Red Maple Trees. Photo: NYC Parks

Parks are packed with activities for New Yorkers to get the most out of the spring season

As flowers and trees start to bloom, the migratory birds return, and the days grow longer and the weather grows warmer, NYC Parks is excited to welcome spring back to the city! To celebrate, Parks’ horticulturists are sharing their top 5 favorite flowers to look for in parks across the city, which New Yorkers can track on the Signs of Spring page. Residents are also invited to join the Urban Park Rangers for free spring tours, visit any of our 300+ miles of hiking trails and birding locations, and more to welcome the season!

“Spring is the most exciting time in our parks, and it stirs a localized wanderlust only experienced through a stroll through one of our greenspaces. Our city continues to recover, and I hope each and every blossom parkgoers see instills a sense of unique beauty and pride towards our parks and city,” said NYC Parks Horticulture Director Matthew Morrow. “As our park flowers begin to poke through the topsoil, I urge New Yorkers to stop and smell the flowers as they visit our parks, and take the season in stride – enjoy its beauty and surprise as it comes!”


5. Magnolias – For many New Yorkers, it’s officially springtime in NYC when magnolia trees are in bloom. Last year, star magnolias (which usually have white or pink and white flowers) were spotted in bloom in Washington Square Park in late March. The saucer magnolia flowers are pink and much larger and were spotted in bloom in early April.

4. Snowdrops – As winter winds down, snowdrops emerge from the frozen ground, usually in January or early February, as one of the earliest signs of spring. This year, snowdrops were spotted in Central Park and Washington Square Park in late January.

3. Eastern Redbud – Unlike all the other flowering plants, eastern redbud flowers grow directly from the branches (not from stems)! Their unique lavender-pink clusters of flower buds look like pom-poms on its branches. Last year, we spotted flowers on an eastern redbud in Carl Schurz Park in mid-April.

2. Red Maple trees – Usually one of the first trees to bloom in NYC, around early March. Look for tiny red buds on the branches. This year, we spotted red maple trees starting to bloom in Central Park during the second week of March.

1. Violets – Look out for tiny violets dotting our parks with their beauty in late spring as we begin to welcome a new season of flowers. Two amazing long beds flank the allee at Borough Hall, where a carpet of violets grow and bloom with the daffodils.

In addition to the Signs of Spring page tracking flowering plants in parks, Parks is welcoming the season with Ranger Tours, a “best places for birding” list, and over 300 miles of hiking trails for New Yorkers to get out and enjoy the spring air all across the city!

Emerge from your winter hibernation with a sunny spring hike with the NYC Parks Urban Park Rangers! Search for buds, blooms, birds, and other signs of spring in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx on the Signs of Spring Hike, or take part in a Spring Scavenger Hunt in Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

There’s no need to head Upstate to experience nature in New York. Plan your next hiking trip right here in New York City, the perfect way to embrace spring! Our 300 miles of trails will take you through some of the oldest forests in the city, and past 10,000 acres of wild and untouched natural areas, glacial potholes, and bedrock you can see and touch! Visit Parks’ Hiking in Parks page for tips on the best hiking trails in the city.

As the birds return to the city from their winter reprieve, there are no better places to catch a glimpse of raptors, songbirds, and rare waterfowl than in parks! New York City is situated on what is known as the Atlantic Flyway, a migratory path that many eastern species of birds follow during spring and fall migration. Some birds make epic journeys, from as far north as the Arctic, all the way to Central and South America. For the best locations to see Owls, Ospreys, Peregrine Falcons, and more of the birds that visit our city in the spring, visit the Birding in NYC Parks page.

Visit Parks’ Spring Fun page for the best ways to celebrate spring and explore fun ways to enjoy the season of flowers in parks.