The Bronx, named after Jonas Bronck who settled there in 1639, is often overlooked as a destination for a day trip. Yet, it’s a pretty quick subway ride, with, perhaps an Uber connection if your feet get tired. And you can fill a day or two, easily, eating and exploring your way through the borough: the Bronx Restaurant Week, known as “Savor the Bronx” runs through November 14, with 25 restaurants participating. Lunch is only $16.41 and dinner is an amazing $20.14. www.savorthebronx.com.
courtesy Julie Larsen Maher WCSNot Just for Kids: The Bronx Zoo has something for everyone no matter the season. “Boo at the Zoo” was a big hit last month but you can watch the penguin feedings any time of the year or duck into the World of Reptiles to escape the cold and marvel at the gigantic pythons and the tiny dart frogs. And there’s much more. Upcoming events include an ice carving week in late December, with professional carvers creating sculptures of wildlife from the Amazon Rainforest. Also, the holiday carolers, a tradition at the zoo, will be returning. Other faves are JungleWorld, an Asian-themed warm-climate space where otters, gibbons and 800 other animals roam; Tiger Mountain and Madagascar! General admission tickets are $16, with reduced rates for children. Open daily from 10am-4:30pm. 2300 Southern Boulevard, 718-220-5100; http://bronxzoo.com
Stop and Smell the Chrysanthemums: No trip to the Bronx is complete without a visit to The New York Botanical Gardens. Year-round exhibits and programs encompass more than 50 landscapes and gardens within the 250-acre space. With more than a million plants, the diverse collection draws large crowds for the upcoming Holiday Train Show and the Orchid Show in February. Fall walks in the forests and gardens are particularly invigorating. Tuesday through Sunday, 10am–6pm. Check the website for ticket pricing. Bronx River Parkway at Fordham Road, 718-817-8700; http://nybg.org/
Eat, Eat, Eat: Restaurants up and down the Bronx offer their fare at great prices all year long, not just during “Savor the Bronx.” A surprise to both NYC residents and visitors alike, City Island is a 1½- mile strip of land that offers a variety of seafood restaurants in a boat-friendly residential area. If you close your eyes, you just might think you’ve arrived in a New England fishing village. Well, almost. Try Sammy’s Fish Box Lobster House, a fixture since 1966, with a menu as large as the portions. 41 City Island Avenue, City Island 718-885-0920; https://sammysfishbox.com/
Mario's Arthur Avenue
Arthur Avenue is the real Italian neighborhood of New York City, a thriving hub of Italian food and culture. Distinctive from Manhattan’s Little Italy where Albanians and Chinese have largely taken over the formerly Italian residences and restaurants, this area is populated by generations of Italians with deep roots to the mother land. Arthur Avenue is considered more “authentic” throughout and the place where Italian restaurateurs and local families shop. Check out the many food stores and the indoor retail market building with vendors selling breads, pasta, gelato, sauces and fresh meats from Italy. Restaurants like Mario's are family-friendly and serve copious portions Many, like the ever-popular Dominick’s, have no menus – just ask for your favorite dish or let the server surprise you with the evening’s specialty. A definite go-to is Mike’s Deli where you can stock up on items to prepare at home or put together a meal to eat on the spot with cured meats, sweets, olive oil, bread and other Italian specialties. 2334 and 2344 Arthur Avenue, http://arthuravenue.com/.