Over the past few weeks, people all over the city have been quietly muttering the words “was that it?” We can’t quite believe our luck that we escaped Winter relatively unscathed. Last year, we had numerous polar vortexes and dumps of snow right up until mid-April. This year it’s been a different story. The weeks of sunshine and record highs in the 70s have, dare we say it, meant that Spring has come early.
Every year, Spring announces its arrival in New York with the burst of cherry blossom. One of the best places to see the flourishing pink spray is at Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Last year, the winter was so harsh we had snow through to April and the blooms appeared in May; this year’s first blooms are already sprouting. The gardens are stunning and very tranquil to roam around. Open from 8am to 6pm weekdays (from 10am on the weekend), entry is $12 and children under 12 are free. Throughout the year there are many horticultural events reflecting the seasons, and the last weekend of April sees the annual Japanese cherry blossom festival of Sakura Matsuri. Your $25 entry includes everything from high-octane performances, music and martial arts to stand-up comedy and tea ceremonies.
While the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx doesn’t have a cherry blossom festival, there’s plenty to witness in bloom here. Right now until April 17th you can see their annual Orchid Show, which, this year, delves into 19th-Century ‘orchidelirium’ – the craze of intrepid explorers eager to find these rare flowers, risking life and limb in jungles across the globe. It’s $20 entry, $8 for kids aged 2-12. Side note: we love the NYBG so much we got married there.
New York has a plethora of parks and green spaces to visit – around 1,700 of them in fact. Its Parks & Recreation Department is responsible for over 30,000 acres, which makes up 14% of the city. Of course, no trip to New York is complete without heading to Central Park. There are plenty of spots to enjoy the cherry blossom and have a picnic (something you can’t do at the botanical gardens). The best place is Cherry Hill, mid-Park at 72nd Street west of Bethesda Terrace.
Brooklyn’s majestic Prospect Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, straight after they designed Central Park in the 1860s. At the Grand Army Plaza Entrance, you can see daffodils and tulips heralding the start of the new season. The 585-acre park also boasts a zoo, a boathouse and a 90-acre long meadow. I was lucky enough to live a 10-minute walk away from this park for three years and it never failed to impress me.
One of the best aspects of Spring in NYC is enjoying an al fresco meal. Having brunch outside with the family is made all the more fun when you can do it without gloves on or your hood up. I love nothing more than meeting a friend for lunch in the West Village as the days start to warm up. The fresh season brings with it some exciting new restaurant openings too, including ABC Kitchen’s vegetarian spin-off, ABCV, in Union Square, next month.
The change in the city is palpable. Spring is in the air, which means the start of Summer isn’t far behind.
Want to experience Springtime New York in all its glory? Check out our hotel deals to start planning your trip.