The Bronx is an unexpected treasure trove of art, history and outdoor expanses that will make you forget you're in one of America’s largest cities. But it's also the most misunderstood and most underrated borough of New York.
Those who perpetuate the reputation that the Bronx isn’t as hip or trendy as the other boroughs are missing the fact that this neighborhood has its own style. It’s where rap and hip hop were born, it's home to the largest metropolitan zoo in the U.S. and is a labyrinth of Art Deco architecture.
From Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, the Bronx is only a 25-minute Metro-North train ride away, making it an easy day trip for visitors to New York City. But with all there is to see and do in the Bronx, you may want to consider extending your visit. Here are some highlights you can’t miss.
New York Botanical Garden
New York Botanical Garden — Photo courtesy of Kae Lani Kennedy
Explore the world through the diverse plant kingdom and come face to face with millions of plants in one of New York City’s most pristine green spaces. The New York Botanical Garden is 250 acres of enchanting gardens that remain beautiful no matter what season you visit. The garden is also a research facility dedicated to documenting flora and educating guests on everything imaginable from cacti to carnivorous plants.
Woodlawn Cemetery — Photo courtesy of Woodlawn Cemetery
Welcome to the afterlife of New York City’s rich and famous. Woodlawn Cemetery is the final resting place of jazz’s finest musicians such as Duke Ellington and Miles Davis, but is also where you'll find eccentric New Yorkers like Joseph Pulitzer, founder of the Pulitzer Prize, and author Herman Melville.
While cemeteries are often a somber place of mourning, Woodlawn Cemetery is 400 acres of rolling hills celebrating the legacy left behind by the many that are buried there.
Museum of Bronx History
Museum of Bronx HIstory — Photo courtesy of The Bronx Historical Society
To fully understand what the Bronx is today, it's worth taking a step back in history to see where the Bronx began. The Valentine-Varian House, donated to the Bronx County Historical Society, is a restored masterpiece housing many artifacts and records documenting Bronx history, including the borough’s contributions to art and music. Rotating exhibits feature the Bronx’s role in national and global events.
Edgar Allan Poe Cottage
Edgar Allan Poe Cottage - Bronx — Photo courtesy of Shannon McGee
Along with the Museum of Bronx History, the Bronx County Historical Society also maintains Edgar Allen Poe Cottage, which was the last home occupied by Edgar Allen Poe. It was in this small farmhouse where Poe wrote some of his best works including “Annabel Lee,” “The Bells” and “The Cask of Amontillado.”
Visitors can walk through his old home and learn about elements of his daily life that inspired some of the most disturbing yet excellent storytelling in American history.
Bronx Zoo — Photo courtesy of dnorton
A visit to the zoo has always been a childhood favorite, but with around 6,000 animals to see, the Bronx Zoo has something fascinating for everyone, including the adults. Check out the live feedings of penguins and sea lions, and navigate through the Asian wildlife on the Wild Asia Monorail where you can see elephants and even rhinos. On summer weekends, kids can also enjoy a ride on the back of a live camel.
Savor the Bronx kickoff — Photo courtesy of Ruben Diaz Jr.
Come hungry and leave stuffed! Arthur Avenue is often referred to as the “real Little Italy” and it's a great place to enjoy an Italian American meal. There’s plenty to choose from: family-owned markets, traditional Italian bakeries, and cafes and restaurants passed down through the generations. It’s a taste of tradition as much as it is a taste of the Bronx.
Bronx Museum of the Arts
Bronx Museum of Art — Photo courtesy of Bronx Museum of Art
Admission is free at the Bronx Museum of the Arts where more than 800 works of art will challenge the way you think and encourage you to see modern day life from a new perspective. This art museum features contemporary art and provides a forum of expression to Bronx-based artists who come from diverse cultural backgrounds.
The Bronx Brewery — Photo courtesy of The Bronx Brewery
As the popularity of craft beer grows nationwide, craft breweries have been popping up all over New York City – and the Bronx is no exception. The Bronx Brewery isn't just a great place to grab a beer; its social atmosphere makes it a good spot for getting to know the locals.
The standard is the Bronx Pale Ale, but their adventurous brewers experiment with flavors like orange peel, peppers and cinnamon, depending on the season.
Yankee Stadium — Photo courtesy of BuickCenturyDriver
Baseball is one of America’s favorite pastimes and any fan, no matter what team they root for, should stop by Yankee Stadium – even if it's just to take in this $2 billion architectural marvel.
City Island, New York — Photo courtesy of Doug Kerr
Streets lined with Victorian homes, marinas full of boats and delicious seafood – you’ll feel like you’ve left New York City and gone to New England! On City Island, you’ll trade in subways for sailboats, and hunt down the best lobster instead of the best pizza. To shop for unique antiques and artisan crafts, take a stroll down City Island Avenue, home to a plethora of local shops and art galleries.