HoursJan.—Feb.: Wed.—Sun., 8:30 a.m.—5 p.m.; Mon.—Tue., closed;
Mar.—Dec.: daily, 8:30 a.m.—5 p.m.
The Manhattan skyline is still visible through the haze, but you’ll feel a world away when you’re standing in the middle of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is a peaceful natural habitat spread out over 9,155 acres and dozens of little islets, but only the areas called the East and West Ponds are open to the public — the rest is reserved for natural wildlife. More than 335 species of birds and dozens of other animals live in the refuge, which lies between Brooklyn and Queens near Broad Channel and Far Rockaway. Two paths take visitors around the salt marshes and dense woods, home to thousands of migrating ducks and geese. Be sure to bring your bug spray because the mosquitos and horseflies can be vicious.
The recently built eco-friendly visitors center houses exhibits highlighting the Jamaica Bay’s features, and park rangers are always on hand to answer questions. Guided tours are offered year round.