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Known for its gritty street scene, international cuisine, natural attractions, and world-renowned sports, the New York borough of the Bronx is a vibrant hub where city living meets outdoor oasis. With a population of residents from places ranging from Italy to Ireland, Nigeria to Jamaica, and Puerto Rico to El Salvador, the borough has become a wellspring of art, fashion, food, and music-and is known across the globe as being the birthplace of hip hop. While the urban heart of the area is centered in the South Bronx, the more northern neighborhoods are where you'll find the New York Botanical Garden, Van Cortlandt Park, and the world-famous Bronx Zoo. Whether you want to take in a ballgame at Yankee Stadium, immerse yourself in the art scene of Hunts Point, or eat your way around Little Italy, there's certainly no shortage of things to do in this fun and dynamic borough.
With one of the most diverse populations of just about anywhere in the US, the Bronx boasts a rich mix of cultural influences that have given way to neighborhoods that are just as unique as the people who live here.
Belmont - Sitting in the central part of the Bronx, Belmont-known to locals as the "Real Little Italy"-is far more authentic than its sister Little Italy in Lower Manhattan. Following a wave of Italian immigration at the turn of the 20th century, Belmont welcomed an influx of traditional restaurants, bakeries, markets, and delis. Today, the commercial strip of Arthur Avenue continues to be a slice of the old country, with locals shopping for meat and cheese, sipping on cappuccino, and tucking into plates of hand-rolled pasta. Though newer residents from Puerto Rico and Albania have added to the mix of businesses, the neighborhood is still made up mostly of time-honored establishments that fly the Italian flag. Just to the east of the district in Bronx Park, the world-renowned Bronx Zoo covers 265 acres (107) with thousands of animals, educational programs, and interactive experiences.
City Island - Lying just off the shore of the Bronx in Eastchester Bay, City Island is a quiet seaside village that's popular with locals in the summer. The laidback escape feels like no other place in the city, boasting waterfront restaurants serving fresh seafood and a range of activities such as scuba diving and fishing. Spanning no more than one-and-a-half miles (2.4 km) long and a half-mile (.8 km) wide, it's easy to reach the island by bus and explore everything it has to offer on foot. Back on the mainland, Orchard Beach-"The Riviera of New York"-can be reached in just a 20-minute walk from the north end of the island.
Fordham - Directly to the west and north of Belmont, Fordham is a group of smaller neighborhoods that take their name from stately Fordham University. The district is home to the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage and Museum, where the acclaimed writer spent his final years and wrote his poem Annabel Lee. To the east in the park, the New York Botanical Garden is a dazzling display of tropical plants, manicured lawns, and rotating exhibits featuring artists such as Frida Kahlo, Claude Monet, and Dale Chihuly. Along East Fordham Road, find one of the busiest shopping districts in the city, with options including footwear, clothing, comics, and electronics.
Riverdale - As one of the more upscale neighborhoods in the borough, Riverdale-sitting on the northwest edge of the Bronx-is its considered by residents to be the best of both worlds. Beautiful homes on tree-lined streets lend a friendly, small-town vibe, while the neighborhood is still just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Midtown Manhattan. Along the colorful commercial street of Riverdale Avenue sit locally owned shops and authentic eateries. The quiet community's biggest draw are the Wave Hill Public Gardens, where visitors can enjoy expansive lawns, wooded paths, and views of the Hudson River.
South Bronx - Once a forbidding swath of asphalt littered with unused factories and fast-food depots, the South Bronx has seen a renaissance in recent years thanks to homegrown artists, creative entrepreneurs, and real estate developers. While the neighborhood still maintains its cultural heritage, today you'll find an eclectic collection of art galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and coffee shops. A walk along the Grand Concourse-a wide boulevard lined with art deco architecture-will lead you to the Bronx Museum, an internationally recognized destination that speaks to the neighborhood's history through exhibits by New York artists of Latin, Asian, and African-American descent. Hip hop was born in the South Bronx and tours take visitors to see where it all took root. And then, of course, there's the neighborhood's most famous landmark, Yankee Stadium, which brings out tens of thousands of fans for baseball games, soccer matches, concerts, and conventions.
Woodlawn - On the northernmost edge of The Bronx, Woodlawn is a neighborhood with deep Irish roots, perhaps the best place outside the Emerald Isle to get a traditional Irish meal. Follow the Kelly-green signs down Katonah Avenue to find pubs pouring Guinness, restaurants serving shepherd's pie, and taverns hosting music by live Celtic bands. Nearby, Van Cortlandt Park is the perfect place to play a round or two of golf or simply relax on the lawn after one too many beers. Within the park, the Woodlawn Cemetery is the final resting place of many notable figures, including Herman Melville, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Joseph Pulitzer, and many more.
Head to the New York Botanical Garden to bask in the breathtaking beauty of Mother Nature. Covering 250 acres (101 ha), this urban oasis is an extraordinary landscape featuring 50 different garden and plant collections, as well as the last remaining old-growth forest in New York City. Come here in the fall to see the gardens ablaze with red and yellow, in the spring and summer for the pink and purple roses, or in the winter to watch the gardens be blanketed in snow. At all times of the year in the Victorian glass conservatory, you can wander among tropical palms, delicate orchids, and prickly cacti.
Immerse yourself in the rich heritage of the borough with a visit to the Bronx Museum of Art. Open since 1971, the museum has played a vital role in the community by connecting diverse audiences to the urban experience through permanent collections, special exhibits, and education programs. Reflecting the neighborhood's unique culture, the museum serves as a crossroad where artists, locals, and visitors from across the world can meet-all while promoting accessibility through its free admission policy.
For a dive into the borough's street art scene, join a local guide on a walking tour through Hunts Point. This tour brings you into a neighborhood unconstrained by galleries, where murals and graffiti bring the identity of the community to life. Hit the pavement to get an insider perspective on the public art that defines the area, be it edgy, political, or just plain cool. Listening to an exclusive soundtrack as you walk, learn how hip hop played a significant role in awakening the underground art scene, and then see work by artists who have made pieces for the likes of Missy Elliott and Nicki Minaj.
As one of the most diverse areas in the country, the Bronx has no end to incredible culinary options from across the globe. Grab your friends and a subway pass for a self-guided food tour of the district. Start in the South Bronx for soul food on and around the Grand Concourse. Dig into classic creations such as mac and cheese, fried chicken, collard greens, and cornbread. Next, head north to Belmont for authentic Italian taste. Stroll Arthur Avenue on the hunt for brick-oven bread, cheese-filled ravioli, crisp-crusted pizza, and homemade gelato.
Continue west into Fordham to find inexpensive international eats that cater to the college set. Here, West African restaurants serve up creamy peanut soup, smoky spinach stew, and tomato-flavored rice. You can also find a selection of South Asian eateries offering crispy spring rolls, fragrant pho, lemongrass pork, and barbecue beef vermicelli. Cap off your food tour with seafood-either traditional fish and chips at a pub in Woodlawn or Maine-style crab cakes and lobster at a waterfront restaurant on City Island.
As home to one of the world's most famous stadiums, sports fans would be remiss not to take a look behind the scenes at Yankee Stadium. Operating tours almost daily, an expert guide takes visitors into exclusive locations throughout the stadium. Get up close to historic baseball artifacts and learn the history of the team that's won the World Series nearly 30 times. If visiting during game season, fans with tickets can join a pre-game tour that includes entrance to the legendary Monument Park before it opens to the public, and concludes with exclusive access to batting practice.
Can't decide between the things you what you want to do in the Bronx? With the New York City Explorer Pass, now you don't have to. This special access pass saves you tons of money by granting you admission to things like the Yankee Stadium Classic Tour and the New York Botanical Garden. What's more, you can explore the rest of the city as well, with access to museums and galleries, harbor cruises and bus tours, and landmarks like Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building.