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Bronx: What to eat, see, do and more on the borough's west side

Never been to the Bronx? You're missing out.

The northernmost borough has plenty to offer New Yorkers, like the beautiful Botanical Gardens and baked goods at Artuso Pastry Shop.

Bronx culture does not compare to any other borough's culture -- you'll always feel welcome here.

"The Bronx has a very unique vibe," said Olga Tirado, director of the Bronx Tourism Council. "It’s a little bit gritty … but at the same time there’s this inclusiveness that all of the communities have with each other."

If you want to check out the "gritty" borough but have never taken the subway past 125th Street and have no clue where to start your Bronx exploration, fear not.

From The Bronx Zoo to Van Cortlandt Park, here’s what to do, see, eat and more on the west side of the big BX.

Eat baked goodies at Artuso Pastry Shop

Take a bite into heavenly strawberry shortcake and
Photo Credit: Artuso Pastry Shop via Facebook

Take a bite into heavenly strawberry shortcake and chocolate mousse cake crafted by these local bakers. Choose from seasonal favorites like pear tarts and mainstays like chocolate espresso cupcakes. YUM. 670 E. 187th St., 718-367-2515, artusopastry.com

Visit the Bronx Zoo

Founded in 1899 and known as the largest
Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher

Founded in 1899 and known as the largest U.S. city-based wildlife conservatory, the Bronx Zoo is home to more than 12,000 animals and 750 species. Take a walk through the 265 acres of forest and stroll alongside parts of the Bronx River, the only freshwater river in New York City. Get more bang for your buck by purchasing a "Total Experience" pass that grants access to special attractions like the 4-D Theatre, Bug Carousel, Congo Gorilla Forest and more. 2300 Southern Blvd., 718-367-1010; For more info, visit bronxzoo.com

Stroll through the New York Botanical Gardens

After seeing lions, tigers and bears (oh my!),
Photo Credit: Kristine Paulus via Flickr

After seeing lions, tigers and bears (oh my!), take a relaxing stroll through the 250 acres of the 27 gardens. Listen to the humming waterfalls in the Rock Garden and admire Japanese chrysanthemums in the Conservatory. 2900 Southern Blvd., 718-817-8700, nybg.org

Catch a game at Yankee Stadium

Who doesn't love the New York Yankees? Buy
Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Who doesn't love the New York Yankees? Buy some peanuts and Cracker Jacks and watch the 27-time World Series champs do what they do best. newyork.yankees.mlb.com

Dive into Italian food culture at Zero Otto Nove

This eatery serves authentic Italian cuisine on the
Photo Credit: Zero Otto Nove via Facebook

This eatery serves authentic Italian cuisine on the famous Arthur Avenue -- just steps away from the Bronx Zoo and The New York Botanical Garden. Choose from classic Italian dishes like a Margherita pizza and sip on Italian wines straight from regions like Abruzzo, Umbria, Tuscany and more. 089.roberto089.com

Take a hike in Van Cortlandt Park

Spanning more than 1,100 acres, this park has
Photo Credit: Rich Mitchell via Flickr

Spanning more than 1,100 acres, this park has some of the best hiking and biking trails in the Bronx. It also has the oldest house in the borough, the Van Cortlandt Mansion and Museum. vcpark.org

Catch a perfromance at the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts

The Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, located
Photo Credit: Lehman College for Performing Arts via Facebook

The Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, located on the Lehman College campus, is the largest performance venue in the borough, drawing artists like El Gran Combo and Willie Colon. Every year during the holiday season, Lehman presents the Christmas special -- "Parranda Navideña," an ode to the Puerto Rican parranda. What's a parranda, you may ask? It's hard to describe, but it's when a group of loved ones go door-to-door to carol and party together. This year's "Parranda Navideña" features Antonio Caban Vale "El Topo", Papo Valle with El Trio Borinquen and more. lehmancenter.org

Stroll through the Wave Hill gardens in Riverdale

Breathe fresh air while walking through Riverdale's 28-acre
Photo Credit: Wave Hill

Breathe fresh air while walking through Riverdale's 28-acre public garden at Wave Hill. Take in spectacular views or hit up a cultural event, like a cooking demo or garden highlight walking tour. www.wavehill.org

Get cultural at Pregones Theater

Hit this hot spot for Latino cultural performances.
Photo Credit: Pregones Theater via Facebook

Hit this hot spot for Latino cultural performances. In collaboration with Plataforma -- the "Bronx-Broadway Showcase for Latino Theatre" -- Pregones Theatre presents works from "East WillyB" actor Flaco Navaja and more local artists. 575 Walton Avenue, 718-585-1202, pregonesprtt.org

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