Founded in 1910, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a 52-acre urban wonderland housing more than 14,000 taxa of plants. The expansive estate comprises over 15 gardens and a conservatory, altogether being able to support a vast range of plant environments, from desert shrubs to cherry blossoms. The property is so big you might even want to plot out your must-see exhibits in advance. Otherwise, you can see the Brooklyn Botanic Garden while attending one of its annual events.
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is open year-round and each season has its very own star exhibits. Spring beckons a stroll through the historic Cherry Esplanade, where more than 200 cherry blossoms from more than 40 Asian species bloom in April. This is one of the most impressive displays of cherry blossoms outside of Japan. The peaceful, 100-year-old Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden—one of the first of its kind in the United States—is a popular area of the park this time of year, too. Its shrines, stone lanterns, wooden bridges, and koi fish pond make for a zen experience.
During the summer—usually in June—tens of thousands of flowers bloom at once. This is peak visitation time for Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The Cranford Rose Garden, which was introduced in 1928, is a local favorite. Even in the winter, you'll find plenty of life in the Steinhardt Conservatory Gallery, where the Desert Pavilion evokes memories of warmer times.
In case you needed a reason to visit this botanical oasis, its annual events are the perfect excuse. In April, people flock from all boroughs and beyond to see the cherry blossoms during a month-long festival called Hanami. It kicks off with a weekend of celebration, Sakura Matsuri, which pays tribute to Japanese culture with traditional dance performances and other events.
In late September, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden hosts its annual Chile Pepper Festival, a one-day event that celebrates the almighty chili pepper with music, food, and festivities. This is followed by a fall festival, Harvest Homecoming, when the garden turns its spotlight toward autumnal foliage and seasonal treats (apple cider, namely). Kids are encouraged to come (in costume) for carnival games.
During any given week throughout the year, though, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden hosts regular gatherings such as yoga, lectures, gardening classes, and more. Check the calendar for a complete rundown.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden With Kids
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden can be fun for little ones, too. In fact, some exhibits cater specifically to youths. The Children's Garden, for instance, acts as a community garden where kids can learn about the process and grow their own flowers and vegetables within the garden's 1-acre plot (the Brooklyn Botanic Garden divvies this up between hundreds of kids every year). There's also an active compost here.
In the Discovery Garden, kids can interact with the natural world through hands-on activities and educational exhibits. This one is geared toward very young children. Check the schedule for classes (pre-registration required) and drop-in events for children and families. Strollers are permitted on the grounds and in the Visitor Center, but not in the Steinhardt Conservatory Gallery or Garden Shop.
How to Visit
The garden is open year-round with summer and cherry blossom season being the busiest times. Brooklyn Botanic Garden is closed on Mondays and major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day), but is open Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission costs $18 for adults. Members and children under 12 get in free. There are also special free admission days, such as any weekday from December through February and Fridays before noon March through November.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden has three entrances—at 150 Eastern Parkway, 455 Flatbush Avenue, and 990 Washington Avenue—all highly accessible via subway. Take the 2/3 Eastern Parkway—Brooklyn Museum, the B/Q to Prospect Park, or the 4/5 to Franklin Avenue. The Metro-North Railroad also stops right outside the entrance. If you prefer to drive yourself, parking is available starting at $7 for the first hour ($32 for the day) at 900 Washington Avenue.
Keep in mind that no outside food is permitted into the gardens. Visitors may pick up a sandwich or salad at the casual coffee bar or for a more formal meal, head to Yellow Magnolia Cafe. Picnicking and barbecuing are forbidden—in fact, the Cherry Esplanade is the only place where visitors are allowed to sit on the lawn.
After enjoying a morning at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, you can head next door to the Brooklyn Museum, relax on the lawn at nearby Prospect Park, shop and dine in the hip neighborhood of Prospect Heights, or peruse the Saturday farmer's market at Grand Army Plaza.