There's even more to discover at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Inspired by the local habitats of New York, Discovery Garden features portable field guides and interactive science activity stations that aim to teach children about the ecological communities in the area and invite them "to practice scientific inquiry skills and deepen their curiosity about nature," said Ashley Gammell, manager of the Discovery Garden and family programs at Brooklyn Botanical Garden.
"Children are encouraged to clamber on boulders, follow animal footprints as they hop from log to log, dig in the soil and examine plants and natural objects up close," Gammell said. "Exhibits draw attention to the butterflies, bees, birds, squirrels and bunnies that inhabit the garden habitats and plantings were selected to attract wildlife."
The expanded Discovery Garden was designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, an award-winning landscape architecture firm with offices in Brooklyn. It is four times larger than its precursor, which closed for renovations a year and a half ago, providing more space to the Garden's growing number of young visitors each year. The updated space features more than 16,000 new plantings, several gardens and meadow, marsh and woodland habitats, as well as has stroller- and wheelchair-accessible pathways.
The new space also incorporates safety features that protect children but don't make them feel limited, such as rope railings on the boardwalk and fencing that serves as a boundary between the Discovery Garden and the rest of BBG, said A. Paul Seck, a principal at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.
"The Children's Discovery Garden is designed for the scale and perspective of children," Seck said. "To a child, the elevated boardwalk in the Forest area feels as though it is high up in the tree tops due to its proximity to large existing trees, but in reality it is only 30 inches from the ground at its tallest point."
To celebrate the opening, free festivities on Saturday include a stroll through the Garden with naturalist Brad Klein, a dragonfly sculpture-making workshop with artist Javaka Steptoe, an audio scavenger hunt and a dance party with a giant Grandmother Earth puppet.
There will be programming year-round, too, including Family Discovery Weekends from spring through autumn and school and camp visits "where kids can sharpen science skills as they explore the garden's habitats and visit hands-on, docent-facilitated discovery stations," BBG spokeswoman Elizabeth Reina-Longoria said.
If you go: Discovery Garden opens to the public with free festivities this Saturday from 1-5 p.m., 990 Washington Ave., Crown Heights, 718-623-7200, bbg.org