The northernmost borough. The birthplace of hip-hop. The home of the New York Yankees. The borough I frequent the least.
You are probably wondering why that is! It’s not because I have beef for the Bronx, although there is a very well known “war” between Bronx and Brooklyn on who is the best borough. It is because the distance from Brooklyn and the Bronx is the FURTHEST compared to the other boroughs.
Since I am in my local explorations game, this summer was a great time to explore the Bronx. Prior to this, I had only been to the Bronx for a Yankees game and to visit the zoo. I am here to tell you that there is so much more!
This day itinerary will answer questions such as:
What is famous in the Bronx? What is Bronx most known for?
What is good about the Bronx?
What are scenic places in the Bronx?
Where is the Bronx?
How do I get to Bronx?
How to spend a day in Bronx?
Where is The Bronx, New York?
The Bronx is located north of Manhattan and Queens and just south of Westchester County. As the northernmost borough, it is the only borough of NYC located primarily on the U.S. mainland. Interestingly, Bronx County was the last of the 62 countries of New York State to be added.
Is The Bronx part of New York City?
Yes! It is one of the 5 boroughs that make up New York City.
Getting to the Bronx from Manhattan, “The City”
How do I get to the Bronx?
There are several ways one can get to the Bronx from Manhattan. The directions here are to New York Botanical Gardens, which is the first stop I will list on this itinerary.
By Car: When traveling from midtown Manhattan, it will take 30-40 minutes depending on traffic. If you take a car, then you will have to pay $20 for parking at the gardens.
By Subway/Bus: You can take the 4, B, or D train to Bedford Park Blvd. Station. From the station exit, take the Bx26 bus to the Garden’s Mosholu Entrance. Make sure you take the bus on the same side of the train station. You can also walk eight blocks down the hill on Bedford Park Blvd (approximately 20 minutes). Turn left onto Southern Blvd. and walk one block to Mosholu Entrance.
By Train: You can take the Metro-North from Grand Central Terminal to the Botanical Garden Station on the Harlem local line -- just a 20 minute ride!
What is the Bronx most known for? What is famous in the Bronx?
The Bronx is primarily known for Yankee Stadium and as the birthplace of hip-hop. However, it is also worth knowing that the Bronx has the greenest space in NYC -- a quarter of its area is open space including Van Cortlandt Park, Pelham Bay Park, the New York Botanical Garden, and the Bronx Zoo. This is a huge deal considering that it is the third most densely populated county in the U.S.
How to spend a day in the Bronx?
1. New York Botanical Gardens
The New York Botanical Garden is a botanical garden located at Bronx Park in the Bronx, New York City. Established in 1891, this 250-acre site has 50 different gardens and plant collections featuring 12,000 species and 1 million plants. It is no wonder that they have more than 1 million visitors annually. Since 1967, the garden has been listed as a National Historic Landmark. Throughout the year, they have several events including the Holiday Train Show, Spring Uncorked, and the Orchid Show. If you are looking for a place to take a peaceful stroll, to smell the flowers *literally*, or escape the hustle and bustle of NYC, this is the place for you! You will forget that you are still in New York City.
Address: 2900 Southern Blvd, The Bronx, NY 10458
3 FYI’s before you visit:
Cost: Normal cost is $28 for adults and $25 for seniors and students.
Check if you qualify for discounts: For example, NYC residents get FREE entry on Wednesdays. Other days, it's $15 for general admission and $7 for seniors and students.
Advanced timed-entry tickets are required to enter: While you must arrive at the Garden within one hour after your ticketed entry time, you may enjoy the Garden grounds for as long as you please.
2. Bronx Zoo
Located within Bronx Park, the Bronx Zoo is one of the largest zoos in the USA, based on area. Made up of 265 acres of parkland, it is the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States. It is amazing to think that the zoo opened in 1899 with only 843 animals in 22 exhibits, but now has 6,000 animals and 700 species.
Although the last time I went there was a few summers ago, I am adding it to the itinerary because of its close proximity to the New York Botanical Gardens (a 15 min walk or 2 min drive). Because it has so much to offer, they get over 2 million visitors a year. You can easily spend a whole day here! With that being said, you may want to spend all your time at the Zoo or at the Botanic Gardens.
TIP: If you are trying to visit both the zoo and botanic gardens to avoid two trips to the Bronx, I recommend getting to Bronx Zoo at the time of opening so you can maximize your time at both places. The Botanic Gardens closes at 6 PM, which is why I recommend going to the Zoo first.
Address: 2300 Southern Blvd, The Bronx, NY 10460
3 FYI’s before you visit:
Cost. It is $39.95 for adults and $34.95 for seniors for park entry plus unlimited access to the rides and attractions available on the day of the visit. Limited admission tickets for park entry only are $24.95 (ages 13+).
FREE Wednesday Admission. Looking to save? Who isn’t? Limited admission is free all day on Wednesdays at the Bronx Zoo. The Wednesday Ticket Store will open on Monday at 5:00 pm for that Wednesday’s reservations.
Advanced timed-entry tickets are required to enter: While you must arrive at the zoo within one hour after your ticketed entry time, you may enjoy the Zoo for as long as you please. However, their website warns to not come to the zoo without a reserved ticket.
3. Fordham University
I don’t know about you. but I enjoy walking through college campuses. Large, open college campuses are rarer in New York City, so I appreciate them even more. Across the street from the main entrance of NY Botanic Gardens is the Rose Hill Campus of Fordham University. It’s been a good minute -- literally, since I was looking for a college in 2006 since I have wandered the Fordham University grounds. However, seeing that it is across the street from the Botanic Gardens, you might as well take advantage of the opportunity to explore this 85-acre campus with Gothic architecture and tree-lined walkways.
Address: 441 E Fordham Rd, The Bronx, NY 10458
NOTE: Due to the Coronavirus, I am unsure if you are able to walk into campus freely!
4. Little Italy
Many people have heard of Little Italy in Manhattan, but how many of you have heard of Little Italy in the Bronx? I am here to tell you that this is the real and original Little Italy, located in the Belmont section of the Bronx. Its history dates back to 1792 compared to Manhattan’s Little Italy which dates back to 1926. It has experienced a shift and there is now a growing Albanian and Mexican population -- which has led to Belmont going from 89.5% white in 1970 to 75% Latino. This, along with its lack of proximity to the subway, has helped to preserve the essence of Little Italy. Having been to Little Italy in both Manhattan and Bronx, I have to say that based on taste, the one in the Bronx is better. This is truly a well-kept secret and I hope it remains that way!
Address: 2396 Arthur Avenue, Bronx, New York 10458
INSIDER TIP #1: You have to go to Antonio’s Trattoria. Order the HOT ANTIPASTO (FOR 2) to start which is made of shrimp, baked clams, fried calamari, mussels, eggplant Parmigiana. Then order either the baked ziti and ask for it with bolognese or the lasagna made with fresh sheets of pasta. Both were super cheesy The baked ziti was literally the best I have had so far!
INSIDER TIP #2: Run down the block to get a box of pastries from Artuso’s pastry! Get a variety of things to try from cannoli to rainbow cake to Napoleon to biscotti! There is a reason this bakery has been around since 1946!
3 FYI’s before you visit:
Check the hours of the locations you want to visit: We went on a Sunday and I noticed that many places I googled either close early or do not open on Sundays.
There are many iconic bakeries to try: When I searched for the best bakeries in the Bronx’s Little Italy, several came up with great reviews. Might as well do a food tour and try several places to decide for yourself!
Come hungry: From my experience, the portions are large and the food is DELISH. You also want to have room for dessert as the baked goods are just as tasty!
Tips for the Bronx, New York
I recommend taking public transportation so you don’t have to deal with the inconvenience of finding and paying for parking.
If you are looking for the most cost-effective time to visit the Bronx, go on a Wednesday. This is when NY Botanic Gardens and the Bronx Zoo offer free admission.
None of the locations on the itinerary are super close to the NYC subway. As a result, be prepared to take a bus or Uber as well if you do not want to have to walk 15-20 minutes.
Pack plenty of snacks and water or make a quick stop at the subway stand (won’t get cheaper than $1 per water bottle). Things can be expensive at the Botanic Gardens or the zoo, so come prepared as much as you can in order to reserve your money for more worthwhile things such as a tasty Italian dinner in Little Italy.
The Bronx is far, for the most part, no matter where you are coming from in NYC. As such, leave extra time for your commute. If you truly want to maximize a full day in the Bronx, that may mean needing to start your adventure early in the morning!