2/5 NYC: Uptown
"New York is Always a Good Idea"
I've been to New York 15 times and still long to go back! There's so much that I want to cover about visiting New York that I had to create a NYC series of posts for my website. This post will focus on Uptown NYC.
For an overall introduction on visiting New York (tips on getting around the city, tours, museums to check out, etc.) then please read my Overview of NYC post. Click here for my full NYC series to date.
In such a busy city, with a huge demand for space, Central Park is very impressive in size and acts as a peaceful relief from the chaos that surrounds it. Every so often you are still reminded of the hustle and bustle happening close by when you catch a glimpse of the towering skyscrapers above the trees. The Park stretches over 3 avenues in width and all the way from 59th Street to 110th Street in length. It is a must-see for tourists! I've been lucky enough to see the Park both during Summer and Winter months. It was especially magical when I was there early one Winter morning when it was covered in a blanket of snow!
Check out The Central Park website for events that may be taking place during your visit. Some of the many things to discover while wandering through the Park are games of tennis, volleyball, softball, and basketball. There is also a Carousel, playgrounds, Model Boat Sailing, the beautiful Bow Bridge, and the famous Strawberry Fields (memorial to John Lennon who was murdered close by at the Dakota Building). Delacorte Theatre and Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre can be found in the Park too and here you may find theater, concerts, and puppet shows taking place. There are also several places to dine in the Park.
Surrounding Central Park is some of the most expensive properties in New York. Billionaires Row is located close by Central Park (57th Street) and you will find luxurious residential skyscrapers along here.
LOEB BOATHOUSE, BETHESDA SQUARE & BOAT RIDE
Bethesda Fountain is found in Bethesda Square and is one of the central locations in the Park. Here is where you will see the beautiful Angel of the Waters statue acting as a centerpiece to the Bethesda fountain. This is a popular meeting place in the Park...and where I have even spotted several wedding photos being taken!
The extremely popular Loeb Boathouse restaurant is found close by the iconic Bethesda Square. The Boathouse is a beautiful location where you can enjoy some food while taking in views of the Central Park lake. If you want to visit the Boathouse but are on a budget then you can visit its Express Cafe. This is also part of the Boathouse though not its main restaurant. We quickly grabbed a bite to eat in here to top us up while exploring the Park. Also, one item still on my list is to book a boat ride on the lake which you can book from the Boathouse!
GETTING AROUND THE PARK
Another very touristy thing to do in New York is to take a Horse and Carriage Ride through Central Park. You will find them lined up along the southern entrance to the Park (opposite the Plaza hotel and Apple store). For me personally, and as a 20 year vegetarian, I would no longer choose to take a horse and carriage ride because I have realized more and more as I've got older that I don't like the use of animals purely for human entertainment. However, many years ago I did take a carriage ride on two of my first visits to New York; the first time our guide was super friendly and pointed out several landmarks and movie set locations along the way. The second time the guide barely spoke to us...so it seems to be hit and miss when you grab a guide at the last minute.
Also, I believe that walking and bike rides are a better way to see Central Park because the horse and carriage rides only touch through a small section of the Park. I would advise anyone who wishes to see a large portion of the Park to rent a bike.
Walking tours are also available in the Park, or just grab a map and walk it yourself. If you want to see a lot then I would advise on pre-planning your route and having a map at hand because Central Park is vast and can be difficult to navigate at times.
I visited Belvedere Castle when Central Park was covered in a blanket of snow, it was quite a magical experience to see the views in this way from the majestic castle setting. The miniature castle provides beautiful views over the Great Lawn and Ramble areas within the Park. The Parks visitor center and a gift shop are found within the castle too. Plus, it is free to enter!
As mentioned, Angels of the Waters is a beautiful sculpture that is the centerpiece on top of the Bethesda Fountain. It is one of the most famous sculptures in the Park. One of the other 29 sculptures which are very popular is that of Alice in Wonderland. This sculpture is found north of the Conservatory Water Pond (where the Model Boat Sailing is found); I love this area of the Park and find it very peaceful on a Summer evening! Live jazz musicians were performing by the pond in the evening that I visited here. It was one of my favorite moments in Central Park!
As an Irish person, it is worth mentioning the sculpture of Victor Herbert (an Irish born German raised in America) who was a composer, cellist, and conductor. Balto (Alaskan Sleigh Dog) and Hans Christian Anderson are two more popular sculptures. Click here for a list of all of the sculptures found in Central Park.
There's even a small Zoo found within the grounds of Central Park. You can stroll through its gift shop for free and buy some lovely animal teddies and memorabilia of the Central Park Wildlife Center.
THE PLAZA HOTEL
The Plaza Hotel is located opposite the entrance to Central Park at The Pulitzer Fountain (59th Street). Many films and t.v. shows have been shot here and the iconic Plaza is well known as a world leader in hotels. There used to be free tours of the hotel but unfortunately, these seem to be no more! However, you can still take a wander in and stroll through the Shops at The Plaza or, enjoy some dining at The Plaza Food Hall or Todd English at The Plaza.
Madison Avenue offers high-end shopping (such as Chloe, Hermes, Chanel, etc.) and is located just an avenue away from Central Park.
Bloomingdales 815,000 square-foot flagship store is located just three Avenues from Central Park at 59th and Lexington Ave. This famous department store (where Rachel worked in Friends!) is a dream for upscale shopping and has a Magnolia Bakery for when you need a cupcake sugar rush for all of the shopping that you do! Not too far from Bloomingdales is another popular sweet store, Sprinkles Cupcakes, which until recently even had a cupcake ATM outside of it!! There is still another of these ATMs located in the city so check out their website for more details! Dylan's Candy Bar is located opposite Bloomingdales...read on for more details on this fabulous candy store!
For designer vintage shopping at a discount, check out Designer Revival on 81st Street. This store is quite far up but it's not too far from the MET museum so it's worth dropping into to check out any deals if you are in this area!
The Shops at Columbus Circle offer over 50 retail shops and boutiques and are located right at the corner of Central Park (59th Street & Eighth Avenue) at Columbus Circle. Here you will also find a statue of Christopher Columbus sitting on top of a monument in the center of the square and The Columbus Circle Globe sculpture. Spot The Empire Hotel in the background of the Globe photo too (Gossip Girls fans will be familiar with this hotel!)!
MUSEUM OF ARTS & DESIGN
The Museum of Arts & Design is located at Columbus Circle - opposite to The Shops at Columbus Circle. I wasn't expecting the museum to be focused so much on the craft and design side of art; personally, I am not a huge fan of the craft side so I preferred The Whitney, Guggenheim, MoMA, etc. However, I still enjoyed my trip here.
AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
The American Museum of Natural History is one of the largest Natural History museums in the world! It is located in a beautiful Art Beaux building along the West side of Central Park (at 79th Street). The museum consistently receives great reviews, an abundance of visitors, and it impressively contains more than 30 million artifacts! If you are a fan of astrophysics then you are sure to enjoy the impressive Rose Center for Earth & Space. Another popular section of the museum is the Butterfly Conservancy (Nov-May) which contains more than 600 butterflies.
I was happy to have visited here but, I wouldn't tend to be a huge fan of Natural History Museums, so at times I was slightly bored. I did still spend a lot longer than I had expected to here though! The museum is very big, 1.5 million square feet, so if you are a science lover then you should put a lot of time aside to spend here because there is a lot of space to cover!
Another famous building close by Central Park is Lincoln Center. Lincoln Centre houses the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet, and Juilliard School of Music among others. It is located a block from the Park at 64th Street and Columbus Avenue.
I called by the Center one year when fashion week was being held in it and I got to see them prep. for some of the fashion events!
Museum Mile is also found along Central Park. It is located at the section of 5th Avenue which runs along the East side of the Park. This stretch of street contains many famous museums. I have been lucky enough to visit three of them so far! See below for a full list of the museums along Museum Mile and also for a summary of my visit to the three that I visited!
El Museo del Barrio 105th St.
The Jewish Museum 92nd St.
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum (part of the Smithsonian Institution) 91st St.
The Guggenheim Museum 88th St.
Neue Galerie 86th St.
Metropolitan Museum of Art 82nd St.
I love the Guggenheim and have visited two exhibitions here! I enjoy this museum because it exhibits work from the 20th and 21st century and I am a fan of contemporary and modern art. Fans of architecture would also enjoy a visit to this impressive modern structural building as the building itself is a work of art too...both inside and outside! Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece of modern architecture stands out along the perimeter of Central Park due to how the spiral building is so vastly different from the surrounding high rise buildings in this part of the city.
Even my mam enjoyed walking around the Guggenheims impressive interior though she is not a big art lover. The winding climb up through the circular levels of the building is relaxing and enjoyable and you are constantly able to view down to the concourse of the building and admire the architecture of the museum setting. Works by Picasso, Kandinsky, Pollock, Monet, Degas, and Van Gogh have all been shown here. I visited a Christopher Wool exhibition on one of my trips and it had such an effect on me that I became a big fan of his work ever since. I even submitted a review of this exhibition as part of my final college work at the time (click here to read my review).
THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART (Met)
I visited The Met on my first trip to NYC many years ago and I am overdue another trip back to it! It is the largest art museum in the United States, and so you will likely need to allocate a lot of time visiting here. The museum not only holds some very famous paintings, but it also exhibits other artwork such as ceramics, jewelry, weapons, armory, musical instruments, costumes, and accessories. A rooftop garden bar can be found on the top floor of the museum where you can enjoy a drink overlooking the beautiful views of Central Park.
THE FRICK COLLECTION
The Frick Collection holds an impressive collection of old master paintings and fine furniture. The museum makes for an interesting insight into how mansion houses of the Upper East Side were lived in during the 20th Century. I enjoyed my trip here but I wouldn't go out of my way to visit it on one of my first trips to the city. If you are interested, its website provides a great alternative to visiting the museum. Click here to take a virtual tour of the museum!
ROOSEVELT ISLAND TRAMWAY
If you are in the Upper East Side (not too far from the East Side corner of Central Park and very close to Bloomingdales) then it is worth noting that you can take a cable car ride over to Roosevelt Island for just the cost of a subway trip! Again, I wouldn't go out of my way to take this ride because many of the most famous buildings of NYC skyline are not visible from this part of the sky. However, it is a great experience if you have not been on a cable car before and a fun thing to do if you are in the area. It is definitely worthwhile taking the ride if you find yourself in the Upper East Side and it is also a cheap thing to do in the city (you use a subway card to hop on the cable car).
If you are in this part of the city, close by you will also find Dylan's Candy Bar. Sweet lovers will definitely want to visit here!
DYLANS CANDY BAR
Dylan's Candy Bar was founded by Ralph Lauren's daughter and this flagship store has remained on a variety of “Top 10” lists of New York City tourist attractions since its inception, welcoming over 2 million visitors per year. All types of famous people, ranging from Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey to Al Pacino and Tom Cruise, have visited the store and there is even a section of the store dedicated to autographs whereby celebrities have signed their favorite sweets from the store. The decor is very pop art-inspired and it also hosts an Ice Cream and Dessert Parlor, Candy Cocktail Bar, and Party Rooms.
If you have time to take a walk up around the Upper East or West Side you will notice that there is a lot of beautiful architecture to be found up there! Also, if it's a walk along the river that you wish for then the Upper West Sides Riverside Park (West 72nd - 129th Street and Riverside Drive) should make for a nice walk.
Another famous location in Uptown, which is considered to be the most prestigious concert stage in the USA, is Carnegie Hall. It is located two blocks from Central Park at 57th Street and Seventh Avenue. You can take both public and private tours of Carnegie Hall, click here for more details.
Let me know if you have any tips for trip number 16 to NYC!
Thanks for reading,
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