Skyscrapers and busy streets might define NYC, but there are many opportunities to get in tune with nature in this buzzing metropolis (no, we're not joking).
Outdoor oases across the five boroughs are prime locations for kids' gardening. Youngsters should grab their gloves and shovels—there are plants in need of a little TLC.
Thanks to beloved children's gardens throughout New York, little ones have a chance to explore different plants, participate in workshops and enjoy fun family-friendly activities.
What are you waiting for? It's time to get digging!
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to outdoor activities for kids in NYC
Staying in town this summer? Head to the most delicious outdoor restaurants NYC has to offer, make a pit stop at these kids' playgrounds or—if you're up for a quick trip—explore the best places to go strawberry picking in New York.
Get kids gardening with these cool children's gardens
Make your way through the wooded trails, rose gardens and Japanese hill-and-pond garden, then head to NYBG's Discovery Garden for a whole host of family-friendly activities. Kids get to roam the grassy paths and raised boardwalks, scale split logs and boulders and peek at native plants like butterfly milkweed and lady-slipper orchid in meadow, woodland and marsh habitats. Programming such as Family Discovery Weekends, Kids' Discovery Stations and Fire Discoveries for Toddlers help youngsters learn about the different ecosystems and plants via scientific investigations.
Everyone needs a few hours of calm now and then—kids included—and you'd be hard-pressed to find a more serene spot within city limits than Wave Hill. The sprawling grounds perched above the Hudson boast 28 acres of public gadens, woodlands and lawns to wander. You’ll find an elegant 19th-century mansion surrounded by meticulously groomed gardens, featuring abundant wildflowers and shady pergolas. Jump in on nature walks, story times and family art projects, often led by local artists and usually free with grounds admission.
Nestled on the New York Botanical Garden’s 250-acre expanse, this just-for-kids garden hosts family programs that educate kids on our connection to nature, while the newly renovated Edible Academy teaches them about gardening and healthy living through workshops, camps and after-school programs. Wander through Beth’s Maze, invent your own plant in Plant Part Paradise and, from spring through the end of autumn, get in on Dig! Plant! Grow! gardening workshops. Those who join the Children’s Gardening Program get to nurture their very own plot to grow flowers and veggies.
This charming bird sanctuary and Victorian-style garden, maintained by the same family for more than a century, aspires to preserve the cultural heritage of Flushing, Queens. The scenic grounds make a lovely stroll any day, but Storybook Discovery Days are designed especially for the younger crowd to enjoy. Grown-ups can take in the bucolic surroundings while their tots explore their creative side and relax with stories, while surrounded by flowers and butterflies.
The serene space in Queens consists of 25 gardens, one of which is dedicated to youngsters. During summer and fall, the space hosts gardening sessions that invite kids to observe nature by planting seeds, harvesting vegetables and even cooking up tasty dishes with the fresh produce, including lettuce, spinach and peas. Elsewhere on the grounds, kids can use their olfactory sense on the Fragrance Walk and make a stop at the Bee Garden.
In warm weather, this lovingly tended Greenwich Village garden is open to the public on weekends and some weekday afternoons. Maintained by a volunteer crew of neighbors, the lush oasis next door to the gorgeous Victorian Gothic Jefferson Market Library is a nature-filled treat for the whole family. Spend a quiet afternoon with the kids, exploring the koi pond, searching for water lilies and sitting under the shade of the unique trees.
This urban farming cooperative grows edible plants to help teach tots about their food sources and experiment with nature through gardening. Kids will have a blast exploring the onsite butterfly garden, strawberry patch, herb boxes and greenhouse, plus playing on the kiddie slide and in the swimming pool. The garden provides a peaceful place for seasonal community events, free children’s writing workshops (ages 6–8) and morning play dates.
The 19th-century Snug Harbor Cultural Center sits on 83-acres of blooming landscape for families to explore. Little ones will love wandering through the maze of hedges, winding past various plantings along the way. In the middle, visitors are rewarded with beautiful flowers inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic children’s book, The Secret Garden. Don’t miss out on exhibits, educational programs and other exciting activities!
The Urban Farm at Randall's Island serves as an outdoor educational center for NYC kiddos (and adults, too). The environmentally-sustainable grounds offer an Edible Education Program, Exploration Days and other seasonal events that explore healthy eating and making the community a greener place.
This Red Hook venue aims to empower teens by way of urban farming and food justice non-profit work. Young adults are hired and mentored thorughout the year as the organization runs its farmers' market, children's programs and compost operation.