We’ve lived here almost a year now, astoundingly, and realised we still hadn’t ventured north of Central Park. So we decided to go really far north, all the way up to The Bronx for the famous Bronx Zoo. And so glad we did, as it’s the best zoo we’ve ever visited.
We took the number 5 train all the way up to 180th East Street (hadn’t realised before this that the street numbers continue right off Manhattan up into The Bronx), which took well over an hour. The station was a little run down, with lots of posters warning you to ‘be smart and not to flash your smart phone around’. But just a few minutes’ walk away we reached the zoo, and were wrapped up in all the wildlife and greenery. Such a treat to escape the pressure cooker that is Manhattan in July for a few hours.
Part of the charm was the fact it didn’t really feel that much like a zoo. The location is in a really well established forest, with paths winding between old, tall trees. Signage and branding was kept to a minimum, so you got long stretches of greenery without any distraction, allowing you to hear the birds, insects and the zoo animals. The enclosures were the best we’ve seen yet, with greenery and foliage covering almost all signs of walls, so you felt you were glimpsing the animals in the wild.
The original zoo buildings are old and stately, with wonderful wildlife carvings, and giant rhino statues guard the main zoo house.
The wildlife was varied and accessible. We got to watch a pair of incredibly rare Snow Leopards lolloping about, black rhinos daydreaming, baboons grooming each other for ticks and three young grizzlies playing together in their waterfall’s plunge pool. It was brilliant.
After three hours we decided to head on to Arthur Avenue, which seemed to be the Bronx’s answer to Little Italy. Bakeries, pizza shops, butchers and even cigar rolling galore. We picked up some absolutely delicious Italian meatballs from Peter’s Meat Market in the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, which I’ve been cooking all week.
Tips if you’re planning to take your own kids to the Bronx Zoo:
- As ever, get there early to beat the school groups and for your kids get close enough to really study the wildlife
- You can hire strollers at the ticket entrance ($10 for a single or $15 for a double), and most of the enclosures are push-chair friendly. However, a couple of them require strollers to be left outside, including the Tiger enclosure and the Madagascar house
- General admission tickets are $19.95 for those aged 12+, kids aged 3-12 cost $12.95. You can upgrade to the Total Experience tickets, which gives you access to the children’s petting zoo
- General admission is free on Wednesdays
- Food seemed to be almost exclusively nachos and hot dogs, so take a taxi to Arthur Avenue for some fantastic Italian food
This week’s Highs & Lows:
- Packing to go back to England. Cannot, cannot wait to see everybody again after so long, and meet the babies born since The Big Move
- Two and a half year old B’s speech is really coming along. Suddenly we can understand what she’s thinking (and saying). There have been some amusingly whacky conversations, such as when I explained my chicken was ‘fiery spicy’, she got v agitated, and said “I don’t want a dragon to blow fire in my face! Don’t eat that fiery chicken, Mummy! Too dangerous for you!”
- It’s got to be the humidity. It’s been consistently hot, 29-32 degrees celcius, but it’s the humidity which soaks your clothes in sweat. Not a good look. Realise that I blog a lot about the weather, but hey, I am English, and the weather here is just so ridiculously extreme. In England the seasons are much milder, often merging softly, and the occassional snow day or heatwave brings the country to a halt. Here in NYC, the seasons are distinct, crashing into you, impossible to ignore.