Visit with Kids

Discovery Garden: Activities, Games, and Cool Exhibits

This one-acre garden for kids is filled with fascinating plants and loads of hands-on activities. There are scavenger hunts, science stations, and games.

Look for

  • The giant bird’s nest. Go inside and build your own nest!
  • An elevated boardwalk. Walk just beneath the canopies of Lavelle's cork and black locust trees.
  • The “insect hotel,” which hosts leaf-cutter bees, praying mantises, and termites.

Discovery Workshops are often held here too. Depending on the day, you may be able plant your own vegetables, investigate earthworms, or go on a pollinator hunt.

View Discovery Station schedule ›

Download Kid's Field Journal (PDF) ›

Native Flora Garden: A Forest, a Meadow, and a Wildlife Hotspot

Stand in the Native Flora Garden and imagine what Brooklyn and the surrounding area looked like hundreds of years ago.

Look for

  • Wildlife living in the garden’s meadow. In the summer, you can see monarch caterpillars and butterflies, bumble bees, and other insects in the milkweeds, asters, and grasses.
  • The pine barrens bog. Ducks come to feed on the duckweed growing on the surface, and dragonflies hunt for mosquitoes among the yellow water-lilies. Praying mantises visit the boardwalk and sometimes lay eggs between the slats of the benches.
  • The small forest of mature trees. Well-groomed paths allow kids to lose themselves in nature without actually getting lost. The interpretive trail leads past a kettle pond with aquatic plants and a limestone ledge covered with wildflowers in the spring and summer.

Be sure to look for signs of the changing seasons: mayapples on the forest floor in spring, summer blooms in each plant community, fall foliage and seedpods, and animal tracks in the snow in winter.

Off the Beaten Path: Waterfalls, Statues, and More

Some of the most delightful features in the Garden can be found in unexpected places. Curious kids are sure to discover their own cherished spots, but here are some perennial favorites.

Look for

  • Venus flytraps, pitcher plants, and sundews in the carnivorous plant display on Lily Pool Terrace. Dragonflies hover around the pools’ aquatic plants in warm months. In winter, look for these plants in the Steinhardt Conservatory's Aquatic House.
  • Two waterfalls, an arched bridge, and a small shrine with two fox statues in the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. This garden’s pond is also a great place to see red-eared slider turtles, carp, ducks, and the occasional great blue heron.
  • The “whispering benches” at either end of the Osborne Garden. Sit on one side and tell a secret to a friend sitting at the other. The Osborne also has a large fountain that sometimes attracts ducks.

Other highlights include the stream that winds through the Plant Family Collection, plants you can smell and touch in the Fragrance Garden, the indoor desert, tropical rainforest, and temperate habitats in the Conservatory, the small trees in the Bonsai Museum, and the huge Victoria lily pads in the Aquatic House. And Cherry Esplanade’s lush, green lawn is perfect for resting or playing.

Discovery Garden activities. Photo by Lee Patrick.
Native Flora Garden. Photo by Morrigan McCarthy.
Photo by Dave Allen.
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