image via www.queensbotanical.org

Queens Botanical Garden

43-50 Main St
Flushing, NY, 11355

It’s that time of year again: time to get a pumpkin. This year, why not get yours at a living museum, a place of flourishing gardens and nature-inspired art, a non-profit organization where the purchase of your pumpkin supports environmental stewardship, conservation, and education? But let’s not forget, it’s also a place where you can have a good time. The Queens Botanical Garden is back with its popular Pumpkin Patch, where you and your family or friends can choose a three-hour window to pick a pumpkin for carving and snap some fall photos. This event occurs every weekend in October, and on select days it’s accompanied by live entertainment and seasonal food vendors. But pumpkins aren’t the only appeal in this patch. The QBG has ongoing events and programs all fall long, for both kids and adults, including Farm and Compost Volunteer Opportunities, Farmers Market Fridays, Bird Walks with NYC Audubon, and Evening Cocktail & Craft events. November’s event is the Terrarium Open Bar (Nov 15), an evening of autumnal cocktails and miniature world creations of tiny plants and decor.

No compilation of NYC botanical gardens would be complete without a mention of Staten Island’s impressive Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, or of the Zen Garden in Brooklyn’s Narrows Botanical Garden, or of the Bronx’s beautiful and serene Wave Hill. Indeed, this list is nowhere near complete. But, hopefully, it whets your appetite for a different kind of wild in the city, especially in a season celebrated for its freshness and foliage.    

When you’re done exploring NYC’s botanical gardens for a weekend, it’s time to plan your next fall weekend trip! Check out our guide for grape lovers where you’ll find a list of local wineries worth an autumn visit, and read our local apple orchard recommendations for the perfect weekend trip to enjoy the fall season with family or friends.

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