Spring might be the best time of year in New York City, but it’s also the time when Central Park, the High Line, and the Botanic Gardens all swarm with tourists. If you want to appreciate NYC in full bloom, but don’t want to deal with crowds, here are the places you should go:
1. Prospect Park
Prospect Park is home to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, which can get crowded during blooming season, but you don’t even need to go into the Botanical Garden to find what you’re looking for. Longmeadow, on the north side of Prospect Park, has magnolia and dogwood trees, lilacs, and hydrangea. Bartel-Pritchard Square, at the western corner of the park, features a variety of springtime blooms. Check out the park’s spring bloom guide for more locations.
2. Narrows Botanical Garden
Narrows Botanical Garden is in Bay Ridge, so it’s basically guaranteed to be tourist-free. The garden is entirely run by volunteers in the community, and it features a native plant sanctuary, a lily pond, a Zen garden, and two rose gardens.
3. Wave Hill Flower Garden
Most people who go to the Bronx for flowers will go to the New York Botanic Garden, but the Wave Hill Flower Garden is in many ways a better destination. Not only does it come into bloom early in the season, it also provides a magnificent view of the Hudson River and the Palisades—the cliffs on the other side of the river.
4. Snug Harbor Botanical Garden
If you’re willing to make the trip to Staten Island, you can enjoy the peace and quiet in the Tuscan garden and Chinese garden of Snug Harbor. There are multiple pavilions, a Koi pond, and even a bamboo forrest. The garden is easily accessible by taking the S40 bus from the Staten Island Ferry terminal.
5. Shorakapok Preserve
You might not realize it, but NYC actually has 51 nature preserves. The best one for seeing the springtime bloom is Shorakapok Preserve in Inwood Hill Park, which has a valley that fills with wildflowers in early spring. Shorakapok also has the only salt marsh left on the Island of Manhattan.
Cover photo credit: Andrew Dallos/Flickr