The Queens Botanical Garden is a New York City treasure. Located in Flushing, Queens, the garden is spread across 39 acres consisting of a magnolia walk, a rose garden, a perennial garden, an herb garden, and even a garden dedicated to bees. There are plants in bloom in every season, and the garden does an excellent job of telling you exactly what to see regardless of the time of year.
From April through October, the garden is open Tuesday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (It's closed on Monday, except for Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day.) While the gardens are open until 6 p.m., the visitor building, gift shop, and gallery close at 5 p.m. daily.
Admission is $6 for adults; $4 for seniors and students; $2 for children over the age of 4, and free for children under three. The garden is also free every Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m. and on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Free hours are suspended during national holidays and festivals.
From November through March, the garden is open Tuesday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It's closed on Monday, except for Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day. The visitor building, gift shop, and gallery close at 4 p.m. daily. While it isn't as fun to visit during cold months, there is one perk: admission is free.
It's easy to get to the garden by public transportation. Take the 7 line on the subway or Long Island Rail Road (Port Washington line) to Main Street/Flushing. Then, take the Q44SBS or Q20A/B bus, or walk eight blocks south along Main Street.
The Queens Botanical Garden got its start during the 1939 World's Fair in Queens.
At that time, it was the five-acre Gardens on Parade, a horticultural exhibition. It was so popular that locals fought to save it, and in 1946 the official Queens Botanical Garden Society opened.
The exhibit remained in its original location, at the site of the World's Fair, until 1961. Needing more space, the garden moved to its current location on Main Street in Flushing. Visitors can still see some original plants from the exhibit including two blue atlas cedars that are planted at the Garden's main entrance.
Since then, the garden has slowly expanded by adding new gardens and rare plant varieties. In 2001, the Queens Botanical Garden Society published a plan for expansion and renovation, leading to a sustainable parking lot and a stunning LEED-certified administration building. The property is owned by the city of New York.
What to See and Do
The most important part of any visit to the Queens Botanical Garden is seeing what's in bloom each season. In January, for example, the Red Twig Dogwood is at its best. In June it's the Torch Lilly. Get a full guide here.
Regardless of what time of year you are visiting, a trip to the art gallery is a must. It's located in the visitor & administration building, and the exhibits change four times a year. Local artists make all the pieces, and they are inspired by everything you see outside.
The Annual Garden is also a crowd favorite. This is a specialty garden planted every year. There are always roses and other varieties mixed in to create a spectacular scene. There are secluded benches perfect for taking in nature or cuddling up with a loved one.
Adults will love participating in seasonal workshops on topics like composting and farming. In the summer, the garden hosts flower parties once a month with live music, artistic performances, food, and drink.
Where to Eat
Picnicking in the formal gardens is not allowed but picnicking is allowed in the Arboretum area. There are delis and shops along Flushing's main street, so pick up some food for the entire family and enjoy your time dining in the sun. Flushing is also known for its robust Chinatown, so if dim sum, noodles, or dumplings sound appealing, you're in for a treat.
Know Before You Go
The Queens Botanical Gardens has a few rules to make the space safe for everyone. Ball playing, sledding, kite flying, etc., are not allowed. You also can't pick the flowers or the plants or feed the wildlife. Smoking is a no-go as well.
The most important rule to follow is to help keep the garden clean and green. Place trash in the trash cans and recycling in the proper bins.