Nature in the Big City

This weekend I went to two zoos, a castle, a lake, an amusement park and the beach.  All without leaving New York City.

My dad came into the city for the weekend as kind of a birthday present for himself.  We crammed more into the weekend than I would have ever imagined possible.  My dad and I are great travel companions because we’re both pretty easygoing.  We never stressed about time or distance, we just walked.  We stopped when we were hungry; we chose our next destination on a whim.

It was amazing.

When you’re in Prospect Park, Coney Island or Central Park, it’s hard to imagine that you’re in one of the biggest cities in the world.  It’s really the best of both worlds. Nature only when you want it.

Sometimes it’s nice to sit on a stone wall and watch the ocean dance at the shoreline while feeling the sun warming your skin.

But sometimes you just want to stay in an air conditioned restaurant or bookstore.

Sometimes it’s fun to walk across the grass and stop on a bridge, looking down at a lake full of ducks, feeling the wind in your hair.

Other times it’s nice to grab a coffee on one block, go shopping on the next and get your nails done on the next.

In Central Park, you can see the skyline of the city from most parts of the park.  So you can be looking at the Belvedere Castle and some high-rise apartment buildings at the same time.  I absolutely love the contrast.  The feeling of being in two worlds at once. In Prospect Park, if you go deep enough, the trees totally obscure the surrounding city and it’s like you’ve left New York entirely.

Coney Island itself is a new discovery for me.  I had never been there and I really wasn’t sure what to expect.  It’s literally an amusement park on the beach. It’s the stuff childhood is made of.  What’s great about it is that it’s pay-per-activity, not admission.  So you can wander between the roller coasters and the rides that defy gravity that send excitement through your veins just looking at them.  You can duck into an arcade or win your daughter a stuffed tiger at a water gun carnival game.  You can go on one ride, all of the rides, or no rides at all.  You can walk down the boardwalk and watch a man with a snake around his neck put his pet parrots on people’s arms.  You can get a hot dog (or chicken tenders) from the original Nathans, home of the Fourth of July hotdog eating contest.  You can literally spend only the price of the subway to have a great summer day.

We didn’t end up doing any rides this weekend because my dad was afraid he’d get nauseous and I wasn’t about to do rides by myself.  It’s funny, because he was telling me that he is afraid of heights and doesn’t like to do rides, but when I was little, he was always my ride buddy. My mother got motion sickness and my little brother was a wuss.   I guess he was just being brave for me.

So today, my feet and legs are a little sore, my face, chest and shoulders are a little pink and I’m a little exhausted, but it’s all just a reminder of what an amazing, unforgettable weekend I had.

You guys are probably sick of hearing me gush about New York and all its wonders, but I’m not going to stop writing about it until I stop discovering new things to love about it. And I have a feeling that won’t be happening any time soon.

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~ by Valerie Anne on 05/02/2011.

2 Responses to “Nature in the Big City”

  1. I’m so jealous of you.

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