When I want to go to my happy place I head to my favorite spot in New York City, Wave Hill. This slice of bliss is located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, about 10 minutes north of Manhattan. I always drive, but you can get there via public transportation as well.
Wave Hill is a historic estate--residents have included Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt--with gorgeous public gardens. Boasting more than 20 acres of rolling hills, about a dozen different gardens, small nature hikes through the woods, and breathtaking views of the Hudson River, it is truly beautiful and peaceful. The property also includes three houses that serve as a visitor’s center, art gallery, and gift shop.
Wave Hill has been around since 1843, so it’s had a few years to master the art of tending to the exquisite gardens throughout its grounds. But Wave Hill is more than just gardens; there’s a vibe and authenticity here that make this estate very special. The careful balance of charm plus sophistication fills me up with happiness every time I visit. Whether I’m exploring with my family through the natural woodland area or browsing through the carefully curated gift shop for local treasures, I’m always satisfied with my adventures here.
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Wave Hill’s Family Art Project
One of my favorite times to visit Wave Hill is on weekends. On Saturdays and Sundays visitors can participate in a free art class for families called Family Art Project. Families can arrive at their leisure--anytime between 10am-1pm--and join in the workshop, in which they are led through nature-inspired arts and crafts.
Admission is free on Saturdays from 9am to noon, so if you plan it right you can enjoy a completely free family day.
The Gardens at Wave Hill
No words will be able to describe the gorgeous views and gardens here; you really need to make a visit to take in the beauty. The variety of gardens include:
- Alpine House and Dry Garden
- Aquatic & Monocot Garden
- 10 acres of woodlands
- Greenhouses with a cactus room and a tropical room
- Perennial Flower Garden
- Pergola and vistas of the Hudson River and the New Jersey Palisades
- Elliptical Garden and Conifer Slope
- Wild Garden
Events at Wave Hill
There are many different events year-round. These include guided garden and bird walks, lectures, music and dance performances, gardening workshops, and photography lectures. Check out Wave Hill’s extensive events page to learn about all of these opportunities.
Visiting Wave Hill: Admission and Parking
Wave Hill is open Tues to Sunday 9am to 4:30pm. The fee is $8; $2 children 6 and older; $4 students and seniors; Free to members and children younger than 6. It is also free for IDNYC holders.
Admission is also free on Tuesdays and Saturdays for those who arrive between 9am and noon.
Parking is $8 in the lot located on the grounds or free if you park down the hill and utilize the free shuttle service.
Subway Directions to Wave Hill
Take the 1 train to 242nd Street. A free Wave Hill shuttle picks up on the west side of Broadway in front of Burger King at 10 minutes past the hour from 9:10am to 3:10pm. The shuttle van returns visitors to Broadway in front of Burger King, departing Wave Hill’s front gate on the hour, from noon until 5pm.
Tips for Visiting Wave Hill
- Strollers are welcomed but you won't be able to access all the paths, as some are gravel and use stairs. We left our stroller in a stroller parking area to explore some trails then picked the stroller up afterward.
- Picnics are allowed in a designated picnic area only. No blankets are allowed on the lawns.
- You are allowed to run and walk on the grass.
- Bring a camera, as the photo opportunities here are huge.
- The gift shop sells great local treasures. We often buy the honey sticks that cost only 50 cents, and then my daughter runs off her sugar buzz on the trails.
- Free parking is available at the bottom of the hill near the entrance. Security guards will direct you to this at the front gate.
- They have clean bathrooms and a good café with a wide range of offerings.
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