Is It Worth Visiting the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in the Winter?

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My objective this weekend was to see if it was actually worth going to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden during the winter time. The short answer is yes, it certainly is. However, you should keep in mind before you go that it’s not going to be the lush green wonderland that it is during the warmer months (at least not on the outside). The garden is probably at its peak winter beauty right after a snowfall, but the snow has been evading us in NYC this winter, so I had to settle for visiting on a regular chilly, gray day.

Stream Brooklyn Botanic Garden Winter

Side note: The lack of greenery outdoors is most likely why the Brooklyn Botanic Garden offers free admission on weekdays from December through February. Winter weekend admission is regular priced, but being the cheapskate that I am, I got around this by taking advantage of the NYC library systems’ Culture Pass, where you can use your library card(s) to score free admission to dozens of NYC cultural institutions, including the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG).

Wooden Bridge Brooklyn Botanic Garden Winter

So what is there to do in a botanic garden on a gray, winter day? Lots, as it turns out. The BBG offers its own winter itinerary that tells you which flowers you should look out for and what other plants are in season. But I had my own agenda: visit the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden and get to the Steinhardt Conservatory to see the Bonsai Museum. As you can see from the pictures above and below, taking a stroll along the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden is a lovely activity in any season. It’s hard to tear your eyes away from the wooden torii and the chunky koi fish.

Japanese Garden Brooklyn Botanic Garden Winter

The best part about visiting the Brooklyn Botanic Garden during the winter when the outdoor plant life isn’t popping is that you can fully dedicated your time to exploring the Conservatory without feeling as though you’re missing out on the rest of the garden. Even if the rest of the botanic garden somehow disappeared (kind of like it does in the winter), the Conservatory would still hold its own as must-have experience. What makes it so worthwhile is that it isn’t your ordinary greenhouse; in addition to having a bonsai museum, the conservatory is divided into four sub-gardens, each with its own climate. There’s the dry Desert Pavilion, the Tropical Pavillon, the Warm Temperate Pavillion, and the very educational Trail of Plant Evolution. If you’re looking for a warm escape from the winter, this conservatory is the place to be.

If you have more time at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, be sure to stop by the Aquatic House with its collection of tropical and wet-environment plants and orchids. My visit was only an hour and a half long because it started to drizzle but it would be easy to spend a good two or three hours at the botanic garden, especially if you stop for a bite to eat at the garden’s Yellow Magnolia Cafe.

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29 responses to “Is It Worth Visiting the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in the Winter?”

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  5. Erica Avatar

    I was just in New York a couple of weeks ago. Wish I had known earlier about this! Definitely would have checked out the gardens. Looks like it makes for a relaxing activity.

    1. shilohinthecity Avatar

      It was! I left feeling so calm and happy.

  6. SherianneKay Avatar

    I’m all about free admission! The Japanese garden is pretty and I bet it’s rally gorgeous after a snowfall! Would love to check out the bonsai museum

    1. shilohinthecity Avatar

      Same! If there is a way to get in for free anywhere, I am on it haha. The bonsai museum is worth the trip!

  7. pamelard Avatar

    I honestly never thought about visiting a botanic garden in the winter, but you make so many great points! I have never been to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, but with four different zones that sounds pretty cool. Thanks for sharing!

    1. shilohinthecity Avatar

      Yeah, it was surprising that the botanic garden was still so beautiful even though many of the trees were bare. I guess nature has a way of being beautiful in every season.

  8. WanderlustBeautyDreams Avatar

    I went in late Spring one year and it was a very nice botanical garden! My favorite in NYC has to be the on in the Bronx.

  9. Yina Avatar

    It’s always a good idea to explore a nature place even if it’s not all lush and green. I love the outdoors and the gardens are wintertime have a special ambiance to it.

  10. C. Jaye Avatar
    C. Jaye

    I’ve been to NY a million times, but this is one place that I’ve never been. It looks so pretty and GREEN!! This looks like something that my mom would enjoy. She loves plants, flowers, and foliage. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Just One Passport Avatar
    Just One Passport

    I’ve never been here. I’ll have to go next time I’m in New York. I’m with you, I love the Japanese gardens. I imagine that it’s also far less crowded in the winter.

  12. gofargrowclose Avatar

    Interesting question – whether it is worthwhile seeing any garden when it is in hibernation. I’d probably wait until the spring myself but I love that it was free to explore during the week.

  13. Lerato Avatar

    Adding this to my bucket list! you also have beautiful pictures 🙂

  14. clairebromm Avatar

    I love exploring gardens and parks and things! However I think I personally would opt to go during the warmer months

  15. Nina | Lemons and Luggage Avatar
    Nina | Lemons and Luggage

    I love botanical gardens so I’d definitely visit this once I finally make it to NYC!

  16. Gabi | The Tiny Book Avatar
    Gabi | The Tiny Book

    This place looks really different in Winter, with fewer crowds and a completely mysterious atmosphere. From the pictures, I can see that you enjoyed the day despite it being chilly! I loved reading this!

  17. Jayne Rain Avatar
    Jayne Rain

    I’m so impressed by the garden. Amazing how full of life it is even now in the winter. You are right; one can fully explore the conservatory without feeling as though they are missing out on the rest of the garden. Amazing insight.

  18. The Solivagant Soul Avatar
    The Solivagant Soul

    Lovely garden! I usually try to visit them anywhere I go, and like you, during winters I enjoy the small closed greenhouses! Btw, thank you for letting us know that it is free to visit during weekdays in the cold days…!

  19. Michelle Avatar

    I could see where you might miss some of the lush greenery found in the warmer months, but I feel like the gardens are still nice to see. Just to escape the city a little 🙂

  20. Megan Avatar

    Bring that I am a southerner, I don’t think I would be able to take on Brooklyn winters lol. But I would love to visit the gardens. It looks so peaceful. Thanks for the share!

  21. My Haute Talk Avatar
    My Haute Talk

    I love the outdoors and botanical gardens. You planned a great trip. Hopefully this summer I will make a visit.

  22. Pre'Knechia Carter-Stokes Avatar
    Pre’Knechia Carter-Stokes

    Botanical Gardens have always been my go to after museums! Great post!

  23. KeAndrea Avatar

    I’ve never been so I really appreciate the share! Great images and details.

  24. sydneyculver Avatar

    Having grown up in NYC, I always loved the Botanical Gardens. I think it’s a nice soothing place to think. Thank you for sharing!

  25. staciesayzso Avatar

    I haven’t been to Brooklyn but this would be fun to visit. Especially during the cold months when you just need to see some greenery.

  26. Lyssy In The City Avatar
    Lyssy In The City

    That’s on my list to see this year!

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