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9 Beautiful Indoor Gardens To Visit In NYC
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9 Beautiful Indoor Gardens To Visit In NYC

Picture of Kaitlynn Roberts
Updated: 9 February 2017
If the thought of colder weather is already making you shiver, then checking out some of New York City’s indoor landscapes may be the cure to your early case of winter blues. From Brooklyn to the Bronx, the Big Apple does not fail to cater to the various likes of its visitors as it boasts some of the most brilliant displays of flowers, birds, butterflies and cacti from around the world.
The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory At The New York Botanical Garden | © Ivo M. Vermeulen / NYBG
The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory At The New York Botanical Garden | © Ivo M. Vermeulen / NYBG

The Conservatory At The New York Botanical Garden

Arguably the most well known of all of New York’s gardens, the New York Botanical Garden displays some of the most beautiful arrangements of plants you can find in the city. While the outdoor garden is open year-round, catering to the spectacular foliage native to each of the four seasons, the indoor conservatory will offer a warm welcome to those trying to escape the bitter wind chill. The annual Holiday Train Show is a must-see for families, but the foreign tropical plants, palms, and dessert cacti has everyone day-dreaming of a beach vacation far from the icy sidewalks of the city. This is a must-see for anyone looking for beautiful architecture, spacious seasonal exhibits, and a channel to further their knowledge about our innate connection to the natural world.

New York Botanical Gardens: The Conservatory, 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY, USA +1 718 817 8700

The Frick Collection

As a former homestead to an industrialist millionaire, The Frick now showcases some of the most renowned displays of Western European art you can find in the city. Although most of the greenery may lie in the surrounding outside gardens, there is a small indoor area with an approach to tasteful fountains and simple tropical shrubbery. This will satisfy anyone who wants a breath of fresh air and an hour in the silence that accompanies the admiration of culturally rich artwork.

The Frick Collection, 1 East 70th Street, New York, NY, USA +1 212 288 0700

© Julie Larsen Maher / Wildlife Conservation Society
© Julie Larsen Maher / Wildlife Conservation Society

The Tropic Zone At The Central Park Zoo

The Central Park Zoo may be just that – a zoo – but its indoor Tropic Zone may surprise you when it comes to its ability to mimic the feeling of a real rainforest. While most of the exhibits are either behind glass or pushed away from the path of zoo-goers, it does not diminish the genuine feeling of trekking through a foreign landscape. From the forest floor to the canopy, you get to experience more than a display of big and beautiful plants but also a wide variety of animals that live naturally alongside them. If you’re known to fall asleep to ‘sounds of nature’ than this interactive environment will soothe your soul. While some of the zoo’s other animals may be hiding in their shelters, the option to roam its vast exhibits gives it variety without it having to be an all day excursion. However if that is what you’re searching for, the Central Park Zoo’s bigger sister – The Bronx Zoo – can provide a full day of stimulation.

Central Park Zoo, 64th Street and 5th Avenue, New York, NY, USA +1 212 439 6500

Aquatic House of the Steinhardt Conservatory at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Photo by Rebecca Bullene. Courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Aquatic House of the Steinhardt Conservatory at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Photo by Rebecca Bullene. Courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Brooklyn Botanical Garden Conservatory

Head further south in the city and Brooklyn will give you a conservatory that rivals the Botanical Gardens of the Bronx. While half of its splendor may lie outside, its indoor gardens will satiate any flower lover. Including collections such as Orchids in the Aquatic House, the Bonsai Museum, the Desert Pavilion, and the Tropical Pavilion located under 6,000 square feet of domed glass, this Conservatory has something for everyone. From waterfalls and indoor pools that mimic rainforests in the Amazon basin and eastern Asia to succulents that have flourished for millions of years in the planets most arid regions, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden is for anyone who appreciates the vast array of plant species that can be found inhabiting almost every continent.

Brooklyn Botanical Garden, 990 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, USA +1 718 623 7200

The Ford Foundation Atrium

If you like beautiful glass buildings that showcase early architectural examples of sustainable design then the Ford Atrium is where you’ll be planning your next lunch break. Completed in 1967, this lush subtropical garden has been providing city goers with a consistent source of fresh air that feels like the cleanest breathed anywhere in the city. With ceilings hitting the 160 foot mark, trees can provide a small sense of wilderness as plants are not confined to waist height. Generally well-lit and low key with a welcoming entrance and paths to stretch your legs, this atrium is an easy check off of any city-goer’s to-do list.

The Ford Foundation Atrium, 320 East 43rd Street, New York, NY, USA +1 212 573 5000

Female Orchard Swallowtail | © AMNH / D. Finnin
Female Orchard Swallowtail | © AMNH / D. Finnin

The Butterfly Conservatory At The American Museum Of Natural History

Representing one the museum’s biggest draws, the Butterfly Conservatory allows visitors a hands-on interaction with the plants and insects that have remained dependent on each other for hundreds of years. Without the restriction of glass or ropes, museum-goers have the ability to experience a room of energy through a colorful brilliance that the outside world lacks in its coldest months. One huge draw is the educational aspect, great for anyone looking to brush up on their knowledge of butterflies or inter-web connectivity. Stopping by for the chance to have a great monarch land on your nose could just turn your day upside down, but so could the dozens of other exhibits which returns a sense of wonder to your world. Anyone with a genuine interest in the evolution of life on this planet will not be disappointed at the Museum of Natural History.

The American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West and 79th Street, New York, NY, USA +1 212 769 5100

Wave Hill Palm House | Image Courtesy of Wave Hill
Wave Hill Palm House | Image Courtesy of Wave Hill

The Conservatory At Wave Hill

Winter does not mitigate the brilliance of Wave Hill’s indoor garden and cultural center as monkey plants, nutmeg bushes, old lady cacti, and paintbrush lilies are just a small sample of the massive blooms taking place in the upcoming months. Though the outdoor gardens are also open in the colder months showcasing the winter wonderland look of snowy conifers for those want to embrace the holiday spirit, the multiple glass buildings that courteously span the world’s biomes displays a unique beauty of plants not regularly seen making this garden a steady crowd pleaser. But don’t let that fool you; located right next to Riverdale Park, this is a garden that lays a little out of the way creating a hidden gem to quietly enjoy native and non-native vegetative beauties alike.

Wave Hill, West 249th Street, Bronx, NY, USA +1 718 549 3200

The Chinese Garden At The Metropolitan Museum Of Art

‘Nature Within Walls’ is how the Met likes to think of its Chinese themed indoor garden, which is not far from the truth. Mimicking some of the pagoda styles found in traditional Asian cultures, as well as native plants and an overall design that perfectly displays beauty in simplicity, it becomes quite easy to get a sense of a world far from our own. Like Shanghai itself, the garden has the ability to take on an abstract and out of place feeling, as its old world origins clash with the modern ways of the dominant West. For anyone looking to take a quick culture trip to get a taste of a place far from the city sidewalks, the Chinese Garden, amidst the hundreds of other intriguing pieces, is the place to spark your creativity and imagination.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th Avenue, New York, NY, USA +1 212 535 7710

Isola Trattoria & Crudo Bar at Mondrian Soho

Okay, so maybe this slightly upscale bar located within the chic and sophisticated NOMO SOHO Hotel may not necessarily be in everyone’s price range, but it is most definitely worth the splurge. Located in one of the hippest parts of the Big Apple, Isola Trattoria offers a huge indoor eating area with French- inspired glass ceilings and walls. Chandeliers? Check. Tropical trees? Check. Simple, gorgeously green plants? Check. All accented by earth-toned furniture and drapes, this lovely gem can be perfect for either a midday lunch or after work drinks. If you’re looking for a simple, refined, and fresh place to spend a few hours, than Isola Trattoria is a must.

NOMO SOHO, 9 Crosby Street, New York, NY, USA +1 646 218 6400