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It's the only New York City borough connected to the US mainland and it's jam-packed with things to do and see. The annual Bronx Week festival runs from 10th - 20th May 2012, so if you're in New York at this time - or any time - we say get yourselves up north to the Bronx, pronto. Here's five reasons why...
The largest metropolitan zoo in the United States
The Bronx Zoo is one of New York's most popular attractions, with more than 4,000 animals housed on its 265 acres. There's an extensive daily schedule of feedings and demonstrations, world class exhibits like the Congo Gorilla Forest, Tiger Mountain, the Sea Lion Pool and latest attraction Madagascar!, and plenty of extra-curricular events throughout the year.
During the Bronx Week festival this year, the Zoo is running a Family Sleepover with a delicious barbecue overlooking the Chilean flamingos and the opportunity to meet and greet some of the animals up close.
Bronx Zoo, 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10460. For public transport see these directions.
The Yankee Stadium tour
Love 'em or loathe 'em, the Yankees are one of the most famous sports teams in the world. The new Yankees stadium opened in April 2009, and on a guided tour you'll be able to admire the enormity of the most expensive baseball stadium ever built, and admire the ballpark from Monument Park - an open-air museum where the retired numbers and plaques honouring Yankee greats like Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Lou Gehrig are displayed.
Both individual tours ($20 per person) and group tours ($15 per person) are available.
Yankee Stadium, 161st St. and River Avenue, Bronx.
Learn about hip hop with Hush Tours
The Bronx is the birthplace of hip hop culture and Hush Tours have been enlightening visitors since 2002, earning a reputation as the leading company to offer sightseeing and cultural tours.
The 4-hour all-encompassing Birthplace of Hip Hop tour is led by genuine New York emcees and covers various historic clubs and video location sites in midtown Manhattan, Harlem and the Bronx, including the Graffiti Wall of Fame, Apollo Theater and Rucker Park. Alternatively, the 3-hour Bronx Hip Hop tour is a more intimate journey through west, east, north and south Bronx with a detailed look at where Hip Hop planted its roots, plus stops at the former houses and hangouts of many pioneering DJs, MCs, B-Boys and graffiti artists.
Visit the New York Botanical Garden
It's one of the most famous attractions in the Bronx, and there's hardly a better time to visit the New York Botanical Garden than right now in spring. Azaleas, crabapples, lilacs and flowering dogwoods are all in full bloom, the seasonal three-acre Rock Garden has just re-opened and is bursting with alpine flowers and woodland plants, and the 250-acre old-growth Native Forest is teeming with a broad range of resident and migratory birds, including nesting great horned owls and red-tailed hawks.
Opening on 19 May and running until October, Monet's Garden is a spectacular tribute to French Impressionist Claude Monet, featuring an interpretation of the gardens that inspired his paintings, which will change throughout the seasons. Two rarely-viewed Monet paintings will also be on display, one of which has never been seen in the United States.
NYBG, 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10458. For public transport see these directions.
Wander Arthur Avenue - The Bronx's own Little Italy
Just south of the Botanical Gardens, Arthur Avenue runs north to south through the Belmont neighbourhood of the Bronx. The area is known for the high quality and great value of its fantastic assortment of Italian-American restaurants, delis, grocers, pasta-makers, butchers, fish markets, bakeries, gourmet coffeehouses and other shops and services.
Author Don DiLillo was raised here, and it's said that Joe Pesci began his acting career after being discovered by Robert De Niro when he was working at a local neighbourhood restaurant. The sheer number of stores and variety of sights and smells make it an ideal hotspot for lovers of Italian-American culture and cuisine and visitors looking for an alternative, authentic New York experience.
Arthur Avenue, Bronx, New York. Visit BronxLittleItaly.com for more information.
Virgin Atlantic operate five daily flights to New York from London Heathrow.
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About the author: MaxineMaxine Sheppard
Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.