When you think of New York City, you probably think of Times Square, the Empire State Building and maybe even the Statue of Liberty. Nature-based attractions probably aren't the first thing that come to mind. But that may soon change with the opening of Brooklyn Botanic Garden's new Discovery Garden — a one-acre plot of land in the heart of NYC dedicated to giving kids of all ages a hands-on feel for nature.

The Discovery Garden, which opened just a few weeks ago, has lots of interactive exhibits and great open spaces where kids can get in tune with the natural world. Kids can clamber on boulders, follow animal footprints as they hop from log to log, dig in the soil, examine plants close-up, and even build their own birds' nests.

Brooklyn Botanic's Discovery GardenKids build their own bird nests at the Discovery Garden. (Photo: Liz Ligon/Brooklyn Botanic Garden)

Brooklyn Botanic's Discovery GardenA young visitor explores the Woodland area in the Discovery Garden. (Photo: Liz Ligon/Brooklyn Botanic Garden)

Brooklyn Botanic's Discovery GardenKids are encouraged to touch things at the Discovery Garden's Curiosity Table. (Photo: Lee Patrick/Brooklyn Botanic Garden)

The garden was designed with kids in mind — with lots of plants and exhibits designed for the eye-level of a three-foot tall guest. Paul Seck, of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the landscape architecture firm that designed the garden, explained how the space was designed to appeal to pint-sized naturalists.

"The Children's Discovery Garden is designed for the scale and perspective of children," Seck said. "To a child, the elevated boardwalk in the Forest area feels as though it is high up in the tree tops due to its proximity to large existing trees, but in reality it is only 30 inches from the ground at its tallest point."

And though the focus is definitely kid-centric, parents are encouraged to get in on the fun too with daily exhibits and Family Discovery Weekends.

Brooklyn Botanic's Discovery GardenParents and kids can play along together in many of the Discovery Garden's exhibits. (Photo: Liz Ligon/Brooklyn Botanic Garden)

So the next time you're in NYC, break up the metropolitan sightseeing with this nature-friendly activity.

Related on MNN:

A tree (and so much more) grows in Brooklyn
New Discovery Garden brings nature and a sense of curiosity to the heart of the city.