“This borough at the northernmost tip of the city is the only one attached to the North American mainland (Manhattan and Staten Island are islands, and both Queens and Brooklyn are part of Long Island). The Bronx also has more parkland than any of the other boroughs, a renowned botanical garden, a world-renowned zoo, its own Little Italy, beaches and even an island reminiscent of a New England fishing village. The Bronx is named for Swedish commercial sea captain Jonas Bronck, who in 1639 became the first European settler to establish himself in this area. During its golden age in the 1920s, the building of the elevated subway line increased the borough’s population, Yankee Stadium was built and the mile-long Grand Concourse was fashioned as New Yorks Champs-Elysees, lined with elaborate art deco buildings.

Bronx Gardens

Van Cortlandt Park (Jerome AvenueBroadway) covers nearly two square miles and offers boating, horseback riding, cricket, golf, picnicking and tennis. The oldest public golf course in America, Van Cortlandt Golf Club (Van Cortlandt South and Bailey Avenue, 718/543-3114), celebrated its centennial in 1995 and features excellent greens, tight fairways, water hazards and a lakeside clubhouse.

The New York Botanical Garden (200th Street and Kazimiroff Boulevard, 718/817-8700) spans 250 acres including specialty gardens and a prized 50-acre forest that is the largest remnant of the woodlands that once covered all of New York City.

The mighty Hudson River and dramatic Palisades (cliffs on the west bank of the Hudson River) provide the backdrop for the neighborhood of Riverdale, a hilly enclave of estates. Among these is Wave Hill (675 West 252nd Street, 718/549-3200), an acclaimed public garden and cultural institution.

Bronx Museums and Attractions

The Bronx is also home to one of the city’s two major league ball clubs, the Yankees, who play at the famed Yankee Stadium (161st Street and River Avenue, 718/293-4300). Catch a game or take a tour behind the scenes.

The Bronx Zoo (River Parkway and Fordham Road, 718/367-1010) is the largest urban zoo in the country, with more than 4,000 animals representing more than 600 species.

There are over 60 landmarks and historic districts in the Bronx, including the beautifully restored 19th-century Edgar Allan Poe Cottage (East Kingsbridge Road and 193rd Street, 718/881-8900) on the Grand Concourse (the Bronx’s main thoroughfare). Here the great writer penned many of his most enduring works. The borough is also home to the stately Van Cortlandt House Museum (Broadway at 246th Street, 718/543-3344), the 18th-century plantation home of the Van Cortlandt family.

The free Bronx Museum of the Arts (1040 Grand Concourse, 718/681-6000) exhibits contemporary art by mostly emerging and as-yet unrecognized artists.

Dining & Entertainment

The Bronx has its own Little Italy on Belmont and Arthur Avenues. With its markets of fruit and vegetables, salamis and sausages, homemade mozzarella, pastries, breads and more, the area is a veritable feast for the eyes and stomach.

Off the borough’s northeast shore, City Island (east of Pelham Bay Park) looks and feels like a New England fishing village with its boatyards, sailmakers, antiques shops, art galleries and seafood restaurants. Across the way is Orchard Beach, a ribbon of white sand on the shore of Long Island Sound.

Tours & Activities

The Bronx Culture Trolley is a free program of the Bronx Council on the Arts (718/931-9500). It runs on the first Wednesday of each month (except January), providing travel in a replica of an early 20th-century trolley car. Stops include cultural attractions, restaurants and entertainment venues.

Fordham Road (718/562-2104) is the largest shopping district in the Bronx. Choose from more than 300 specialty shops and chains.

Harlem Spirituals (212/391-0900) leads gospel, jazz, heritage and ethnic tours. Four-hour tours on Tuesdays and Saturdays (AprilOctober) take in the multicultural diversity of Upper Manhattan and the Bronx. The year-round, all-day TriboroTuesday tour includes the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Hush Tours Hip-Hop Cultural Sightseeing Tour (212/714-3527) explores three decades of New York Citys hip-hop music scene. The three- to four-hour tours run every Saturday. Harlem and Bronx sites visited include the Graffiti Wall, the Apollo Theater and locations for movies such as New Jack City and Krush Groove.

SusanSez NYC Walkabouts (917/509-3111) Their walking tours explore the Bronx Zoo, Botanical Garden, Wave Hill, City Island and Arthur Avenue. City Island tours run on Sundays once or twice a month; Arthur Avenue tours on most Mondays.

The Bronx Culture Trolley, considered the “most successful of the city’s trolley routes” according to an August 2007 report by the Center for an Urban Future, winds down its 2007 run with some family holiday fun as Hostos Community College celebrates Kwanza and Pregones theater offers traditional holiday music from Puerto Rico. While youre in the holiday spirit, you can do some early holiday shopping at the Artisans Boutique holiday craft sale in the Hostos lobby right outside the Longwood Art Gallery @ Hostos which hosts the opening reception for Material Culture An exhibition presented by the artisans themselves.

The night also includes Quisqueya Henríquez: The World Outside A Survey Exhibition 1991-2007 at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, as well as a trip to the Alexander Avenue Antique District. Jazz and blues are also on the trolley agenda with pianist, trumpeter, composer Robert Silverman performing at the Yankee Tavern, and Richard Fells and the Ethereal Jazz Quartet winding down the night at J. Maxsons Bar & Grill. Admission to all participating venue attractions is free.

BCAs Bronx Culture Trolley Program on the First Wednesday of each month (except September and January) invites you to travel via a replica of an early 20th-century trolley car to several cultural hot spots, entertainment venues, and dining establishments along the South Bronx Cultural Corridor of the lower Grand Concourse.

The trolley departs from Longwood Art Gallery @ Hostos at 5:30, 6:30 & 7:30 pm and is accompanied by a meet-and-greet reception beginning at 5:00 p.m. The ride and admission to all the venues is free to participants.”

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