Go wild! Zoo’s galore and more as NYC attractions reopen

bronx zoo entrance
The Bronx Zoo’s Southern Boulevard entrance. (Alex Mitchell)

Savor a touch of the exotic citywide this weekend with all Wildlife Conservation Society zoos in NYC reopening to the general public Friday.

The Bronx’s New York Botanical Garden, and Riverdale’s Wave Hill gardens and public space also provide a breath of fresh air to many that have been cooped up over the past few months.

Respite from the concrete jungle

A western lowland gorilla at the Bronx Zoo. (Julie Larsen Maher/WCS)

The Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo are all set to reopen to the general public Friday.

Though, it’s a slightly different environment than patrons have been previously used to: strictly outside exhibits are viewable for the reduced capacity of guests, zoo-goers may only enter between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. at Prospect Park Zoo; 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the Bronx; 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in Queens, and 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the Central Park Zoo. Tickets must be purchased online for a specific date and time slot as no walk-up or on-site ones will be sold, and you must have your ticket printed or downloaded on mobile for contactless entry. Face coverings are required for all visitors aged over 3, social distancing protocols have been put into effect and hand sanitizer will be widely available to keep us all safe throughout the wilderness.

Starting next week, traditional free Wednesdays will also return at the Bronx Zoo but require advanced ticketing online, while day camps and education programs will be remaining digital at this time.

New York Botanical Garden

NYBG opens on July 28Photo courtesy of NYBG

After months of being shut down due to COVID-19, the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) announced that it will reopen to the general public starting next week.

While the full reopening process will happen gradually, the Bronx’s top destination for plants, flowers and everything nature is officially opening its 250-acre site on Tuesday, July 28.

In a continuing effort to encourage safety and social distancing, NYBG leadership has introduced new measures for staff and guests to follow. Measures include requiring all staff and visitors older than 2 to wear face coverings, increasing sanitation of public and staff areas, daily health screenings for on-site staff, social distancing practices, timed-entry tickets purchased in advances and operating the grounds at a reduced capacity.

Those who wish to come to NYBG must purchase their timed tickets in advanced, and those who do not will not be guaranteed admission.

According to NYBG, the following features and attractions will be open to the public starting next Tuesday:

  • the Native Plant Garden, with its meadow, woodland, promenade and centerpiece water feature
  • Bronx River, with its waterfall, which runs through the 50-acre Thain Family Forest
  • layered and colorful patterns and plant groupings of the perennial and herb gardens
  • lushly shaded Chilton Azalea Garden
  • award-winning Rockefeller Rose Garden
  • tropical and aquatic plant-filled conservatory courtyards and pools
  • inviting paths through the Ross Conifer Arboretum
  • Benenson Ornamental Conifers
  • Burn Family Lilac Collection

The Tram Tours, public programs and group tours remain suspended as a safety precaution. Additionally, the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, LuEsther T. Mertz Library, Edible Academy, Everett Children’s Adventure Garden and Hudson Garden Grill remain closed.

Wave Hill

Wave Hill to reopen July 30Courtesy of Wave Hill

Wave Hill, a 28-acre public garden and cultural center overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades, which has been shuttered for four months due to COVID-19, is reopening on July 30.

It will officially let the public back in with required pre-registration, reduced hours and fewer visitors.

Visitors are asked to have masks on when entering and exiting the garden and when using a restroom. Face coverings may be removed when on the grounds and social distancing is possible.

To protect guests and staff, the garden is reopening in phases. It will initially open Thursday through Sunday, noon to 5:30 p.m. The number of visitors will be limited each day and everyone will be required to reserve an admission ticket in advance. This ticket will be required to enter the grounds.

Every Monday, starting July 27, visitors will have access to reserve admission tickets for the following Thursday through Sunday. During the first week, Wave Hill members will have early access to weekly ticket reservations, starting Fridays.

The visitor parking lot will not be open and shuttle service is temporarily suspended due to social distancing requirements. Courtesy carts and wheelchairs are also temporarily unavailable. Again due to COVID-19, the buildings will be closed, but restrooms will be open on the lower level of Glyndor Gallery and at the Perkins Visitor Center. Visitors are welcome to bring water, but no food will be allowed on the premises.

When visitors make their reservations online, a confirmation email will include a link to everything they will want to know before coming and what to expect for their visit. Learn more at wavehill.org.

With reporting by Jenna Bagcal, Jason Cohen & Hazel Shahgholi.

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