Travel Journal: Museum of Natural History, a Castle and some Strawberry Fields

During my US trip I’ve managed to keep my spending to a minimum and have been lucky enough to be able to take advantage of museum free day such as at the Californian Academy of Sciences. But sometimes it’s nice to have a treat so I decided to splurge a little with a ticket to New York’s American Museum of Natural History and spend the day exploring the exhibits.

I always try to take full advantage of attractions I visit so I was up super early and waiting outside the door before the museum even opened. There was a fair about of people outside with me but once inside I manage to get the museum pretty much entirely to myself as I headed to upper levels first and worked my way down. In some exhibits I seem to also have beaten the security guard so it’s quite creepy being in the animal exhibits entirely alone.

Empty exhibit hall at New York's American Museum of Natural History
There’s no-one here

There’s plenty to see in the American Museum of Natural History with exhibits on geology, biology and space sciences and plenty of historical features from the origin of man to native American tribal history.

Many may recognise the museum as another New York movie location, namely A Night at the Museum. Apparently, the first holiday season after the movie’s release in the US showed a 20% increase in visitors to the American Museum of Natural History. Quite impressive how much sway a movie can have over our actions.  While I was visiting, it seemed the majority of children seemed to only be interested in finding a stuffed capuchin monkey Dexter from the movie – who by the way is a real monkey named Crystal so isn’t in the museum, sorry kids.

However, I was quite impressed with one kid I spotted…

A little girl reading about the Universe in the American Museum of Natural History in New York
Little girl versus the universe

After my museum outing my walk back to the hostel takes me through Central Park where today I have two new attractions to find. The first is Belvedere Castle which is a sort of “miniture castle” which was build in 1869. It gives a nice view point and is open to the public for a fee but it turned out quite difficult to find. Unless you’re good at memorising the boards that are infrequently dotted around the park those that are keen to find specific pits of Central Park in a hurry might want to purchase a map from the visitor point in the park.

Belvedere Castle in New York Central Park
Belvedere Castle

After the Castle next stop is Strawberry Fields which, despite what the name suggests, contains no fruit but is instead a reference to The Beatles record Strawberry Fields Forever written by John Lennon. The main point of interest in this part of the park is the famous Lennon memorial, a simple black and white mosaic with the title of his legendary song Imagine in the centre. This is a very popular spot but people do seem to respect that this is a quiet spot and some even bring flowers to place on the memorial.

John Lennon Memorial at Strawberry Fields, New York
John Lennon Memorial

With the following day my last full day in New York, those following along may have notice a glaring gap in my NYC tourist trail. It is, of course, the Empire State Building. I’ve hopefully left the best to last or perhaps just the most touristy but I look forward to my plans for my final day but not that it brings an end this year’s travel adventures.