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Who knew that the best place for basking in the splendor of changing fall foliage—or sniffing the sweetest summer blooms—was the Boogie Down Bronx? Wave Hill has the feel of a majestic estate, and for those of you looking for day trips from NYC, it's arguably the best country escape within the five-borough limits.
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• Take the Metro-North to Riverdale or the 1 to Van Cortlandt Park–242nd St. Wave Hill has shuttles that pick up visitors from both locations throughout the day (wavehill.org/visit/directions).
• Enter Wave Hill(W 249th St at Independence Ave, Bronx, 718-549-3200, wavehill.org); this 28-acre garden on the grounds of a 19th century country home still has the feel of a majestic estate. Public garden or secret home of the X-Men? You decide.
• Take in the colorful leaves of the Sweetgum and Tupelo trees in autumn, sniff the floral fragrances in spring and summer, or just get a good lungful of fresh air in winter.
• The garden’s Kerlin Overlook offers a postcard-worthy view of the foliage in the New Jersey Palisades.
• Stroll on the Abrons Woodland, a half-mile trail to spot birds and changing leaves in fall. Don’t skip a walk to see the dog-fennel–covered Elliptical Garden, grown on the remnants of the estate’s pool. If you’d like to see actual water, the formal pool at the Aquatic Garden has blooming water lilies.
• Although the overall garden is massive, the walks to each formal garden are relatively short. You can easily take in the entire thing in a morning, but why the rush? Feel free to picnic at Wave Hill's designated area with tables (sorry, you can’t just throw a blanket on the lawn) or dine al fresco with a side of scenic views at the café at Wave Hill on the patio.