New York Botanical Garden: Is it Worth Visiting?

The exterior of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory

The New York Botanical Garden is one of the top things to do in NYC. But with a steep entry price of $30 and its location out in the Bronx, is it worth visiting?

Here’s my take as a travel and lifestyle blogger, and someone who regularly visits the city.

Overview of the New York Botanical Garden

The NYBG is a botanical garden on 250 acres of land in the Bronx. The garden is home to over one million plants, and the greenery is a welcome contrast to the cityscapes surrounding it.

Established in 1891, the NYBG has since become a National Historic Landmark that welcomes more than one million visitors per year. 90,000 of those visitors are estimated to be children from underserved local communities participating in educational programs, and around 3,000 are New York Public School teachers undergoing professional training to teach science courses.

The intricate glass ceiling of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory
Palm trees in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory

The NYBG is perhaps best-known for its Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, a beautiful greenhouse with lush plants from around the world. In parts of the glasshouse, it almost feels as if you’re wandering through a rainforest.

Some other popular spots include The Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, the Arthur and Jane Ross Conifer Arboretum, and the Everrett Children’s Adventure Garden.

Hanging plants in the glasshouse of the NYBG
Desert section of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory with cacti

How Much Do New York Botanical Garden Tickets Cost?

There are two options for tickets: all-garden access and grounds access only. Grounds access is only available to NYC residents, and it doesn’t include admission to the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Special Exhibitions, or Tram Tour like the All-Garden Pass does.

All-Garden Access Pass:

  • Adults: $30
  • Students/Seniors (65+): $28
  • Children (2-12 years): $15
  • Children under 2: Free
  • Members: Free

Grounds-Only Access Pass:

  • Adults: $15
  • Students/Seniors (65+): $7
  • Children (2-12 years): $4
  • Children under 2: Free
  • Members: Free

If you want to get the student discount or NYC resident pass, you’ll need to bring valid ID.

Membership costs $95 for an individual, $125 total for two people, and $155 for a family. There are discounts for seniors. If you get the Dual membership, it pays for itself and more in 3 visits (after 2 visits, you’re already basically breaking even).

Through the Reciprocal Admissions Program, you also get free access or discounts to other botanical gardens across the US. I’m wishing I knew about this when I visited since I probably would’ve traded in my friend’s ticket and mine for a Dual membership (you can trade tickets in for membership up to 7 days after).

Rainforest section of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory

How Long Should You Spend at the New York Botanical Garden?

I would recommend at least two hours in the gardens, though I think 3-4 would be ideal to see more collections. Be sure to bring good walking shoes since the park is massive. (If you want to walk less, you can always take the tram that runs through the park).

If needed, you can grab food at the Pine Tree Cafe at the main entrance, or sit down at the fancier Hudson Garden Grill near the Conservatory.

We also saw a food truck at the Mosholu entrance, but you should ask staff if there’s something there when you visit since it could be more occasional. You could also bring your own picnic!

Is the New York Botanical Garden Worth Visiting?

I was thoroughly impressed by the NYBG and found it to be worth the high $30 entry fee. I especially enjoyed wandering through the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. The glasshouse’s dainty architecture provides a lovely backdrop for the plant environments.

The conservatory is split up into several different exhibitions, including a seasonal edible gallery (though they’re just for viewing, not eating!), rainforest room, and desert environment. The courtyard pools are also incredibly picturesque, featuring many species of lotuses and water lillies.

Courtyard of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory with lotus-filled pools
Lotuses in the pool of the NYBG courtyard

We also walked through the forest to the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden, where there are often tasting events and educational programs for kids. It was fun to see the different vegetables growing and hear a staff member talk to other guests about how certain veggies have changed throughout history (for example, they pointed out the wild ancestor of corn growing in the garden).

Finally, we strolled over to the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, which has more than 650 varieties of roses and a rose-covered gazebo. They were super fragrant!

View of the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden
Gazebo in the Peggy Rockefeller Garden

There was much more to the NYBG that we didn’t have time to explore before closing, including the Arthur and Jane Ross Conifer Arboretum, which I was recommended by a coworker. Many areas are also seasonal, such as the Magnolia Collection, Cherry Collection, and Burn Lilac Collection.

Overall, I’d say that visiting the NYBG is worth it. I would gladly go again and still regret not getting the membership.

Me posing against the railing of the platform in the rainforest section of the NYBG Conservatory. I'm wearing a yellow green set and a teal fanny pack.
Fountain and plant archway in the NYBG Conservatory

That said, keep in mind that the NYBG is a bit far from most popular attractions in NYC. Since we were coming from the Bronx, it was only a 20-30 minute bus ride, but it can easily take over an hour to reach the gardens from Brooklyn or Manhattan.

There’s also not much to do in the area other than the Bronx Zoo and Bronx Little Italy. In fact, I find some of the surrounding neighborhoods noisy and not super clean (especially towards the Fordham Metro North stop).

If you’re coming from outside the Bronx and plan to spend most of the day in the NYBG, then I’d say that the trip is worth it.

The Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden of the NYBG

If you’ve been to the NYBG, let us know if you thought it was worth it!

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