Posts Tagged ‘New York Botanical Garden’

Where to See New York City’s Cherry Blossoms

Put Your Passport Away. You Don’t Need to Leave the Big Apple to See the Glorious Trees.

Many of the city’s cherry trees were gifts from Japan, some coming from the original batch that was given to Washington, DC and adorns their Tidal Basin. The sakura come in a variety of colors from white to pale pink and vivid fuchsia. They stand tall, they spread wide or they droop like weeping willows. For just a few months through the end of May, the varieties of cherry blossom trees bloom on varying schedules, with timing dependent on the weather. Now is the time to see the trees at their most brilliant – like the daffodils and tulips adorning the gardens, the petals will soon be lining the streets.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Esplanade © Micheal Stewart

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The queen of private gardens when it comes to hanami, the Japanese tradition of celebrating the transient beauty of flowers, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden takes the guesswork out of when the cherries are blooming with their Cherry Watch. The schedule is updated frequently so you can see which trees are blooming in which areas, especially helpful if you prefer pink Kanzan ones to whitish Yoshinos, or an allee of trees where you can sit, paint or just meditate.

Japanese-Hill-and-Pond Garden Courtesy Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The two main draws are the aforementioned Cherry Esplanade and the Japanese-Hill-and-Pond Garden. It’s easy to envision yourself swept away to Japan when you look at the lovely trees and a beautiful vermillion torii set against the pond. Adding to the Japanese-inspired setting, the waters are filled with koi as you might see in the Imperial Palace gardens in Tokyo. Through May 9, weekends are enhanced with outdoor pop-up music and dance performances in lieu of the Garden’s traditional Sakura Matsuri (cherry blossom festival) postponed this year due to COVID-19.

Courtesy New York Botanical Garden

New York Botanical Garden

More than 200 cherry trees are scattered throughout the expansive New York Botanical Garden beginning with the entry walkway leading to the first of many colorful sculptures by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, “I Want to Fly to the Universe.” The mix of Japanese art and Japanese cherries creates a transportive effect as you roam the grounds.

Courtesy New York Botanical Garden

The New York Botanical Garden’s Cherries Tracker will help guide your visit so you’ll know where and when to focus your time. Stop to admire the weeping cherries trees and the “Dancing Pumpkin” sculpture in front of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory before meandering along the path in the Cherry Collection. Daffodil Gardens is a beautiful area to admire the season’s varied yellow and white flowers along with the pinks of the cherries.

Central Park Cherry Hill Courtesy centralparknyc.org

Central Park

Central Park has an area called Cherry Hill on 72nd Street but that’s not the only place you’ll find the white-to-pink Yoshino and bright-pink Kwanzan sakura in the elegant park. A map of the cherry trees will help you as you search out your favorites. Central Park’s Yoshino cherries are also a gift from the government of Japan and can be found in abundance on the east side of the Reservoir and behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art as you head towards the Great Lawn. The area is perfect for picnicking with lawn areas and plenty of benches and you’ll see a parade of camera buffs posing against the showy pink and white blossoms.

Visit frequently as the intensity of the petals changes from week to week. For a shaded, dramatic walk, the bridle path from East 84th Street up to Engineer’s Gate flanks you on both sides with lush blooms.

Riverside Park Cherry Walk Courtesy nycgovparks.org

Riverside Park

Notable gifts from Japan to the US in 1912 and later from the Committee of Japanese Residents of New York have created Riverside Park’s gorgeous Cherry Walk. Finally re-opened this winter after a massive reconstruction project, the stretch of the park from 100th to 125th streets is named for the Prunuc cherry trees that line it and is again filled with cyclists and strollers. Reflections off the Hudson River make this an exceptionally beautiful area to spend time and contemplate how lucky you are to be in New York City during this glorious season.

Courtesy Tastings NYC

A Pink Pause

Create a moment to celebrate the trees with food and drink – pink, of course.

Tastings NYC is the master of the portable picnic. To celebrate this beautiful time of the year, the Manhattan hospitality specialists have created the “Cherry Blossom Picnic,” a pretty-in-pink box of cherry blossom-influenced treats. Setting the stage are spring quinoa and roasted chicken, both with touches of pink. The final act is an adorable bag of mini strawberry pound cakes along with a pink beverage, your choice of  a rosé Champagne or a rosé wine.

Courtesy Croteaux

For a touch of pink romance and some virtual hanami, pour a bottle of rosé from New York’s rosé-only vineyard Croteaux. Born on the North Fork of Long Island, Croteaux is perfect for a cherry blossom toast. If you’re not near the North Fork, you can order their varietals online. Then grab a corkscrew and sit back to watch the sunset under the pink petals.

Where to See the Best Holiday Decorations in NYC

It’s a different kind of year for holiday spectaculars, but New York City doesn’t slack when it comes to showing off the joy and sparkles of the season.

Holiday Windows

Saks Fifth Avenue Photo By: Meryl Pearlstein

While the department stores may be emptier than usual this year, they haven’t turned down the volume when it comes to creating a festive holiday showcase on their exteriors. Barneys is missing. Lord & Taylor is no longer. But there’s still plenty to see and love.

Bloomingdale's Photo By: Meryl Pearlstein

The holiday windows at Bloomingdale’s turn and sparkle with colors and glitter. Macy’s windows pay tribute to the many heroes of the year including our frontline workers.  The music and light show on the façade of Saks Fifth Avenue is a must-see, too, if you’re in the vicinity of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. Support the stores, if you can, by shopping in person and acknowledging their good work for the year.

Hudson Yards

Hudson Yards

If you can tear yourself away from The Vessel or down from The Edge (which is also decked out with holiday lights and a garland), you should venture inside the Hudson Yards mall where Shine Bright at Hudson Yards is a brand-new twinkling, floor-to-ceiling display of more than two million lights. Floating hot air balloons and Christmas trees add to the twinkling magic. The display will be up through January 1.

Brookfield Place

Brookfield Place Luminaries

Through January 3, the mall’s annual Luminaries tradition invites participation with an interactive installation in the Winter Garden. Each hour, you’ll enjoy a special light show featuring music by groups like The Bird and the Bee and Pentatonix. A canopy of colorful lights is formed from hundreds of lanterns suspended among the palms. Below, contactless wishing stations let you send a motion-activated wish to the lanterns prompting a magical display of lights and colors. And you’ll be doing a good deed, too. For each wish that you make, Brookfield Place will donate $1to an organization that’s near and dear to me, ROAR (Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants), which supports New York City restaurant employees facing economic challenges as a result of the pandemic.

Lights from Lincoln Center

Lincoln Center - Photos by Sachyn Mital

While the theaters of Lincoln Center remain shuttered until 2021, the exteriors are still ablaze with lights. The gateway to Lincoln Center, Josie Robertson Plaza is illuminated in purple, red and pink tones. Adding further holiday merriment, lanterns float on the reflecting pool and lights adorn the trees in the back campus.

The Lights of Dyker Heights

Dyker Heights in Brooklyn Photo By: Meryl Pearlstein

It’s hard to imagine a Christmas without the over-the-top lights displays of the houses in Dyker Heights in Brooklyn. Started in 1986 by Lucy Spata as a give-back to brighten up the neighborhood, the decorated homes and yards have attracted busloads of tourists to the streets each year. Due to COVID, you may have an easier time viewing now, as walking tours are replacing buses and only private groups of 20 or less are allowed.

Dyker Heights in Brooklyn Photo By: Meryl Pearlstein

It’s an immediate way to uplift the spirits as you marvel at the passion and creativity here. Most displays stay up through January 1. The main area is 83rd through 86th streets between 11th and 13th avenues.

NYBG Glow

NYBG Glow - Photo Courtesy Of: NYBG

Each year the New York Botanical Garden schedules its beloved train show for the holidays with New York City vignettes and buildings created out of flora and fauna foraged from nature, but this year the show is limited to NYBG members and Bronx community partners. Don’t despair, though, NYBG has something else for celebrants in 2020. The  general public event shines bright into the night with a new outdoor Glow color and light experience. Through January 16 on weekend nights, you’ll see a glowing world around the Haupt Conservatory.  As you explore, colors, dazzling lights and nighttime illuminations in the reflecting pool and area create a winter wonderland that might conjure up visions of Disney’s World of Color. Adding to the festivities are ice carving displays, roaming dancers and musicians. Expect a Hip Hop Nutcracker performance of the re-imagined Tchaikovsky classic as well . Timed-entry tickets are required for entry.

The Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights

The Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights

Around the corner, the Bronx Zoo doesn’t disappoint with their seasonal celebration of lights. Through January 10, you’ll see illuminated animals and flowers, ice sculptures, a decked-out Christmas tree and light-strung buildings as you wander along “a safari” path through Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America and the Ocean. Costumed characters, stilt walkers and projections onto buildings add to the sparkle. New this year, the Luminous Garden is filled with larger-than-life plants and animals.

LuminoCity Festival

LuminoCity Festival

Randall’s Island turns into a trippy light extravaganza again through January 10. Sculptures, mushrooms, characters, and towering light displays will keep the entire family entertained as you walk through the expansive LuminoCity Festival park area . Masks are required as you explore the imaginative adventures of Lumi, a character hailing from a universe created from a unicorn’s horn. Timed entry keeps the crowds moving through the narrative journey of love, loss and life.

The Lights of Manhattan

Empire State Building

And here’s a little bonus . You can watch the changing colors of the Empire State Building and the lights of downtown NYC on their ESB Live Cam. Two cameras give you two always-changing views. I could watch these for hours.

You Still Have Time to See the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden

You have just one more week to see The Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, and this year you can get closer to it than ever because of the show’s layout in a new space while the Palm Dome is undergoing restoration. The 28th version of the Holiday Train Show® at The New York Botanical Garden showcases Central Park, the most popular urban park in America, along with some of the city’s favorite landmarks. The beloved holiday event continues through January 26 and is a don’t-miss for architecture fans, city fans and train fans of all ages.

Central Park, designed in 1858 by landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, occupies not only the middle of Manhattan but also a special place in the hearts of New Yorkers and in the American imagination. Visited by more people than any other urban park in the United States, it has been featured in hundreds of movies. Perhaps even more important, Olmsted and Vaux’s “Greensward Plan” inspired cities across the country to set aside large open spaces as public parks. A striking feature of their design was the wide variety of buildings and architectural elements they included to complement the natural setting.

The miniature Central Park wonderland at the Holiday Train Show is made of natural materials including birch bark, lotus ponds, twigs, stems, fruit, seeds, fungus, pine cones, acorns and cinnamon sticks with mind-boggling creations of buildings, bridges, landscapes and train tracks, artistically crafted by founding visionary Paul Busse’s team at Applied Imagination. Model trains zip through an enchanting display of more than 175 New York landmarks.

New replicas of Central Park’s iconic architectural features include Belvedere Castle, the Dairy, the Old Bandstand, the Angel of the Waters sculpture atop the Bethesda Fountain, and two graceful pedestrian bridges. You’ll also see famous New York buildings that are either adjacent to the park or just inside it including the Plaza Hotel, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Rose Center for Earth and Space, part of the American Museum of Natural History.

In addition to the Central Park area, emphasis this year is on representing buildings that haven’t been highlighted in previous displays or in other ways in the city. Painstakingly recreated from old photos and records, many buildings long gone from the city’s landscape are presented. It warrants considerable time to ruminate on New York past and the architectural wonders that have been replaced by today’s skyscrapers and you’ll have a chance to view them virtually side-by-side with the city’s newest icons like The Oculus, looking almost like a mini-bug with its winged architecture. Plan on spending at least two hours to thoroughly enjoy the displays of each borough, the iconic city buildings, and watch the trains meandering throughout the exhibit.

Train lovers will enjoy more than 25 G-scale model trains and trolleys that hum along nearly a half-mile of track past re-creations of iconic sites from all five boroughs of New York City, the Hudson River Valley, and other locations in New York State. American steam engines, streetcars from the late 1800s, and modern freight and passenger trains travel underneath overhead trestles, through tunnels, across rustic bridges, and past waterfalls that cascade into flowing creeks. Thomas the Tank Engine™ and other beloved trains disguised as large colorful insects add additional fun to the displays.

The New York Botanical Garden is a museum of plants located in the Bronx. The Holiday Train Show is very busy, so buy your timed tickets in advance at www.nybg.org .  The New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York.

New Year’s Day Fun in New York City

The evening’s festivities are over; here are some activities to consider for the first day of 2018.

Are you a daredevil?  The weather promises to be freezing on New Year’s Day, but that doesn’t deter these folks from plunging into the icy cold water at Coney Island in Brooklyn. The Coney Island Polar Bear Club New Year’s Day Plunge is free with and begins at 1pm at the Stillwell Avenue boardwalk entrance. Participants get free admission to the New York Aquarium and a post-dip warm up at Coney Island Brewing Company and Steeplechase Beer Garden. A $25 donation is suggested to benefit local Coney Island organizations including the New York Aquarium and the Alliance for Coney Island.

Train lovers still have time to catch the annual Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx where model trains travel through a miniature landscape of 150+ iconic city structures. This year’s version spotlights Midtown Manhattan, with a new Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, General Electric Building and more on view through January 15. Advance reservations are strongly recommended as tickets do sell out. https://www.nybg.org/event/holiday-train-show/.

In Queens, the 2018 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®—hockey’s highest profile regular-season game—will be held at Citi Field on New Year’s Day.  January 1, 2018 will mark the first time the game is held in New York City. Even if you don’t have a ticket, there will still be fun activities outside of the stadium starting at 9am including a DJ, giveaways, refreshments and more.

If you plan to ice skate at Rockefeller Center, 5th Avenue between 49t5h and 50th streets, here’s what you need to know to book a reservations through VIP igloo if you’d like to avoid the lines and also get complimentary skate rentals (although general admission does not require a reservation.)  https://therinkatrockcenter.com/vip-skate-rink-reservations https://therinkatrockcenter.com/reservations.  Hours are 8:30am until midnight daily.

Warm up after with Maison du Chocolat’s fabulously, thick and perfectly sweet chocolat at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and also on the Upper East Side at 1018 Madison Avenue. http://www.lamaisonduchocolat.us/en_us/ Or at Jacques Torres, aka Mr. Chocolate, also at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. http://www.mrchocolate.com/

And no matter where or what the New Year’s celebrations have been, the potato powered FryGuys, www.fryguysnyc.com will be ready to soothe your hunger or hangover  with their new boat load of OG twice fried frys, topped with scrambled eggs, bacon an cheese, then crowned with a fried egg and fried chicken. Dubbed the Brunch so Hard, this will satisfy your hunger as you enter the New Year.  FryGuys, 150 2nd St.

For more NYC info, check out https://www.nycgo.com/.

Dale Chihuly Exhibit at New York Botanical Garden: Now through October 29

Glass artist Dale Chihuly has taken over the New York Botanical Garden once again. With his new exhibit designed to complement the Botanical Garden’s landscape and architecture, Chihuly again shows his masterful use of color and material with glass sculptures intermingled among plants, near trees, and adjacent to buildings.

On exhibit outdoors through October 29, the myriad glass sculptures transform into neon spectacles at night. This is Dale Chihuly’s first outdoor exhibit in New York in a decade and one which you shouldn’t miss.  Twenty pieces including a greenish yellow tree, tangles of colored neon, and red logs are scattered among the 250 acres of the gardens, looking perfectly in place against the foliage and flowers. Overhead, hanging chandeliers, a Chihuly signature, fascinate with their twists and curls.

Also displayed (indoors) are sketches from earlier in Chihuly’s career as well as some of his earlier art glass pieces.

For an artist as familiar as Dale Chihuly has become (his pieces are in hotels worldwide, in office buildings, and a permanent part of the NYBG collection), it’s a revelation to see these works sited outdoors, glass that’s impervious to the elements and makes a statement of color and design along the paths of green that fill the gardens.

Before the end of the month, the leaves will begin to turn, undoubtedly creating another feeling and expression of the art.  See the pieces now when everything is pure green, but definitely return by month’s end both to witness the change in environment and to bid a fond farewell to a beautiful exhibit.

Dining Tip: Enjoy a diverse and creative menu of paninis, pizzas, salads and desserts among the trees at the Pine Tree Café at the NYBG.  https://www.nybg.org/visit/dining/pine-tree-cafe/

New York Botanical Garden, https://www.nybg.org , 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY, 718-817-8700. Tickets start at $23 for adults and vary by day.  Closed on Monday except for Columbus Day.

Fall and Winter Happenings in the Bronx

The Bronx, named after Jonas Bronck who settled there in 1639, is often overlooked as a destination for a day trip. Yet, it’s a pretty quick subway ride, with, perhaps an Uber connection if your feet get tired. And you can fill a day or two, easily, exploring the borough.

Bronx ZooNot Just for Kids: The Bronx Zoo has something for everyone no matter the season.  Go “Boo at the Zoo” in the fall, feed the penguins any time of the year, or duck into the World of Reptiles to escape the cold and marvel at the gigantic pythons and the tiny dart frogs. Other faves are Jungle World, an Asian-themed warm-climate space where otters, gibbons and 800 other animals roam; Tiger Mountain and the Congo Gorilla Forest.  General admission tickets are $16, with reduced rates for children. The park is open daily from 10am-5pm. 2300 Southern Boulevard, 718-220-5100; http://bronxzoo.com /

Botantical GardenssStop and Smell the Chrysanthemums: No trip to the Bronx is complete without a visit to The New York Botanical Gardens. Year-round exhibits and programs encompass more than 50 landscapes and gardens within the 250-acre space. With more than a million plants, the diverse collection draws large crowds at this time of year for the Holiday Train Show and the Orchid Show in February. Fall walks in the forests and gardens are particularly invigorating. Tuesday through Sunday, 10am–6pm. Check the website for ticket pricing. Bronx River Parkway at Fordham Road, 718-817-8700; http://nybg.org/

SammysEat, Eat, Eat: A surprise to both NYC residents and visitors alike, City Island is a 1½- mile strip of land that offers a variety of seafood restaurants in a boat-friendly residential area. If you close your eyes, you just might think you’ve arrived in a New England fishing village. Well, almost. Try Sammy’s Fish Box Lobster House, a fixture since 1966, with a menu as large as the portions. 41 City Island Avenue, City Island 718-885-0920; https://sammysfishbox.com/

arthur_avenue_cafe_restaurantArthur Avenue is the real Italian neighborhood of New York City, a thriving hub of Italian food and culture. Distinctive from Manhattan’s Little Italy where Albanians and Chinese have taken over the formerly Italian residences and restaurants, this area is populated by generations of Italians with deep roots to the mother land. Arthur Avenue is considered more “authentic” throughout and the place where Italian restaurateurs and local families shop. Check out the many food stores and the indoor retail market building with vendors selling breads, pasta, gelato, sauces and fresh meats from Italy. Restaurants are family-friendly and serve copious portions Many, like the ever-popular Dominick’s, have no menus – just ask for your favorite dish or let the server surprise you with the evening’s specialty. A definite go-to is Mike’s Deli where you can stock up on items to prepare at home or put together a meal to eat on the spot with cured meats, sweets, olive oil and other Italian specialties. 2334 and 2344 Arthur Avenue, Bronx http://arthuravenue.com/

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