TRAVEL GUIDE: UPTOWN, CENTRAL PARK, HARLEM, NYC, USA
Day 5 had arrived, and after 4 days of intense NYC sightseeing, we were ready to get out in to some open space and breathe fresh air. In Manhattan there is only really one place where you can do that, and it’s Central Park.
We were really looking forward to exploring central park, and we weren’t at all disappointed. As we entered the park from the south west corner on 59th Street we were immediately taken aback by the stunning views and scenery, and the sheer contrast between city and nature. We made our way down the path towards The Pond and Gapstow Bridge, which is a scene taken directly from a postcard! From there we walked up the east side of the park and simply took in wonderful scenery around us. One of the well-known sights on this route is the Alice in Wonderland Statue parallel to 75th Street which was in a beautiful setting surrounded by trees with pink blossom.
From there we carried on our adventure and made our way to 82nd Street where the Metropolitan Museum of Art is located, commonly known as The Met.
Just outside the Met, we crossed paths with an older man and his son taking a walk through the park and we stopped them to ask them where the entrance is located. They were very helpful and also told us that the Met is a museum where you can spend your whole life. Needless to say we had high expectations at this stage. They also informed us that most New Yorkers don’t pay the suggested admission fee of $26, but instead give $5 or $10, which is what we did too.
The Met is the biggest art museum in the US and has one of the most renowned collections anywhere in the world. The museum has a humungous auditorium and is organised over a number of floors. The gentlemen we met outside were right, you really could spend your whole life in there! The museum was one of the best we’ve visited and we spent almost 4 hours browsing the hallways.
From the Met we made our way up to 88th Street where the Guggenheim Museum is located. The Guggenheim features impressionist, post-impressionist, early modern and contemporary art collections and the design and architecture of the museum itself is unique, with its winding floors which almost resemble the ramp in a car park. We really enjoyed the exhibitions on display and at the time we visited, many German artists and their works were featured.
After a great time at the Guggenheim, we made our way 2 streets north to the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. The museum is the only one in the US dedicated to historical and contemporary design. We would have loved to stop here too, but unfortunately time didn’t allow us to, so we carried on our journey.
The next stop was the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir which is a huge lake spanning right across Central Park. The reservoir is surrounded by a path called the Shuman Running Track, very popular with NYC joggers. We walked all the way around the reservoir to the other side of Central Park, which is a really enjoyable and relaxing walk.
Now on the west side of Central Park, we headed down to 79th Street, where the American Museum of Natural History is located. This museum is a must see, and not just because it features in the Ben Stiller movies – Night at the Museum! The museum is one of the largest anywhere in the world and takes you on a journey through time and continents. The entrance fee here is also discretionary, and we gave $10 per person. You could spend hours in this museum too, unfortunately we didn’t have that much time as the museum was due to close, so we did the express route.
With the museum visit behind us, we made our way north towards Harlem. Our goal was The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Devine located at 112th Street. By this time the weather was hot and the walk took around an hour and a half, but once we reached the cathedral we were happy we had done it. It is the world’s largest Anglican cathedral and it really is spectacular to see. However, we wouldn’t say that it is a must see if you haven’t got time or cannot reach the location. This was the most northerly point we had been to during our time in NYC and it’s unlikely you’d go any further north as a tourist.
After we’d seen the cathedral we rewarded ourselves with a Frappuccino from Starbucks and made our way back to Central Park where we had a long walk ahead of us to the Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Opera, which is an extremely large performing arts complex on 66th Street. It hosts many notable performing arts organisations, which are nationally and internationally renowned, including the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, and the New York City Ballet. It is a very diverse place and the programme looks amazing, although we unfortunately didn’t have tickets to a performance.
By now it was the evening and was starting to get dark, so we made our way back down towards our hotel on 42nd Street. We’d had another really productive day and had seen and learnt so much in the museums. But we also had the chance to clear our minds and relax in the park; and we’d definitely recommend structuring your day this way too.
Until next time…