The Bronx is one of the five boroughs of New York City. It is the northernmost of all the boroughs. The Bronx shares the same boundaries as Bronx County, which is the third on the list of most densely populated counties in the US. As dense as the population is, it’s surprising to learn that a quarter of the borough’s area is dedicated to open space. These beautiful public places are some of the real treasures of The Bronx. Let’s visit some here.

Van Cortlandt Park

Van Cortlandt Park is New York City’s third largest park. The Van Cortlandt House Museum is located on the 1,146-acre grounds. You will find several sports facilities in the park. The park is home to the oldest golf course in the country, The Van Cortlandt Golf Course. The property has been repurposed several times over the years. In 1888, the house and grounds were sold to New York City and designated for public parklands.

Within the park, you will find the largest freshwater lake in the Bronx. Walking trails and hiking trails, along with Tibbetts Brook, wind through the old-growth forests. Sports facilities are located throughout the park as well.  If you like cross-country running, cricket, soccer, tennis, swimming, or baseball, even horseback riding opportunities are in Van Cortlandt Park.

Pelham Bay Park

This park has the distinction of being the largest public park in New York City! At 2,772 sprawling acres, it is more than three times the size of Central Park in Manhattan. This area has a rich historical place in the American Revolutionary War, and the land was a buffer between British and Rebel-held territories. This was where the Battle of Pell’s Point was held, and the Massachusetts militia stopped a British advance.

The park was created in 1888. Much of it is a wildlife sanctuary that is visited by nature lovers. Orchard Beach is located within the park. This public beach has been nicknamed the “Bronx Riviera.” The beach is manmade, designed by urban planner Robert Moses, and opened in 1936. They filled in about one-third of Pelham Bay, then brought sand in by barge from Sandy Hook, New Jersey, and the Rockaways in Queens.

Today, the 115-acre area of Orchard Beach contains a promenade and a central pavilion with specialty shops and food stores. Included in the Orchard Beach complex are two playgrounds, two picnic areas, 26 courts for basketball, handball, and volleyball.

Bronx Zoo

Located in Bronx Park, the Bronx Zoo is the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States, and is one of the largest in the world! Approximately 2.15 million visitors come to enjoy the zoo each year. These visitors enjoy world-renowned animal collections and award-winning animal exhibits. The zoo itself is actually a system comprised of four zoos and one aquarium. It was four years from conception to the grand opening to the public in 1899. When it opened, it was home to 843 animals in 22 exhibits.

By 2010, more than 4,000 animals of 650 species called the zoo home. Many species that are being treasured there are endangered or threatened. No trip to the Bronx would be complete without a visit to the Bronx Zoo.