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      Travel Guide to Visiting the Central Park Area

 

 

 

 

  

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Central Park

Central Park at night

 

Opened in 1857 (America’s first public park) and modified over the last century, Central Park  is a National Historic Landmark that comprises over 840 acres of parkland in the heart of New York City.

Central Park runs east-west between Fifth Avenue and Central Park West and north-south from Central Park North (110th Street) to Central Park South (W. 59th Street).  It is reputed to be the most visited city-style park in the United States with over 35 million visitors each year.

Approximately six-miles of drives and 58 miles of pedestrian paths within the park are used for a variety of recreational purpose, as well as  transportation.  The drives and paths are connected by 36 bridges and arches that help make negotiating the park quite utilitarian.

 

Strawberry Fields in Central Park is the memorial to John Lennon of Beatles fameOver 50 fountains, monuments and statues are scattered through Central Park for your viewing pleasure, including Cleopatra’s Needle, which once graced the Heliopolis in Egypt around 1450 B.C.

Central Park's Strawberry Fields  is New York's memorial to John Lennon and  is one of the most visited locations in the Park. It's located across from the Dakota Building where John and Yoko lived and where John was assassinated.  

To a large extent, the glory of Central Park is the opportunity it provides to escape the  fast pace of New York.  A recent poll conducted by  the Central Park Conservancy, the organization that administers the Park, revealed that  the canopy of leaves produced by the Mall’s stand of  American Elms (one of the largest and last remaining in North America) was voted by New Yorkers as one of the most enjoyable and memorable sections of the Park.

A carriage ride is a great way to experience Central ParkThe official website of Central Park can be found here and includes details on the park and its many attractions.

While roaming Central Park, you might want to visit the compact but interesting Central Park Zoo located at  64th Street and Fifth Avenue.

The Zoo's collection includes over 150 species of animals including sea lions, polar bears and  snow leopards. The Central Park Zoo is open year round from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and slightly later in the day from April to October.  The official website of the Central Park Zoo is located here.

 

The American Museum of Natural History

          The American Museum of Natural History is a wonderful way to spend a day in New York

Founded in 1869, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) is one of the most famous museums in the world. It is located in a sprawling campus in Theodore Roosevelt Park  on Manhattan’s Upper West Side across from Central Park.

TThe Hall of Dinosaurs is just one of the many interesting attractions at AMNHhe AMNH has a large number of interesting permanent exhibits and numerous periodic exhibits, so check with the Museum’s website to see what’s on during your visit. Be sure to ascend to the fourth floor to see the Fossil Halls and the world-famous Dinosaur Halls that draw particular attention from most visitors.

Other favorites include: 1) the Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites that contains a number of superb specimens, including a massive 34-ton meteorite fragment, 2) the 94-foot blue whale model in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, while 3)  those interested in geology should plan to spend time in the Gottesmann Hall of Planet Earth.

The Rose Center for Earth and Space, one of the most interesting sections of the Museum, is on the north side of the Museum at West 81st Street (just west of Central Park West).  Its Hayden Planetarium currently hosts a show about space titled  “Journey to the Stars”.  It is narrated by Whoopi Goldberg and  is a fabulous presentation focused on the origins of the universe.  We recommend this show to  all visitors to the museum (and it is included in price of entry, but you need to have a ticket for a specific show time). 

"Journey to the Stars" is a popular venue and tickets may be scarce, especially on  weekends.  You can reserve seats in advance by calling 212-769-5200 or clicking this link to the Space Show.   Tickets are available at the museum every day, but when crowds are large, the available tickets may have been claimed shortly after the Museum opens. The Space Show is scheduled every half-hour starting around 10:30 a.m. and continuing until closing.

The American Museum of Natural History is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.  For information on visiting and the types of tickets, as well as their cost, see this page of the official AMNH website.  While you can buy tickets online at the museum website, you will also be tagged with a service charge of $4 for each ticket, a fee that can be avoided by buying your tickets at any of the admission desks at the museum. Remember though, that buying in advance on the web can help you see "Journey to the Stars", rather than be disappointed if you wait to purchase your tickets at the Museum.

The Museum is located at 79th Street and Central Park West and reachable by public transportation.  The main entrance for the Rose Center for Earth and Space is located on 81st street between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West.

 

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