The weather has turned warmer and flowers are blooming. It’s time to head outdoors and take in all Long Island has to offer…but we’re not talking just beaches, parks, and playgrounds.
On your next family excursion, why not head to one of the many beautiful botanical gardens and arboretums located throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties? These gorgeous spots are perfect places to enjoy a picnic, admire the surroundings, and learn a thing or two about the flowers and trees around us. The best part, unless noted, is that admission to most of these sites is FREE.
For more warm-weather fun, check out our Spring Fun Guide and Events Calendar.
Bailey Arboretum — Locust Valley
Perfect for kids of all ages, this 42-acre botanical garden boasts adventurous and engaging activities centered around kid-friendly learning. The enchanting Children’s Habitat is a true outdoor playland, where children are encouraged to touch, dig, collect, build, hide, climb, and explore all there is in this backyard paradise. Self-guided tours let you learn about Long Island history as well as experience the quiet and serene surroundings of animal and plant life in the woods and ponds. Donations are accepted.
Clark Botanic Gardens — Albertson
Established in 1969, Clark Botanic Garden is a 12-acre living museum and educational facility. Collections include native spring wildflowers, conifers, roses, perennials, day lilies, wetland plants, rock garden plants, herbs, butterfly plants, medicinal plants, and more than a dozen collections of particular plant families. Educational programs include fun workshops for kids. There's also a gift shop. Open 10am-6pm daily. Donations are appreciated. There are fees for educational programs.
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Stroll through Hofstra's unique campus and view more than 12,000 trees. Photo courtesy of the university.
Hofstra Arboreteum — Hempstead
In 1985, Hofstra University's 240-acre campus received official recognition as an arboretum. There are more than 12,000 trees that represent 625 species and varieties. Tours and family-friendly programs (for a fee) are available throughout the year.
John P. Humes Japanese Stroll Garden — Mill Neck
Purchased by the North Shore Land Alliance in 2017, this beautiful, meditative garden includes a collection of North American and Asian plants, a stepping stone path, and a pond-side teahouse.
LIU Post Community Arboretum — Brookville
A FREE, self-guided tour of the formal gardens will take you around the 40-acre portion of the college's campus, where there are more than 125 trees, some of which are very rare. Each tree is labeled with horticultural facts and other information. Keep an eye out for the beautiful Tudor mansion that once was the home of cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post. Open all year round, seven days a week, from dawn to dusk.
Muttontown Preserve — East Norwich
This is Nassau County's largest preserve with 550 acres of fields, woodlands, ponds, and estate grounds. Self-guided tours take visitors along marked nature trails, where local wildflowers, trees, birds, reptiles, and amphibians can be spotted. Buildings on the preserve include the Chelsea Estate and Nassau Hall. Open daily from dawn to dusk.
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Kids will delight in the ponds and lakes of Old Westbury Gardens. Photo courtesy of Old Westbury Gardens.
Old Westbury Gardens — Old Westbury
John S. Phipps, former owner of Old Westbury Gardens, knew the way to his wife’s heart was to build her a house with an elaborate garden. Margarita Phipps loved the beauty of gardens and requested to have her own as part of the construction of their Charles II-style mansion. This mansion boasts more than 200 acres of formal gardens, ponds, and lakes. Take a guided tour of the house and gardens, and check out its calendar of family-friendly events. General admission for the house and gardens is $12; seniors older than 62, $10; children 7-17, $7; children 6 and younger, FREE.
Gaze in wonder at the gorgeous wisteria at Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park. Photo courtesy of the arboretum.
Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park — Oyster Bay
Bring a picnic lunch or eat at the Garden Café. Take a self-guided tour through the formal gardens. Many of the plants and trees are marked with identification plates. There are two greenhouses; the main greenhouse contains many rainforest plants while another houses the largest collection of camellias under glass in the Northeast. Admission is $8 per car April 1-Labor Day; FREE admission in winter.
Robert F. Ench Teaching Gardens — Farmingdale
Located on the campus of Farmingdale State College, this space has more than four acres of themed gardens. Maintained by the college's Department of Urban Horticulture & Design, you'll find roses, herbs, annuals, perennials, and much more.
Tanglewood Preserve — Rockville Centre
Enjoy this 11-acre preserve with a nature trail, newly renovated brick walkway, and a pond where fishing is allowed. It is also the home of the Center for Science Teaching & Learning, which offers science and technology programs for children.
Bayard Cutting Arboretum — Great River
The 690 acres of sprawling horticultural beauty in Bayard Cutting Arboretum were a donation of love. The arboretum was donated to the Long Island State Park Region by Mrs. William Bayard Cutting and her daughter, Mrs. Olivia James, in memory of William Bayard Cutting. It is the largest botanical garden on Long Island with extensive conifer collections and five nature walks. The sights and sounds of spring are evident in the ponds and wildlife. Admission is $8 per vehicle. Mansion and gardens tours are $10 per adult; $5 for children 11 and younger.
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Enjoy family-friendly gardening at Bridge Gardens on the East End. Photo courtesy of the gardens.
Bridge Gardens — Bridgehampton
This five-acre botanical garden boasts a collection of hedgerows, perennial and annual beds, and a four-quadrant herb garden with medicinal, ornamental, and textile and dye plants. The garden hosts many educational and family-friendly events.
Wander peacefully through the beautiful grounds at Longhouse Reserve. Photo courtesy of Longhouse Reserve.
Longhouse Reserve — East Hampton
The landscape features gardens, a pond with water lilies, lotus plants and bullfrogs, and life-sized garden sculptures. Educational and family-friendly events happen throughout the year. Admission is $15 for adults; $10 for seniors; high school and college students are FREE with ID. Members and children younger than 12 accompanied by an adult are FREE.
Madoo Conservancy — Sagaponack
Established by artist, writer, and gardener Robert Dash, this conservancy is a registered historic site and mixes together the worlds of flowers, trees, plants and unique art. Enjoy plenty of family-friendly events and children's workshops. Private tours are available for a fee.
A version of this article was posted in 2016. It was updated in May 2018.