New York Botanical Garden. Photo: Tagger Yancey IV
While it’s well-known as the home of hip-hop and the New York Yankees, the Bronx also has art deco masterpieces and literary landmarks, wide-open green spaces and even a nautical neighborhood with fishing-village charm.
Take in the grandeur and fan-fueled energy of Yankee Stadium, home to the 27-time World Series champions. The franchise’s history is on full display throughout the stadium, including out in center field, where retired numbers and plaques in Monument Park honor the team’s greatest players. If you have a young baseball fan, bring a mitt for a chance to throw the ball around on the Macombs Dam Park fields next to the stadium, which are built on the site of the original “House That Ruth Built.” Parking lots line the streets leading up to the stadium. For a budget-friendly option that drops you off right in front, take the train.
Save on sports tickets at AAA.com/Tickets.
Bronx Zoo. Photo: Julie Larsen Maher
At America’s largest metropolitan zoo, visitors can see Asian elephants, gorillas, tigers, grizzly bears and the denizens of a beautiful butterfly garden, among hundreds of other species. General admission is free (and admission to special exhibits reduced) on Wednesdays, although advance timed tickets are required. For additional fees, you can do other fun things at the zoo such as renting a cart tour for groups of up to six, climbing and zip lining at Treetop Adventure and enjoying private encounters with a penguin, giraffe, sloth or other favorite animal.
Save up to 20% on tickets with AAA discount.
Courtesy, New York Botanical Garden. Photo: Marlon Co
Spend the day enjoying the lush scenery at the New York Botanical Garden. From an edible garden to the Rockefeller Rose Garden, each area and trail features a spectacular display of flowers and greenery. Two on-site restaurants and a picnic pavilion can help you make a day of it, while guided tours, art exhibits and family-friendly activities are regularly available.
Save up to 20% on garden passes with AAA discount.
The lesser-known Wave Hill public garden and cultural center is equally impressive. Located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, it overlooks the Hudson River and is easily accessible by car or public transportation. Come and get inspired by the immaculate grounds, art displays and year-round tropical blooms in the conservatory greenhouses. On-site and nearby parking are available.
Arthur Avenue. Photo: Vincent Tullo
After a day at the Bronx Zoo or the New York Botanical Garden, Arthur Avenue in the borough’s Belmont neighborhood makes a great dinner stop. The Little Italy of the Bronx offers fresh foods at every turn: homemade pasta and pastries, pizza and espresso, along with old-school butcher shops and fish markets, plus traditional red-sauce restaurants.
Summer through fall, on Thursdays through Saturdays from 6pm to 10pm and Sundays from 1pm to 9pm, part of Arthur Avenue is closed off to traffic. The stretch from East 188th Street to Crescent Avenue transforms into “Piazza di Belmont” for outdoor dining and strolling.
Stop into the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, an indoor bazaar that serves as the permanent home for what were once pushcart street vendors selling sausages, cheeses, fresh fruit, cigars and more. Mike’s Deli is a fixture at the market; order a sandwich like the Michelangelo, a fresh mozzarella and prosciutto “work of art,” and people-watch.
NYC is rightly known for hip-hop, but the Bronx is its birthplace. Hush Hip Hop Tours offers walking and bus tours throughout the boroughs, highlighting sites significant to the inception and growth of hip-hop music and culture. Journey through the history of DJ-ing, MC-ing, break dancing and graffiti, set to a classic soundtrack. Stops on the Boogie Down Bronx Tour include famous murals, the Bronx Walk of Fame and the landmark location where DJ Kool Herc hosted the first hip-hop party in 1973.
Grand Concourse. Photo: Joe Buglewicz
When driving through the South Bronx, the Grand Concourse thoroughfare, running from 138th Street up to Mosholu Parkway, provides a wide view of the borough’s history and culture. Stop for a stroll through the historic district between 153rd and 167th streets, where you can spot structures that are part of the nation’s largest collection of art deco and art moderne apartment buildings. Look out for the famous Fish Building, at 1150 Grand Concourse, with its colorful marine-life mosaics. At 1040 Grand Concourse, the Bronx Museum of the Arts specializes in contemporary works from artists of diverse cultural backgrounds; admission is free but requires advance timed tickets.
Sitting on the Long Island sound with views overlooking City Island, Orchard Beach was called “The Riviera of New York” when it was first introduced in the 1930s. It is the Bronx’s only public beach. Soak in the sun, walk on the promenade and stop by a snack stand, or play on one of the 26 courts for basketball, volleyball and handball.
During beach season, parking is $8 on Mondays through Fridays for cars and vans, and $10 on weekends and holidays. A senior citizen discount is available on weekdays with valid ID.
City Island. Photo: Alex Lopez
Pelham Bay Park and City Island are two appealing spots at the northern end of NYC.
At more than 2,700 acres—three times the size of Central Park—Pelham Bay Park is New York City’s largest park. Highlights include an 18-hole golf course, mini-golf course, equestrian center, tennis courts and Orchard Beach, and you can tour its opulent Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, an 1842 estate once used as a summer home for Mayor LaGuardia.
City Island is a charming nautical village with a laid-back vibe that’s especially sought-after in the summer; it’s filled with yacht clubs and seafood restaurants on or near the water and offers opportunities for scuba diving. On land, spend your day perusing the galleries and antique shops. Set aside some time to explore the village’s maritime roots at the City Island Nautical Museum (free, weekend afternoons only).
Visitors on their way to City Island must pass through Pelham Bay Park (about a five-minute drive). There are several nearby parking garages to Pelham Bay Park and street parking in City Island.
Poe Park is named after famous American author Edgar Allan Poe, who rented its white farmhouse, now known as Poe Cottage. Built in 1812, it is where Poe wrote “The Bells,” “Eureka” and “Annabel Lee.” The cottage has been restored to its original appearance; you can only admire the exterior at the moment (tours are currently on hold). The Poe Park Visitor Center carries on the legacy of the poet as an art and exhibition space, offering cultural and educational programming, as well as visual, literary and performance workshops for the community. The center is usually open on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8am to 5pm and, for now, is conducting all its programs outdoors in the park.
This 1,146-acre park boasts one of the nation’s first public golf courses, the Van Cortlandt Golf Course, opened in 1895, as well as the nine-hole Mosholu Golf Course, which debuted around 20 years later. Beyond golf, the park has playgrounds and picnic spots and is a city hot spot for watching cricket.
The Van Cortlandt House Museum, built in 1748 for a prominent New York family, is the oldest building in the Bronx. The mansion and surrounding grounds, once a wheat plantation, provide history buffs with a glimpse into 18th-century life, art and the experiences of the people who lived and worked there.