Take a Day Trip from New York to see the Botanical Gardens
A twenty-minute ferry ride out of Manhattan brings you to the Snug Harbor Botanical Gardens in Staten Island. The ride itself is a part of the fun because you get great views of the city, including the Statue of Liberty. Admission to all of the gardens except for the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden is free, so it's a great daycation if you’re on a budget.
There are nine gardens, including ones modeled after gardens in China and Italy and a garden set up like a maze and designed to evoke “The Secret Garden.” There is a white garden with only gray-green or pure white blossoms and also a rose garden with a reflecting pool. The Healing Garden was built after 9/11 as a memorial. You can walk through the Allee with its 120 hornbeams. There is an entire garden devoted just to perennials, a type of plant that lives more than two years. The glasshouse is home to rare plants that require tropical conditions.
In addition to plants, you can find a contemporary arts center, a green gallery that hosts exhibitions, and five Greek-revival buildings. The Visitor Center has Ionic columns, stained glass, and clerestory windows that honor the nautical history of the site. There is also a Heritage Farm where you can purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
There’s also a cultural center on site that often host events, such as musicals, Shakespeare in the park, and festivals. The center offers great programs for class trips. Education is a main goal of the center and hands-on, interactive classes are offered in everything ranging from history to architecture to performing arts as it relates to the gardens. Activities include scavenger hunts “tree detectives” that all incorporate learning into the fun of exploring nature.
You can spend a whole day at the gardens and not explore everything. But what you do get will be breathtaking. The environment is serene and tranquil. You will have to do a good deal of walking, but you will get a variety of sites from flora to fauna to Victorian architecture and be able to bring something back with you that you can use to make yourself a home cooked meal with fresh ingredients. Easy to get to, inexpensive, and culturally stimulating, the Snug Harbor Botanical Gardens make for a great daycation from the New York City area.