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Right down the street from the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is not only one of those necessary green safety valves, it’s also quite an innovative garden in many ways. It was the first in the world to have a "children’s garden," allowing local kids to develop green thumbs (it’s still here, along with a fun play area for youngsters). There’s also a "fragrance garden" for sight-impaired visitors, where everyone is encouraged to sniff and touch the plants; and an authentic Japanese garden, complete with a large pond, pagodas, and plants from that area of the world. The best time of year to visit is spring, when the gardens’ many cherry trees are in bloom, though there are seasonal displays, both outdoors and in the on-site greenhouses, year-round.