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25 Things to Do Near the American Museum of Natural History

After visiting the American Museum of Natural History, explore attractions on the Upper West Side or in Central Park.

Visitors to New York often run around from one major tourist site to the next, sometimes from one side of the city to the other, and in the process, exhaust themselves thoroughly. Ambitious itineraries often include something like coffee in the Village in the morning, lunch near MoMA, a couple of hours in the museum, a ride on the Staten Island Ferry in the afternoon, cocktails at the midtown hotel, a quick dinner, and then a Broadway show. It's a wonder people don't pass out at the theater.

While sitting on the steps of the American Museum of History, consider exploring the Upper West Side and nearby sites of interest in Central Park.

There's a better way to plan a New York trip. Consider grouping attractions together geographically. Several posts on this site address this recommended approach.

The Wild West of the Tecumseh Playground
Grouping attractions together within a geographical area has several advantages. First, knocking around the area near a particular museum fosters a better sense of the neighborhood. For example, all New Yorkers know that the vibe of the Upper East Side is quite different from that of the Upper West Side. Wander the residential streets and businesses in these areas, and you'll pick up on it.

You could spend several hours inside The American Museum of Natural History, especially if you include the whole stargazing planetarium experience (and you should). In planning your visit, consider the opportunity to get to know more of the Upper West Side. If you're inspired by the wonders of the natural world inside the museum, then go forth into Central Park. It's as easy as crossing the street. 

The list below includes places of interest on the Upper West Side as well as recommendations for Central Park. The map includes several options for food and drink.
  
Places of Interest on the Upper West Side (13)

1. New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West at 77th St. New York's first museum (1904) presents influential exhibitions about the national history through the lens of New York City. Renovated in 2011, the updated museum includes an excellent gift shop and restaurant. 

2. GreenFlea Market, 100 W 77th St. Treasure hunting and quick eats. Open Sundays only 10am-5:30pm.

The Bow Bridge
3. San Remo Apartments, 145 Central Park West. The twin towers, topped with temples. Emery Roth, architect. 1929-1930

4. Tecumseh Playground, W. 78th Street and Amsterdam Ave. A little "Monument Valley" playground in the middle of the Upper West Side.

5. The Apthorp, 2211 Broadway. A landmarked condominium apartment building designed by Clinton & Russell for William Waldorf Astor in Italian Renaissance style. A favorite for celebrities past and present. 1906-1908.

6. First Baptist Church, 265 W 79th St and Broadway. Architect: George Keister; 1890-1893. This fascinating church building at the corner of Broadway at 79th Street attracts attention for its eclectic and theatrical Italian Romanesque design. A surprising challenge to the conventional notions of a Baptist church, the structure features fanciful classical spires and a large rose window above the entrance.

7. Verdi Square, at the convergence of Broadway, Amsterdam, an W. 73rd, is a nice small park featuring a statue of Giuseppe Verdi by sculptor Pasquale Civiletti.

The Ansonia

8. The Ansonia, 2109 Broadway. Style: Beaux-Arts. One of the grand apartment buildings on the Upper West Side. Home to many famous actors and sports figures in the early decades of the 20th century, among them actress and good witch Billie Burke. Born in the US, Burke moved to London where her family settled, and she decided to become an actress while seeing plays in the West End. She lived in the Ansonia with husband Florence Ziegfeld

9. Beacon Theatre, 2124 Broadway, restored landmark. A major concert venue.

10. The Dakota, 1 W. 72nd St. The fairest of all apartment buildings is The Dakota. Built in 1884 by developer Edward Severin Clark and designed by Henry J. Hardenbergh (also The Plaza, 1907) The Dakota blends an eclectic mixture of European styles - Victorian, Gothic, and French. The dining room on the first floor was modeled on a similar one in an English manor house.

Judy Garland lived in The Dakota in early 1961. Other famous residents include Leonard Bernstein, Lauren Bacall, José Ferrer, Boris Karloff, Carson McCullers, William Inge, Rudolf Nureyev, Yoko Ono, and John Lennon.

Hotel Belleclaire
11. Hotel Belleclaire, 250 W 77th St., dating from 1901-1903, is an exquisite Belle Epoque building, designed by Emery Roth in 1903, with several Art Nouveau features. The hotel would make an excellent choice for exploring the area. Hotel website.
 
12. The Lucerne, 201 W 79th St. Luxury hotel in a landmarked building from 1904. The French-Mediterranean restaurant and cafe, Nice Matin, holds down the corner. Hotel website.

13. The Beresford at 211 Central Park West (1929) is a grand building with angels and winged cherubs on its walls.

Places of Interest in Central Park (12)

14. Shakespeare Garden. Seasonal plantings accompanied by quotations from the Bard.

Belvedere Castle

15. Belvedere Castle. An architectural folly created by park co-designer Calvert Vaux (last name rhymes with "socks"), offers an excellent high view of the Park below.

16. The Ramble. A 38-acre site of wild woods, outcroppings of rock, man-made rustic features, and confusing trails, all set to the tune of birds, sits roughly between 78th St. on the north and 73rd St. on the south.

17. Summit Rock. Climb up the highest point in Central Park and enjoy sitting on one of the rustic benches.

18. Strawberry Fields. Memorial for John Lennon, who lived in the nearby Dakota building.

19. Discovery Trail: Trees. Learn how to identify trees by following this path.

20. Bow Bridge. The cast-iron bridge is one of the most romantic and photographed bridges in the park.

21. Bethesda Fountain. Angel of the Waters (1873), also known as Bethesda Fountain, is a commanding sculpture by Emma Stebbins (1815-1882) in Central Park and is arguably the city's best-known angel.

Ladies' Pavilion

22. Ladies' Pavilion. Lovely Victorian pavilion overlooking The Lake. Originally located near the park corner at Central Park West and 59th (location of the Maine Monument), the structure was used as a shelter for trolley passengers. 

23. Delacorte Theater. Home to The Public Theatre's Shakespeare in the Park.

24. Great Lawn. The Great Lawn in Central Park fills the space once occupied by the massive Croton Reservoir. The lawn is the great green heart of the park, site of many famous concerts and events.

25. Arthur Ross Pinetum. An outcropping of pine trees creates a fanciful evergreen spot in Central Park. Pretty in winter, soothing in summer.

Recommended Eating and Drinking - See map.

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