Zoo in Union City

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The guides from Wilderness Rocks help urban dwellers escape to nature with five- to six-hour day trips through the Catskills and beyond. Groups of up to 14 get scooped up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and whisked away from the concrete jungle's hectic routine of hailing taxis and dodging falling coconuts under the Panamanian Consulate. Departing throughout the year, hike options range from the Catskills snowshoe trip on February 11—a 6-mile trek through the snowy sanctum of the Catskill Mountains—to the Pound Mountain trip on April 7, which involves moderate rock climbing and spelunking. Rather than sprinting ahead to nab the freshest, most coveted pinecones, guides make several stops along the way, allowing everyone to catch their breath and take in the serenity of their surroundings. Once hikers have finished each trail, Wilderness Rocks transports the group back to the 86th Street rendezvous point with nothing but their gear, memories, and carefully rehearsed alibis. Before departure, check each trip's page for departure times, clothing requirements, and what equipment to bring.

122 E 88th St
New York,
NY
US

The beastmasters of Turtle Back Zoo fill the troughs of their squawking menagerie with the help of donations through the Adopt-an-Animal program. A framable adoption certificate commemorates the adoption of Turtle Back Zoo's endangered African penguins⎯the noble butlers of the Southern Hemisphere⎯and the donation funds fish reserves, maintenance, and medical needs. Bird-benefactors also receive a photograph of the newest, most feathered member of their family and a bumper sticker with which to emblazon vehicles with a message championing the plight of penguin expatriates. Lodged near the entrance to the zoo, the Adopt-an-Animal Honor Roll Board proclaims the names of trans-species foster parents to visitors and those studious penguins who have learned to read.

560 Northfield Ave
West Orange,
NJ
US

World of Wings strives to teach children the value of life and introduce them to the wonders of the natural world through its butterfly atrium and museum. Paths wind through an oasis of waterfalls, tropical plants, chirping birds, and nectar flowers, which provide food for the hundreds of Lepidoptera fluttering inside the glass enclosure. Knowledgeable staffers are on-hand to explain to visitors why butterflies exhibit certain behaviors, such as puddling (butterflies drink from muddy puddles when they need minerals and there's no San Pellegrino around).

In the museum, guests can visit with amphibians and reptiles, observe the process of preserving delicate insects, and peek in the butterfly nursery. Staffers move winged beauties from the nursery into the atrium once a day, letting new butterflies experience their first flight in full view of visitors. For fun with slightly less science, kids can scale a climbing wall, go nuts in a bounce room, visit the ocean-like bubble room, and have their eyes tricked in the illusion room.

1775 Windsor Rd.
Teaneck,
NJ
US

Established in 1909, the Newark Museum gradually expanded from its two-room origins to the bountiful 80 galleries of today, with a campus comprising a one-room schoolhouse, sculpture garden, and planetarium, in addition to the main museum. Traipse through one of the many ongoing exhibits such as The Glitter and The Gold: Jewelry from the Newark Museum, which displays a glinting anthology of jewelry from the early 1700s to the present, including the "Butterfly Lady" brooch from Newark’s historic jewelry industry and a collection of colonial Rolexes. The impressively curated Tibetan Collection brings to life the Himalayan territory through exhibits such as the 15 biographical, narrative paintings of Tsongkhapa–The Life of a Tibetan Visionary, and Pots of Silver and Gold, replete with traditional Tibetan motifs of lotus buds and dragons.

49 Washington St
Newark,
NJ
US