Northern Exposure: Family Activities at Wave Hill


     Non-New Yorkers may not believe that large grasslands of culture lie within the confines of the concrete Bronx. Native New Yorkers as well might be surprised to hear that over 28 acres of beautiful grounds have served as an educational and learning opportunity for its visitors since 1965. Luckily, everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of Wave Hill, a cultural and scenic area of woodlands, grasslands, and landscapes that attempts to bond people with nature.

     Once a private home to Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt, Wave Hill is a non-profit organization committed to both science and the arts. Often referred to as “an oasis of serenity”, it is a beautiful setting overlooking the Hudson River. Over 110,000 visitors take part in various lectures, workshops, tours, and demonstrations annually. Numerous educational opportunities, such as outdoor workshops, are also offered to students. These programs encourage learning about science and nature through interaction. Students are able to gain experience first hand and participate in art, sculpture, and science projects. Other educational programs include a Girls Environmental Science Camp and teacher training workshops.

     This spring, Wave Hill is offering many family-oriented programs. It is commemorating Earth Day by offering an Earth Weekend, April 26-27. Director of the Touchstone Center for children, Richard Lewis, will be on hand, calling upon all to imagine themselves as trees. Children will then be encouraged to create their own trees with arts and crafts. At the same time on Saturday afternoon, and in keeping with the tree theme, adults can truly take part in Earth Day by planting their own pine and holly trees. On Sunday, the whole family can learn about what it really takes to care for a tree. The kids will get a kick out of certified tree climber, Kathy Deutsh, as she climbs, plants, and prunes while teaching about disease control and pest management.

     The warm weather next month will coincide nicely with walking tours May 3-4. Named “Bionic Biology”, the hybrid exhibition is explored; afterwards, families will be able to create their own animals and plants with 3-D collages. May 10-11, Wave Hill celebrates Mother’s Day with its “Floral Fantasy for Mom” program. Children are given the chance to shower their mother with love by making a beautiful vase filled with flowers made out of beads and paper. “Alliums All Day”, May 17-18, will showcase the many uses of an onion. On Saturday, see how onion skins are used as dye. Find out about the various cooking uses for onions, leeks, chives, and garlic as Laurel Rimmer teaches all how to utilize various onions in the kitchen, as well as how to grow your own. Is there an artist lurking within? May 24-25, visitors are invited to sketch their own collages. Choose a few of your favorite flowers in the gardens and illustrate your own picture of spring splendor. If architecture is more up your alley, help build your own mini-dwelling out of natural materials, May 31 and June 1, in the program entitled, “A Secret City”. June 7-8, the landscape paintings of Deanna Lee will be on exhibit at the Wave Hill House Gallery. Afterwards, you will be able to make your own postcards highlighting the spectacular scenery at Wave Hill. At the end of June, visitors can create art by using clay sculpture and carving their own poppy flowers and birds.

     After a long and snowy winter, the family programs scheduled this spring offer families a much-needed respite from the hectic pace of city life while exploring exciting activities. Just a short ride from home, Wave Hill welcomes visitors to engage in its natural splendor and learn a few things in the process. After all, we all could afford to spend a day in an “oasis of serenity”.


Where: 675 West 252 Street, Bronx

When: April 15-October 15; Tuesday-Sunday 9am-5:30pm

How much: Wednesday through Sunday: $4 general, $2 seniors and students, members and children under 6 free; Tuesday, free all day; Saturday, free from 9am-noon

For more info: (718) 884-8952;