Nature Centers and Botanical Gardens in the NYC Area
Explore nature centers and botanical gardens in New York City, Long Island, Westchester County, Rockland County, and the entire New York Metro area.
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Sarah Lawrence College Center for the Urban River at Beczak
Outdoor space is open, but indoor facilities remain closed.
35 Alexander St., Yonkers
Hours: daily, dawn to dusk
Admission: FREE, but donations are appreciated. Program prices vary.
What you need to know: Visitors are asked to maintain proper social distancing and wear a mask when that isn’t possible.
Center for the Urban River at Beczak features a riverside park, sandy beach, and tidal marsh. It offers educational programs for children, adults, and groups about rivers, local beaches, marshes, fish, birds, and the weather. The Interpretive Center presents interactive exhibits, seasonal displays, and an aquarium with Hudson River species. firstname.lastname@example.org
Cranberry Lake Preserve
The park is open, but the nature center temporarily closed.
1609 Old Orchard St., West Harrison
Hours: daily, dawn to dusk.
What you need to know: Visitors must wear face masks when social distancing is not possible. One-way traffic is in place on paths and trails to promote social distancing. Parking lots may close intermittently on high-volume days.
This 190-acre park includes a variety of habitats, including a 4-acre lake, cliffs and scrubland, mixed hardwood forest, vernal pools, and a pond. Visitors can follow the History Trail to the remains of a 19th-century farmhouse and early 20th-century stone-mining operation. The nature center offers free family-oriented nature programs on most weekends and houses a variety of interactive, educational displays. The preserve also offers a summer ecology program for children in first through ninth grades.
Greenburgh Nature Center
Grounds and outdoor exhibits are open, but the manor house and playground are closed.
99 Dromore Road, Scarsdale
Hours: Grounds: daily, dawn to dusk.
Admission: $7; $6 seniors and students; $5 children ages 2-12; free for children younger than 2
The Greenburgh Nature Center is a nonprofit nature preserve and wildlife refuge with a mission to ignite passion, curiosity, and respect for our natural world. Its 33-acre property includes hiking trails, a pond, organic garden, nature discovery playground, native plant meadow, and more than 100 rescued and rehabilitated animals. It also offers nature and sustainability education programs, seasonal camps, and weekly programs for kids. Dogs not allowed on the property.
Lasdon Park, Arboretum and Veteran’s Memorial
Trails and gardens are open for walking, but the Conservatory and Veteran’s Museum are closed. The shop is open for limited purchases Wednesday-Saturdays, for pickup by online ordering.
2610 Amawalk Road (Route 35), Katonah
Hours: Park and Veteran's Memorial: daily, 8am-4pm. Garden Shop hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 8am-3:30pm.
Conservatory admission: Monday-Friday: $5; $2 for children 12 and younger; Saturday-Sunday: $7; $3 for children 12 and younger
What you need to know: Rules for social distancing must be observed at all times. Parking lots may close intermittently on high-volume days
This 234-acre property consists of woodlands, open grass meadow, and formal gardens with flower and shrub specimens from all over the world. The park includes the William and Mildred Lasdon Memorial Garden, the azalea garden, the dinosaur garden, the 4-acre Chinese Friendship Pavilion, the Famous and Historic Tree Trail, the 22-acre Mildred D. Lasdon Bird Sanctuary, Garden Shop, and four memorials and a museum honoring veterans. The park offers botanical art classes, a plant sale, a Halloween train show in October, and a Christmas train show in December. There is also a summer concert series Friday evenings in July, weather permitting.
Grounds and trails are open, but the nature center and other indoor facilities remain closed.
19 Dudley St., Yonkers
Hours: Trails: daily, dawn to dusk.
What you need to know: Masks are required when social distancing is not possible.
The 40-acre nature preserve is home to many species of birds, plants, and trees from around the world. Summer is a prime time to visit the butterfly garden, hummingbird garden, and dragonfly pond.
Trail is open, but the nature center building is temporarily closed.
220 Boston Post Road, Rye
Hours: Trails and grounds: daily, dawn to dusk.
What you need to know: One-way traffic is in place on paths and trails. Parking lots may close intermittently on high-volume days.
The 147-acre wildlife sanctuary borders 23 acres of Jay property and is comprised of forest, meadow, salt marsh, and shore. There are 3 miles of trails and ½ mile of shoreline along the Long Island Sound. The nature center displays a small number of changing exhibits and saltwater aquaria containing representative species of marine life and offers environmental programs to schools and other groups by registration. The conservancy also offers a summer ecology program for children and a conservationist-in-training summer program for kids in grades 7-9.
Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary and Nature Center
The sanctuary grounds are open, but the Nature Center remains closed.
100 Playland Parkway, Rye
Hours: Trails open daily dawn to dusk
Admission: FREE; parking fee in effect May-October
What you need to know: Masks or face coverings are required when social distancing is not possible.
Three miles of trails navigate through the 179-acre sanctuary, which is full of diverse marine life, both plants and animals. The park also has views of Long Island Sound and Manursing Lake and a nature center building. Educational programs are offered through the nature center. Please call or visit the website for updates.
Rye Nature Center
Grounds and trails are open, but buildings, playgrounds and programs remain closed.
873 Boston Post Road, Rye
Hours: Trails: daily dawn to dusk
What you need to know: Guests are asked to maintain a 6-foot distance between you and others, visit alone or with members of immediate family or household, make space for others in the park, and protect yourself and other visitors while on the trails by warning others of your presence when passing. Access to bathrooms is unavailable.
With 47 acres of wildlife preserve, the Rye Nature Center has ponds, bee observation hives, and hiking trails. Kids ages 3½-13 can enroll in a summer ecology camp June-August, and preschoolers and kindergarteners can do a weeklong June Bug program to learn about animals on the trails throughout June. A Paddle Adventure kayaking camp is also offered during the summer for kids in eighth through 10th grades.
Sheldrake Environmental Center
Trails are open; visit website for updates on events.
685 Weaver St., Larchmont
Hours: Daily, dawn to dusk
Admission: Free for hiking; program fees vary
What you need to know: Masks are required when social distancing isn’t possible.
Located at the 60-acre Larchmont Reservoir, Sheldrake offers hiking trails and environmental programs for families and schools. The School Group programs combine in-class discussion with on-site visits to one of three local sites: Larchmont Reservoir, Sheldrake River Trails, or Dog Beach. At summer and vacation week camps, children explore the trails, investigate pond life, and search for animals in nature’s playground. Adults programs include composting and volunteer environmental education.
Teatown Lake Reservation
The grounds are open, but the visitor’s center and restrooms are closed.
1600 Spring Valley Road, Ossining
Hours: Trails: daily, dawn to dusk
Admission: FREE; program prices vary; $5 parking on weekends
What you need to know: Programs will be held outdoors. Participants are required to wear face masks, and to practice physical distancing. Parking tags are required Friday-Sunday and holidays, 9am-5pm until November.
This 1,000-acre nature preserve hosts nearly 15 miles of marked hiking trails. The nature center contains nature education exhibits and a variety of amphibians, birds of prey, mammals, and reptiles. Wildflower Island, a 2-acre island sanctuary located within Teatown Lake, is home to more than 230 native and endangered species of wildflowers; guided tours available (by reservation) Saturdays at 10am and 1pm, Sundays at 1pm from April through September. Teatown offers a Natural Science Summer Day Camp throughout the season in four two-week sessions, and mini camps are offered during school breaks.
Trailside Nature Museum at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation
Trails are open, but the museum is closed.
Routes 35 and 121, Cross River
Hours: Trails: daily, dawn to dusk
Admission: FREE; car fees: $5 with Park Pass; $10 without Park Pass
What you need to know: Masks or face coverings are required when social distancing isn’t possible.
Museum exhibits focus on aspects of the natural world along with the human history of Ward Pound Ridge Reservation and the surrounding area. Specimens of birds, mammals, plants, insects, and minerals are on display. The reservation features a wildflower garden behind the museum and 40 miles of hiking trails through a variety of habitats. You can pick up a trail map at the museum or download it from the website. The museum offers interpretive nature programs for children and adults.
Weinberg Nature Center and Trailside Museum
Trails are open, but the nature center and museum are closed.
455 Mamaroneck Road, Scarsdale
Hours: Trails: daily, dawn to dusk.
Admission: FREE, but donations are appreciated; program fees vary
What you need to know: Woodland Native American Encampment in repair, will reopen soon. Masks are required when social distancing is not possible.
The Weinberg Nature Center sits on 8½ acres of conservancy property and is home to an array of animals. There are student art displays, a toddler activity area, a rock, fossil, and mineral exhibit, as well as Native American lifestyle items. You can visit the Woodland Native American encampment with a wigwam, dugout canoe, and more for hands-on interactive activities. Weinberg also has an outdoor pre-release enclosure for squirrels. Weinberg’s trails include the Homestead, Discovery, Geology, and Terrell Trail.
Trail system and museum are open to the public.
260 Chestnut Ridge Road, Mount Kisco
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:15am-5pm; Saturday-Sunday, 9am-5pm. Trails: daily, dawn to dusk.
What you need to know: Masks are required, and guests must practice social distancing.
This 640-acre sanctuary features more than 7 miles of trails, plus a museum and nature center. The sanctuary offers public programs for children and adults such as seasonal nature hikes, bird walks, turtle study, and pond study.
Clark Botanical Gardens
The gardens and restrooms are open, but the shop and Clark House remain closed.
193 I. U. Willets Road, Albertson
Hours: Garden: daily, 10am-6pm; restrooms: daily, 10am-3pm
Admission: Donations appreciated
What you need to know: Visitors must wear masks and follow social distancing rules.
A 12-acre living museum and educational facility dedicated to understanding and appreciating the world’s plant life through horticulture, education, and research. Garden collections include conifers, roses, perennials, daylilies, wetland plants, rock garden plants, herbs, butterfly plants, medicinal plants, and more than a dozen collections of particular plant families. The garden offers regular programs for families and children (registration required).
Garvies Point Museum & Preserve
All facilities are open.
50 Barry Drive, Glen Cove
Hours: Museum: Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-4pm. Preserve: daily, 7am-7:30pm.
Admission: $4; $2 children ages 5-12; free for children younger than 5 with an adult
What you need to know: Masks are required in buildings. Admissions will take place in the foyer through a glass window with one group allowed in the foyer at a time. Use of credit cards will be encouraged. One family group is allowed in the foyer, gift shop, and exhibit alcove at a time. Three to 4 family groups are allowed in the museum at a time. Visitors are requested to limit time in the museum to 1½ hours, if necessary. Bathrooms will be cleaned daily (as always) and any additional times as necessary. Hand sanitizer pumps available at entrance and throughout the museum.
A 62-acre site set along Hempstead Harbor, Garvies Point has permanent exhibits and educational programs about Long Island and New York state geology and Long Island Native American culture and archaeology. Exhibits cover a variety of natural history subjects, including the glacial exhibit, which illustrates and explains the formation of contemporary land features. The Discovery Room is an interactive Native American-themed exhibit for kids in second grade and below. No dogs allowed.
Old Westbury Gardens
The gardens, Café in the Woods, and restrooms by the parking lot are open. The gift shop remains closed.
71 Old Westbury Road, Old Westbury
Hours: through Oct. 31: Monday and Wednesday-Friday, 11am-6pm; Saturday-Sunday, 10am-5pm
Admission: $12; $10 seniors; $7 children ages 7-17; free for children 6 and younger
What you need to know: There is a limited capacity for how many visitors can enter the grounds per hour. All visitors must reserve or purchase admission tickets in advance. Guests must maintain 6 feet of social distance between household groups; wear face coverings when social distancing is not possible, unless a face covering is not medically tolerated; follow the route indicated by white arrows and signage.
This historical site features a Gold Coast mansion among 200 acres of formal gardens, landscaped grounds, woodlands, ponds, and lakes. Summer activities include outdoor concerts, the Long Island Scottish Festival (Aug. 25), and environmental educational programs that teach children about plants, wildlife, and agriculture.
Planting Fields Foundation
Grounds for walking are open. Greenhouses and mansion are closed.
1395 Planting Fields Road, Oyster Bay
Hours: 9am-5pm daily
Admission: $8 per car, April 1 through Labor Day. Parking fee waived.
What you need to know: Open for walking, no bikes or scooters
This site is home to one of the few remaining Gold Coast estates on Long Island’s North Shore to retain its original 409 acres of historic buildings and landscape. Families can visit rolling lawns, formal gardens, hiking trails, and specimen plantings as well as the Camellia Greenhouse and the Main Greenhouse, which have seasonal displays. The grounds are both wheelchair- and stroller-accessible.
Science Museum of Long Island
Open for science camps only.
1526 N. Plandome Road, Manhasset
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30am-3:30pm
Admission: Varies by program
What you need to know: Open for science camps only.
A science activity center located on the Leeds Pond Preserve, this museum offers hands-on science workshops and summer camps for children. All programs and workshops are by registration only.
Tanglewood Park and Preserve
Open. Museum open by reservation only.
1450 Tanglewood Road, Rockville Centre
Hours: Park is open 9am-5pm daily; Center for Science Teaching and Learning is open Wednesday-Sunday 10am-4pm
Admission: Park: free; Museum: $15 for anyone 13 years or older
What you need to know: Museum is open by reservation only. Wear a mask when you cannot maintain social distancing.
The 17-acre park and preserve allows families to enjoy a lovely nature trail and a beautifully renovated brick walkway surrounding a pond. The pond permits fishing (children ages 16 and younger are not required to have a fishing license). Tanglewood also houses the nonprofit educational organization Center for Science Teaching and Learning, which hosts regular science learning programs for kids. Exhibits are closed until the fall.
Bayard Cutting Arboretum
Arboretum is open. Manor house and hidden oak cafe are closed.
440 Montauk Highway, Great River
Hours: Arboretum: April-October: Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm; November-March: Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-4pm
Admission: FREE. $8 parking fee per car
What you need to know: Restrooms are open on the outer side of the Manor House, a mask or face covering is required to enter the restrooms.
Located along the Connetquot River, the arboretum contains more than 690 acres of meadows, centennial oaks, and brightly colored nature walks among rhododendron and swamp cypress. Don’t miss the Pinetum—it has one of Long Island’s largest collections of fir, spruce, pine, and hemlock trees. The arboretum is also home to many varieties of bird species.
Gardens open. Buildings and facilities closed to the public.
36 Mitchell Lane, Bridgehampton
Hours: 10am-4pm, daily
What you need to know: Guests are asked to practice social distancing of a minimum of 6 feet, wear a mask or face covering in public places, and avoid crowds. If the gardens or trails are crowded, and you can not maintain social distancing, please come back at another day or time.
Bridge Gardens is a unique, 5-acre public garden in the heart of Bridgehampton. Not only are there traditional gardens of seasonal flowers and herbs, there are also unique garden mazes, a knot garden, and beds of culinary, medicinal, ornamental, textile, and dyeing herbs. Learn how herbs and plants are cultivated and used in kitchens, hospitals, and factories. Walk through the garden paths and enjoy its diverse plantings, including a rose garden and a water garden.
Caleb Smith State Park Preserve
581 W. Jericho Turnpike, Smithtown
Hours: 8am-4pm Wednesday-Sunday, year round except holidays
Admission: FREE. Parking Fee waived. Interpretive Program still closed.
What you need to know: Masks are required when social distancing is not possible.
Most of the preserve’s 543 acres are undeveloped, allowing views of its many different habitats, including freshwater wetlands, ponds, streams, fields, and woods. The preserve is a refuge for wildlife and its diverse habitats support a variety of trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and ferns. It offers hiking opportunities, trout fly fishing ($25 per session; must have a permit and proper fishing gear), and also operates a nature museum with wildlife displays and nature programs for children and adults. Must call and make a reservation for fly fishing and programs.
Sweetbriar Nature Center
Grounds are open with limited use. Nature Center is closed. Butterfly House is closed.
62 Eckernkamp Drive, Smithtown
Hours: Nature Center open 9am-4:30pm daily; Butterfly House open 10am-4pm daily (June through September)
Admission: Free for preserve (donations accepted). Butterfly House: $5; $3 seniors and children younger than 12; free for children 2 and younger
What you need to know: Offering virtual and some in-person, socially distant events. Summer programs are limited. Visit the website for more information
The center is located on 54 acres, with nature trails winding through diverse areas that include wetlands, fields, and forests along the Nissequogue River. It is home to a large wildlife rehabilitation center, public gardens, a nature museum, simulated rainforest room, and the Butterfly House that contains about 20 species of native North American butterflies and moths. There are also public programs, school break programs, scout programs, and birthday parties.
Uplands Farm Nature Sanctuary
The Nature Conservancy, Long Island Chapter
250 Lawrence Hill Road, Cold Spring Harbor
Hours: Grounds open dawn to dusk daily
What you need to know: Guests must wear masks when social distancing isn't possible. The preserve offers visitors the chance to enjoy a variety of natural habitats and native species. Nearly 2½ miles of marked trail meanders from bird and butterfly meadows, through deciduous forests, and into a white pine-shaded ravine.The trail begins in the sanctuary's most popular attraction—the vast wildflower meadows which provide important habitat for a wide variety of plants and animals, including milkweed, goldenrod, and dozens of butterfly species. Bird species associated with this type of habitat are Eastern Bluebird, Tree Swallow, and Blue-winged Warbler. Groundhogs have also become common on the preserve, so visitors can look for them feeding along the edge of the meadow along the Daniel P. Davison trail.
Audubon Center of Greenwich
The trails are open, but buildings, facilities and restrooms are closed for the time being.
613 Riversville Road, Greenwich
Hours: Trails open sunrise to sunset daily; center open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm
Admission: $3; $1.50 children and seniors, $6 suggested donation
What you need to know: Guests are asked to follow social distancing guidelines.
The center’s walking trails span 7 miles and 285 acres, past lakes, ponds, and rivers. The center also has bird blinds, which are spots to watch for birds—including the center’s many species of hawks—where they can’t see you.
The trails and garden are OPEN
151 Brookdale Road, Stamford
Hours: Grounds are open daily, dawn to dusk. Check website for hours of operation for individual buildings.
Admission: $6, Free; children under 12 are free; Wednesdays are free to all guests
What you need to know: Visitors must follow CDC guidelines when entering the trails, stay six-feet apart
The arboretum features extensive gardens and a collection of plants and trees, as well as hiking trails in the woodlands nearby.
Connecticut Audubon Society Nature Center
The center is open for outdoor programs, and the store is open Monday-Saturday, 10am-2pm.
2325 Burr St., Fairfield
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am-3pm
Admission (suggested): $2; $1 children
What you need to know: Guests are asked to maintain proper CDC social distancing guidelines.
The birds of prey compound is a viewing area for raptors. The center also includes a sanctuary, wigwam replicas, and hiking trails and is home to animals like snakes, turtles, and millipedes.
Darien Nature Center
Building is still closed for the summer, but trails are open.
120 Brookside Road, Darien
Hours (summer): Trails: daily, sunrise to sunset
Admission: Minimum $5 donation suggested
What you need to know: Visitors are asked to practice social distancing guidelines while on the trails.
The center features a small trail system, ideal for kids; a pond with ducks; and rotating exhibits as well as a permanent exhibit with more than 40 animal species.
The grounds are open and there is some free, walk-in outdoor programming, but the building is closed.
10 Woodside Lane, Westport
Hours: Grounds: daily, 7am to dusk
Admission: $7; $5 seniors and children younger than 12; free admission to the grounds, $5 suggested donation to all non-members
What to know: storytime every weekday at 10:30am, bird of prey feeding at 11am weekdays, masks are required
With a mission to educate the community about nature and the environment, Earthplace offers 62 acres of wildlife sanctuary, which include hiking trails, an interactive natural history museum with live animals, and public nature programs and events. For kids, there’s the Explorer’s Clubhouse, Tiny Tree House, Nature Lab, Backyard Resource Center, and Nature Theater.
Nature Conservancy’s Devil’s Den Preserve
The preserve is closed until further notice.
33 Pent Road, Weston
Hours: Sunrise to sunset daily
The preserve is the largest tract of protected land in Fairfield County. It offers more than 20 miles of trails, acts as a habitat to about 40 bird species, and holds the remains of charcoal and lumber production sites. The area is deeply wooded, with rock formations, streams, and swamps.
New Canaan Nature Center
The trails and grounds are open, but the visitor’s center is closed.
144 Oenoke Ridge, New Canaan
Hours: Visitor center and greenhouse: Tuesday-Saturday 9am-4pm; Birds of Prey, Arboretum, and Gardens: dawn to dusk daily. Admission: FREE
What you need to know: Guests are asked to follow social distancing guidelines.
The center includes 2 miles of hiking trails on the grounds, which include wet and dry meadows, two ponds, wet and dry woodlands, dense thickets, an old orchard, and a cattail marsh. The center also encompasses seven aviaries in its Birds of Prey exhibit, a world of bees exhibit, an arboretum full of native and nonnative trees, several specialty gardens including a Wildflower Garden and The Bird and Butterfly Garden, and a 4,000-square-foot greenhouse featuring exotic species of flora.
Stamford Museum & Nature Center
Most programs are open, but the Overbook Nature Center, HeckscherWILD!, and the Nature & Me Preschool are still closed.
39 Scofieldtown Road, Stamford
Hours: Monday-Saturday 9am-5pm; Sunday 11am-5pm
Admission: $10; $8 seniors; $6 students (with ID); $5 children ages 4-17; free for children 3 and younger. Observatory: $3; $2 children.
What you need to know: Anyone older than 4 must wear a mask at all times, wash your hands at a handwashing station before you touch any animals. Maintain social distancing and monitor children closely.
The center is a New England working farm with heirloom breeds of animals, an otter pond, an observatory with a 22-inch research telescope, changing exhibition galleries, a planetarium, early education classrooms, and a vast hardwood forest with 80 acres of hiking trails.
Woodcock Nature Center
The trails are open, but the nature center, playgrounds, restrooms, and offices are closed to the public.
56 Deer Run Road, Wilton
Hours: Trails: Monday-Friday, 3:30pm to dusk (the trails are closed to the public during summer camp hours); Saturday-Sunday, dawn to dusk
What you need to know: Visitors must maintain proper social distancing while on trails. Stay on marked trails and don’t disturb wildlife.
The Center sits on 149 acres with trails, boardwalk trails, a pond, live animals and birds of prey. It offers environmental education programs and summer programs for kids.