05.13.13Rainy Day on the Upper West Side

Rob and I have a long and ever-growing list of things we want to do in New York City, but some things are best done on rainy days. Saturday was dreary with off and on showers and a gray sky, so we decided it was definitely a museum kind of day.

We met up on the Upper West Side – a quick cross-town bus ride through Central Park for me, and a quick 2,3 train ride up the West Side for Rob. After a yummy Mexican lunch at Cafe Frida, we walked just around the block to the main entrance of the American Museum of Natural History (Central Park West and 79th Street) for an afternoon indoors. Bonus: Rob’s company is a corporate sponsor of this museum, so we got free admission with his ID – saved us almost $40!

This museum is enormous! So much to see and explore, but we made our way through most of it that afternoon. We started with my favorite: astronomy and outer space. Yes, I grew up wanting to be an astronaut :). The exhibition began with a short video where visitors can look down into a concave screen to view the Big Bang presentation, a dynamic flight through the virtual universe based on an accurate cosmic atlas mapped using millions of astronomical observations.

“The Big Bang presentation takes viewers back to the birth of the universe, through its expansion and cooling, and from the emergence of simple gas clouds to galaxies with stars and planets. Finally, it raises the question of the nature of the so-called ‘dark energy,’ a mysterious force counter to gravity that dominates the modern universe. ” Fascinating.

From there, we ventured into halls of mammals, gems, minerals, meteorites, native peoples, human origins, New York environment, and ocean life. The ocean life exhibition was impressive – they had a replica of a blue whale filling the entire space, which gave such perspective. Life goal: see a whale in person!

By the time the museum closed at 5:30, Rob and I had gotten through a good chunk of the exhibitions, and had a great time seeing it all. A great museum for kids and adults alike! We took a walk through the Upper West Side, a place Rob and I could very easily see ourselves living. It’s very residential but mixed with a great neighborhood of stores, restaurants, schools, churches, groceries, parks, etc. We grabbed dinner at Gina la Fornarina (Amsterdam and 73rd) to put our restaurant.com coupon to use. Rob got the Pizza Diavolo and I got the calzone topped with prosciutto and arugula. The portions were both huge and delicious, so the leftovers made for a great lunch the next day.

Since we were both so full, we didn’t stop at Levain Bakery (Amsterdam and 74th) for dessert, but I’ve heard this place is an Upper West Side “must-do.” The cookies are apparently amazing, and the line was winding down the block when we walked by. Always a good sign of a great place!

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