Of all the wonderful zoos in New York, I’m definitely “Team Central Park”. Ever since my first visit to the Central Park Zoo - when Chelsea was just a baby – I’ve been hooked. I love the architecture and overall design, the manageable size and layout, and the fact that when you leave the zoo you are in beautiful Central Park.
When the new Children’s Zoo opened shortly after Conor was born, it got even better. This little zoo is totally charming, with scaled-down nooks and crannies, story times and a great petting zoo. It soon became one of our favorite destinations, and I took Chelsea and Conor often over the years.
So of all the places that I frequented less and less as the kids got older, I was most sad about losing touch with the zoo. Needless to say, Noah was barely 6 months old when he had his first visit, and it was a particularly meaningful trip to me. It was the smallest details – seeing a little face light up. Watching a tiny hand feed a goat or a sheep. Feeling kicking feet in the baby carrier when face-to-face with a penguin - that gave me pause to acknowledge how lucky I was to get to “do this” all over again.
Ironically, I noticed that Chelsea – particularly when she started college – also began to wax nostalgic about some of the trips she remembered best as a child. And it was not long before I was getting e-mails asking if a “zoo trip” could be planned on an upcoming vacation.
And so it was how we found ourselves – Chelsea, Noah, my parents and me – at the zoo on one of our very last “Thursdays”. The main zoo was closed for an event but the Children’s Zoo was open so we headed straight there.
This place never disappoints.
photo credit: Mel Clapman
Noah had a great time exploring – the children’s area is so well-contained and sized just right – and we spent the rest of the morning walking through the park.
The Delacorte Clock is always a must-see, especially if you’re lucky enough to be there on the half-hour, when the music plays and the animals glide around.
photo credit: Mel Clapman
And no trip to the park with Chelsea is complete without a stop at her beloved Balto statue. This time Noah was finally old enough to climb up with her and “pet” Balto – a serious rite of passage in our family, to be sure.
We stopped at yet another great playground (#17 on my list, if you’re keeping track). I have no pictures because I spent most of my time climbing, bending and reaching for my suddenly too-brave boy as he scrambled about, stopping only to play with a stick and a leaf.
And what’s a day in the park without some yummy treats:
I was lucky to have such a special-yet-ordinary day with my “little” and “big”, in this city that I love. It really doesn’t take much – the zoo, a playground, a lovely view – to get me to pause, close my eyes, and take it deeply in.
How about you? What are the moments or places that make you stop and give thanks? Is it the familiar and well-traveled, or someplace brand new and unfamiliar? If you have children, how does that change the experience for you? Please share with me!