Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Top choice in New York City

Japanese Hill and Pond Garden.

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Opened in 1911 and now one of Brooklyn's most picturesque sights, this 52-acre garden is home to thousands of plants and trees and a Japanese garden where river turtles swim alongside a Shinto shrine. The best times to visit are late April or early May, when the blooming cherry trees (a gift from Japan) are celebrated in Sakura Matsuri (the Cherry-Blossom Festival), or fall, when the deciduous trees blaze their colours.

A network of trails runs throughout the gardens, connecting popular sections devoted to native flora, bonsai trees, a wood covered in bluebells and a rose garden. The Discovery Garden is a hands-on, immersive space for kids, with regular family activities. There's also a good cafe (with outdoor seating, of course).

There are three entrances; the most convenient one is immediately west of the Brooklyn Museum. The Washington Ave entrance around the corner (at President St) leads to a striking eco-designed visitor center with a 'living roof' covered in a thriving diversity of plants. It's also possible to enter just north of Prospect Park subway station (corner of Empire Blvd and Flatbush Ave).