Located right next door to Prospect Park, Brooklyn Botanic Garden provides visitors with access to numerous natural wonders in a unique attraction situated squarely at the heart of Brooklyn’s urban core. Brooklyn Botanic Garden is home to species of plants from all over the world. Highlights of their impressive collection include lilacs, roses, orchids, and cherry trees—just to name a few. There are also multiple conservatories on site, and the entire place is linked by scenic walking paths.
History of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden story begins in 1897, when the New York legislature set aside approximately 40 acres for use as a botanic garden. Brooklyn Botanic Garden itself was officially founded in 1910, with the renowned botanist Charles Stuart Gager overseeing its launch. The original design for Brooklyn Botanic Garden was the handiwork of the sons of the great landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, and it first opened its doors to the public in May of 1911.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, as we know it today, consists of 52 acres and is the product of over 100 years of careful planning and passionate devotion to plant life. Some elements of the botanic garden—like its beloved Lily Pool Terrace—have been in place for about a century, whereas components like the Robert W. Wilson Overlook and the Elizabeth Scholtz Woodland Garden were only completed in the past couple years. Add it all together, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is an inspiring place to visit and learn more about the natural world right in the midst of New York City.
What’s at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Brooklyn Botanic Garden is home to 15 different gardens and six separate conservatories. Notable gardens found here include the Cherry Esplanade, the Discovery Garden, and the Shakespeare Garden, and popular conservatories like the Trail of Plant Evolution, Tropical Pavilion, and Bonsai Museum are hits throughout the year. When in doubt, though, you can’t go wrong simply picking a direction on your garden map and setting forth on a leisurely walk.
There’s something here for nearly all plant enthusiasts and garden lovers, but several collections stand out as particularly memorable. You’ll find here hundreds of cherry trees, and the Cherry Walk path that passes by the Esplanade is a favorite stroll for many visitors who want to enjoy the dozens of species of cherry trees that bloom majestically each spring. The Lilac Collection is another lovely experience. Not only do they make for beautiful viewing, but they provide a botanical history lesson: each lilac is displayed in chronological order pertaining to when it was first noted or bred by a botanist. Fans of peonies, roses, and orchids will also be delighted by the garden’s collections of these remarkable flowers.
Visitors to Brooklyn Botanic Garden interested in grabbing a bite to eat will have their pick of three different dining options. The Coffee Bar is a casual spot that whips up an assortment of sandwiches, soups, pastries, snacks, and of course, caffeinated beverages. The Yellow Magnolia Canteen (please note: it’s not open during the winter months) has a similar menu to the Coffee Bar, but occupies a charming location on the terrace near the Steinhardt Conservatory. The Yellow Magnolia Café features a vegetable-forward menu in a beautiful setting adjacent to the Lily Pool Terrace.
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Garden Shop is the place to pick up the perfect souvenir of your visit, or grab that special gift for the plant lover in your life. Its carefully curated selection of goods includes books, jewelry, accessories, clothes, and houseware products, as well as a wonderful variety of plants, seeds, bulbs, and garden supplies.
Tips for Visiting the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
- The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is included on several money saving tourist passes including the New York Pass, NY Explorer Pass and NY Sightseeing Pass.
- Never forget that throughout Brooklyn Botanic Garden, different collections will be in bloom at different times throughout the year. Make a point to check their website in advance of your trip if you’d like a quick rundown of what’ll be in season at the time of your visit.
- You’ll also find on the Brooklyn Botanic Garden suggested walks for whatever season of the year it is. This helpful resource is like a cheat code that’ll maximize what you can see and do during your visit.
- If you have some flexibility in your schedule, consider visiting Brooklyn Botanic Garden sometime Tuesday through Friday. Admission to the garden on those days is on a pay-what-you-wish basis.
- Brooklyn Botanic Garden is located near a number of other prominent attractions, including the Brooklyn Museum, Prospect Park Zoo, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, and Barclays Center. It could easily be combined with a visit to one of these other popular NY attractions to make a very fun day of sightseeing that doesn’t require much in the way of transportation or logistical work.