Self-Guided Wintertime Adventures

By Michelle Torres

The Self-Guided Wintertime Adventures at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx allow visitors to create their own itineraries. Visitors can walk the story trail and read a book selection for Black History Month, Where’s Rodney, by Carmen Bogan. Visitors follow a trail with blown up pages of the beautifully illustrated book. Children can read the book as they go. In addition, there is a colorful scavenger hunt with illustrations printed on substantial feeling paper and pencils are available in a case that kids can open to help themselves. As you walk along, you check off all the items as you find them, such as a (animal) home or shelter, fruit, buds, tracks etc.

On the day I arrived at the NYBG to experience the tour, February rolled out the carpet with a sunny day that topped at temperatures in the low ‘60s. My two preteens were on assignment with me, by force, but both really enjoyed themselves. “It was great, I really liked the scavenger hunt,” said my twelve-year old.
To my surprise there was a lot of animal activity and much to see. Plants were beginning to bud, colorful birds of many kinds abound, the marsh was unfrozen, and we even saw a pair of Mallard ducks, female and drake, swimming about.

Granted, on a cold gray day, we may not have spent as much time out, but the Garden has clean bathroom facilities, a shop, and cafes, as well as the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, which winds through rain forest, pools and fountains and desert terrain – all of which provide a warm respite on a colder day. Don’t forget to bring your mask and you’ll need proof of vaccination for entry into the cafes.

The tour is self-guided and continuous, which means you can go any time. I recommend a weekday if you can swing it. Families were comfortably distanced, and everyone meandered at a pace that allowed a wide berth when one group passed another. It was quiet and pleasant, which may not be the case during the peak weekend days.

We all benefit from spending time in green spaces, studies show that access to green spaces yields a myriad of health benefits for individuals. One informational post in the garden asks, “How do young children benefit from Nature Play?” Nature play is important for children’s physical and emotional well-being. It stimulates their senses and helps development in critical ways. Urban children can be at risk of not experiencing these benefits if they don’t get out to quality green spaces enough. The NYBG is a safe and great resource that Bronx residents should make full use of. Membership to the garden is tax deductible and provides a family with year-round access to all the events and exhibitions. Visit this page on their website for directions.

The Self-Guided Winter Adventures began January 25 and run through March 20. Tickets can be purchased online at its website at a cost of $30 for adults and $15 for children. While the event is covered by membership, due to Covid restrictions, members will also need to reserve tickets.

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