Tag Archives: New York Aquarium

Day One Hundred and Thirty-Six: Visiting Brooklyn for ‘Rose Night’ at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden & trip to Coney Island June 12, 2019

If you have never visited the Brooklyn Botanical Garden when visiting New York City you are missing a lot. I have been a member of the garden since 2002 and fell in love with walking around the gardens when visiting the Brooklyn Museum next door.  It is the most relaxing place to walk around and just think. It is also nice to grab a book, sit under a tree and just relax.

One of the benefits of membership are the private event nights that the Gardens have for its members. ‘Rose Night’ is one of my favorites. This is when the Crawford Rose Garden and the surrounding rose gardens to the main one are in full bloom and on display. Because the weather has been so hot lately most plants have been blooming about two weeks ahead of their normal schedule.

The Crawford Rose Garden was no exception as the recent hot weather and two rain storms put some strain on the rose bushes and some of them were going out of bloom the night of the party. Still the roses were ablaze with color and the fragrant smells of the garden were prevalent all over the garden. The event draws a very large crowd and people were all over the place picnicking and relaxing while listening to a jazz band that was performing inside the cherry trees.

Rose Night Brooklyn Botanical Garden II

I started my day working at the Soup Kitchen working in the prep kitchen for the morning. They kept me busy making a cucumber and tomato salad and cutting kale for a side dish they were making the next day. One thing I like about working at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen is that the work is never dull. They always keep me busy.

Since I had plenty of time before the event, I decided to take a trip down to Coney Island to explore any changes that were going on in the amusement center. I wanted to visit the New York Aquarium and see the new ‘Shark Tanks’ exhibition and revisit the Coney Island Museum. When I arrived at the beach about 45 minutes later it was beautiful, clear and sunny on Surf Avenue.

The afternoon started out at Nathan’s at 1310 Surf Avenue for lunch (see review on TripAdvisor). I swear that I eat at Nathan’s in the suburb malls and it never tastes as good as it does in the original restaurant on Coney Island. Be prepared to face the lines for the rest of the summer as beach season approaches.

Nathan's Coney Island II.jpg

Nathan’s Coney Island

Their hot dogs and French fries are the best but they do not come cheap. I think this restaurant is getting more and more geared to tourists wanting to visit Coney Island. The hot dog was $4.75 and the French fries were  $3.75, which is a little ridiculous considering a pack of their hot dogs are $1.99 and a bag of their frozen French fries are $1.99 on sale at the supermarket.

Still their hot dogs were delicious. They have a nice garlicky snap to them and are nicely grilled and their French fries are cooked to perfection. It is nice to enjoy your lunch at their outside tables where you can breath in the fresh salt air. After finishing my lunch, I visited the New York Aquarium at 602 Surf Avenue.

 

Nathan's Coney Island IV

Nathan’s Hot Dogs and French fries

The aquarium is finally updating itself as this is the first addition to the park in years. I got there in time before the last sea lion show and that was fun. The ‘Sea Lion Celebration’ as they call it takes place in the summer at 11:00am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm and 5:30pm. The trainers look like they are having a good time with animals. These sea lions were born and raised at the aquarium so they are used to being around humans. The surprising part is that they act like humans with their responses. Unlike a zoo, these mammals get out and get their exercise. It is an interesting show as they are very talented and seem to enjoy working with the trainers.

New York Aquarium.jpg

New York Aquarium

I was able to walk through the ‘Ocean Wonders: Sharks!” exhibition before the aquarium closed for the evening. I found it fascinating about the history of sharks and their place in ocean world and where they are on the feeding scale. They hardly care about eating humans and like one of the displays said that ‘Jaws’ gave them a bad wrap. They are bottom dwellers who eat all the things that are ‘left over’ and are a good cleanser for the sea.

New York Aquarium III.jpg

We as humans unfortunately over-fish them or with some of the Asian countries, they will cut off the fins of the sharks for meat and then throw them back into the sea where they drown, which I think it the cruelest thing you can do to an animal. Its like being buried alive and the aquarium showed the results of what happens to this fish when it happens.

The last large tank before you leave has several variety of sharks and fish which sets up an almost feeding ecosystem for them and it looks almost graceful watching the sea go by. They even have a small crawl tunnel where you can travel under the fish to see them up close. At the top of the exhibition, they have a new restaurant, ‘Oceanview Bites’.

New York Aquarium II

The tunnel under the tanks

After the aquarium, I visited the Coney Island Museum at 1208 Surf Avenue (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). This is the most underrated museum that covers the history of Coney Island from just being dunes that Walt Whitman read poetry on to the modern day amusement parks to current developments.

The museum covers this history of the three great amusement parks, Steeplechase, Luna and Dreamland Parks especially in their heyday. The amusement area of Coney Island still is considered one of the most innovative in history and most developments in amusement rides took place in Coney Island.

Coney Island Museum

The Coney Island Museum

Each room covers a part of the history of Coney Island from its years as a luxury resort, to seaside travel to the island, development of the amusement industry, to modern times and what the new developments might bring to the area. I was lucky enough to meet the curator of the museum, Lisa Mangels-Schaefer, whose family has a rich history on the island as a manufacturer of amusement rides. Her grandfather had manufactured and maintained many of the amusement rides in the park.

As the only two at the museum at the time, she gave me a personal tour of the museum, explaining the many displays and artifacts of the museum. She also told me stories of how her family used to manufacture the amusement rides back at the turn of the last century.

Coney Island Museum II

Some of the manufactured items by Ms. Mangels-Schaefer’s family

There are a lot of interesting artifacts at the museum from illuminated post cards to old amusement rides to many nostalgic pictures of the area from various times of history. Each gallery covers another theme of the history of the area.  Don’t miss  the displays of the amusement rides and the hall of fun house mirrors. For a $5.00, this museum is a real treat.

After the museum, I walked on the boardwalk for awhile and then just put my feet in the ocean. After a long day of working in the kitchen, it started to catch up to me. It was nice to feel the cool water and breath in the salt air. Coney Island has its problems as I could see but still it is a place to relax and have fun. I just laid on the beach, relaxed and let the sun shine down on me. The view of the Rockaways in the distance is really nice and on a clear sunny day, the views were wonderful.

Coney Island Beach.jpg

Coney Island Beach

By 5:00pm, it was time to go back up to the Botanical Garden for the ‘Rose Night’ cocktail party and tours. I was smart taking the Q back as I got off by the back entrance and did not have to face the crowds of the main entrance by the Brooklyn Museum. I got there at the opening at 6:30pm and the place was already mobbed with people. The main part of the gardens by the cherry trees must have had about three hundred people sitting down having their picnic dinner.

While everyone else was conversing on the main lawn, I took the time to walk the gardens and see the Crawford Rose Gardens in bloom. It had been hot over the last two months and all the flowers were blooming two weeks earlier than usual so a lot of roses had already bloomed and had fallen off the branches due to two recent rain storms.

Still there were lot of species of roses and many were still at the height of blooming and made a very colorful and fragrant display while touring the paths. Many types of roses had the big blooms and smelled like perfume. Others lined the trellises and created a beautiful display overhead. You really have to take your time to admire the true beauty of the garden which only has about two weeks of blooming.

Rose Night Brooklyn Botanical Garden

Crawford Rose Garden

After I left the Crawford Rose Garden, I walked the back fountain area which had large rose bushes that were all in bloom. The fountain had been cleaned and turned on for the event so it made quite an impression in color and design with the way the rose bushes were growing.

For the rest of the evening, I walked all the different garden concepts from the Rock Gardens to the Shakespeare Gardens to the new water recycling gardens that had just been completed. All the tulip, daffodil and magnolia gardens were long gone but still a good memory of visiting a couple of months earlier.

The only problem with the event is that it has gotten so big. When it was much smaller it was more intimate and concentrated in one part of the garden but now there are more members and it is the first official ‘picnic night’ in the garden so it has gotten crowded. Also they stopped making that wonderful ‘rose cocktail’ they used to make for the event and had canned and bottled beverages that were between $8.00 to $12.00 which I thought was a little ridiculous. I know you have to raise money but $8.00 for a non-alcoholic canned beverage? I waited to go to Family Pizza at 720 Flatbush Avenue (see review on TripAdvisor) for some dinner.

Still it was nice to have the gardens for the members only night and the newly renovated Japanese Gardens had opened again so I spent the last part of the evening walked around the wooded paths and stopping at the pagoda to look at the man-made lake that now feed the entire Botanical Garden its water supply. You could still hear the jazz band on the main lawn from here and it was a nice place to just sit and relax and enjoy the sun setting.

It is a simple evening of walking paths and looking at flowers while listening to music but still isn’t that what a pleasant evening in a garden is supposed to be?

 

Development in Coney Island in the future:

 

Coney Island Development under Mayor Bloomberg:

Places to Visit:

 

Coney Island Museum

1208 Surf Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11224

(718) 372-5159

https://www.coneyisland.com/programs/coney-island-museum718

Open: Sunday 2:00pm-6:00pm/Closed Monday and Tuesday/Wednesday-Saturday 12:00pm-6:00pm

Fee: $5.00

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d555621-Reviews-The_Coney_Island_Museum-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1978

 

New York Aquarium

602 Surf Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11224

(718) 265-3474

https://nyaquarium.com/

Open: Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:00pm/Saturday and Sunday 10:00am-5:30pm

Fee:  Adults (13 & Over) $24.95/Children 3-12 $24.95/Children under 2 Free/Seniors $26.95-Check the website for seasonality

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d107414-Reviews-New_York_Aquarium-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

 

 

Brooklyn Botanical Garden

990 Washington Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11225

(718) 623-7200

https://www.bbg.org/

Open: Saturday and Sunday 10:00am-6:00pm/Monday-Friday 8:00am-6:00pm

My review on Tripadvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d103900-Reviews-Brooklyn_Botanic_Garden-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2785

 

Places to Eat:

Nathan’s Coney Island

1310 Surf Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11224

(718) 333-2202

Open: Sunday-Thursdays 10:00am-11:00pm/Friday-Saturday 10:00am-12:00pm

https://nathansfamous.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60827-d458011-Reviews-Nathan_s_Famous-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Family Pizza

720 Flatbush Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11225

(718) 462-0639

Open: Sunday-Saturday 11:00am-11:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60827-d4966907-Reviews-Family_Pizza-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

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Day Eighty-Two: Going from Q to Q. Taking the subway from the beginning of the Q on 96th Street to Stillwell Avenue Coney Island August 9, 2017.

I had finished the Manhattan Valley neighborhood earlier in the day when the Soup Kitchen was full and they did not need me. So I walked the lower part of the neighborhood to finish it off and then walked across Central Park to the beginning of the new subway stop for the Q subway train at 96th Street and Second Avenue. As I had written on Day Sixty-Six on my walk, this subway line is really nice and take time to look at the artwork at the stops at 96th, 72nd and 63rd Streets.

96th Street Stop in Coney Island

the 96th Street stop my starting point

If you are going to take the Q to Coney Island leave yourself plenty of time because it is over an hour to get from one end of the Q to the other. It was a beautiful warm clear sunny day around 84 degrees and a perfect day to go to the shore.

I love the Q train! I love the new section of the subway with its interesting art and the fact that it is so clean. That and the fact they the E subway has the newest cars to stretch out in. It makes it a pleasure for the long trips.

You get some of the best views of the city from the subway once you cross over into Brooklyn. You get a great views of lower Manhattan when exiting from underground plus you get to see the old parts of Brooklyn with views of the ‘Brownstone’ neighborhoods. There’s another area that keeps changing with gentrification.

The subway ends at the Stillwell subway stop. This rebuilt stop was the first part in the renovation of the island to make it a more 24 hour resort. Most of the other plans have been scrapped or were never enacted. To be honest with all of you, the amusement area of Coney Island is still dumpy and has not been much since the Luna Park fire of 1946 and the Dreamland fire of 1911. They keep trying though.

Even when I went to Coney Island as a kid in the 70’s, it was rundown then. Please don’t get me wrong, Coney Island can be a lot of fun and you can have a great day out here but don’t get too lofty of expectations of what it is like (See reviews on TripAdvisor). Don’t venture too far from Nathan’s after dark and follow the crowd back to the Stillwell subway station after dark if you stay for the films on the beach or the fireworks.

I have been down for the Mermaid Parade in the Spring several years ago and will be going to the Sandcastle Building contest next week. There is a lot going on during the summer and it is good to check out these activities. The Hot Dog Eating Contest at Nathan’s draws thousands to the island to watch their hero’s devour hot dogs at record speed.

Still the I love to explore the changes to the island and walked around Surf and Neptune Avenues after I got there. I wanted to see if Totanno’s Pizza was open that day so I walked for two blocks Neptune Avenue and I will tell you that though the area is changing it still is not a great neighborhood.

Totanno’s is in the middle of a commercial area with a series of garages and car repairs. The worst part was that it closed for the day. The restaurant is only opened from Wednesday to Sunday so its for another time. I did get to see the back part of the island and found where the original Coney Island Creek was located. This is where the original Sea Lion Park and Luna Park were located back in the early part of the century.

Totonna Pizza II.jpg

Tatonno’s Pizza on Neptune Avenue

I changed my plans around and walked the length of Surf Avenue and started my walk around the amusement area which runs from the Aquarium at West 8th Street to about West 16th Street. Even with the rebuilding of Luna Park on the footprint of the old Astroland, Surf Avenue needs a major makeover. The chain restaurants have added a little life to it but still some of the blocks are a series of rundown buildings and old time amusements.

I stopped by the Coney Island Museum at 1208 Surf Avenue and the museum part was closed for the day but the side show part was open but I had missed the show. I walked around some of the open exhibitions on the outside and it is interesting to see some of the artifacts from the old amusement days.

Coney Island Museum

Coney Island Museum

My next stop was the famous Cyclone Roller Coaster on West 10th Street (see review on TripAdvisor). This is the most amazing and exciting ride on the island and one of the things you should see while you are in New York City. It is $10.00 to ride the coaster but it is well worth it! That first hill you go down is so mind-blowing. You feel as if the cars are going to fly into the sea. It rolls up and down those hills back and forth facing the buildings across the street and the sea. Of all the amusement parks I have been to there is nothing like the Cyclone.

Cyclone Rollercoaster.jpg

Cyclone Rollercoaster

I walked into the Luna Park area and saw the improvements that have been added to the park. The problem with Luna Park is that its mostly kiddie rides and not much for adults with the exception of the Log Flume Ride. Luna Park was rebuilt on the old Astroland which had closed by in 2008 and is trying to capture the old magic of the island with upgrades on rides and concessions. It even recreated the original entrance of Luna Park across the street from the old park. Still it will take a lot more work on the park and more added rides in the future. I give them so much credit for revitalizing the park with a new look.

Luna Park.jpg

The entrance to the new Luna Park in Coney Island

I walked after that to Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, 1025 Regielmann Boardwalk, which I had not been on for about seven years and the famous Spook-a-Rama, which I had not ridden since I was about eight. The Wonder Wheel was built back in the 20’s and with a height of 150 feet, has great views of the ocean and of the island. Both rides were $8.00 and were well worth it for the day.

When riding the Wonder Wheel, make sure to get one of the cars that slide. Not only do you get the view but you get the excitement of sliding around. When you reach the top of the Wonder Wheel, it has the most breathtaking view of the boardwalk area, the beach and ocean and a view of the whole island. The breeze is so refreshing up there and you feel like the world is your own. Talk about seeing the world go by.

Deno's Wonder Wheel

Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

After the Wonder Wheel, I walked over to Spook-a-Rama, also $8.00, which I first rode when I was eight and it has not changed that much since then. It does have a few thrills that do pop out at you that will have you jumping. There have been a few updates on it with video displays but for the most part I remember it being much scarier as a kid. I will let you know though the first couple of things popping out at you will still have you jumping out of your seat but still its not the Haunted Mansion at Disney Parks.

I had enough time to go to the New York Aquarium located at West 8th Street, just past the Cyclone. During Hurricane Sandy in 2012, most of the Aquarium was seriously damaged and most of the park is still under construction. The Coral Exhibition is still interesting especially with the destruction of the wreaths around the world and the Sea Lion demonstration is a lot of fun. The Sea Lions are such hams and seem to love the crowds. What I thought was interesting is that both of them were born in New York City at the Bronx Zoo so they have only known humans. Still they look like they are having fun.  They seem to love waving to the audience and the crowds love them back.

New York Aquarium.jpg

New York Aquarium

My last stop of the evening was dinner at Nathan’s at 1310 Surf Avenue. This hot dog chain was founded in 1916 and is still in their original location. They have the best hot dogs and their French fries are some of the best in the industry. When you go you have to have the original hot dog with mustard, the regular fries (which is a large order anywhere else) and their famous Orange-aid. It is the best meal.

Nathan's Coney Island

Nathan’s Coney Island

On a hot sunny day, it is nice to sit out on the tables right next to the restaurant. There is something about the sea breezes, the salt air and hot dogs and fries that make a phenomenal combination. It is a meal that is part of the beach experience and that was worth the trip alone.

Before it got too late, I was back on the Q Train back to Manhattan. I’m sorry but sensible people still get out of Coney Island before it gets dark. Even though the subway station on Stillwell and Surf Avenues is very safe and there is a police station there, its better to leave before dusk. I don’t care how many artists have moved into the area.

The subway ride took just over an hour to get back to Manhattan but it was still light out when I left the shore area and got my last glimpse of the ocean pass by. There is nothing  like watching the sun reflect on the beach. The best was that we passed lower Manhattan before we went under the tunnel and watched the skyline brightened by the lights in the office towers. If you want to see an amazing site, it is when the city lights come on and the skyline is ablaze. It is like a picture postcard and impressive. When people think of New York City, this is what they imagine.

Coney Island Beach.jpg

Coney Island Beach

When I finally got back to 96th Street, I had some time to look at the artwork again and stretch around the station. I still love to see museum quality art in a subway. Then it was off back on the Q back to midtown.

For the price of a round-trip ticket on the subway, it is fantastic voyage around the city on the new Q. Artwork, amusements, skyline views and the beach. What more could you want?

From Q to Q Beginning to End from 96th Street to Stillwell Avenue

 

Places to Visit:

 

Coney Island Museum

3050 Stillwell Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11224

(718) 372-5159

https://www.coneyisland.com/programs/coney-island-museum

Open: Sunday-Saturday 12:00pm-8:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d555621-Reviews-The_Coney_Island_Museum-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1978

 

Luna Park Coney Island/Cyclone Rollercoaster

1000 Surf Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11224

(718) 373-5862

https://lunaparknyc.com/

Open: Monday-Thursday 11:00am-10:00pm/Friday-Sunday 11:00am-12:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d1796964-Reviews-Luna_Park_at_Coney_Island-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Deno’s Wonderwheel Park

1023 Riegelmann Boardwalk

Brooklyn, NY  11224

(718) 372-2592

https://www.denoswonderwheel.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d565041-Reviews-Deno_s_Wonder_Wheel_Park-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

 

The New York Aquarium

602 Surf Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11224

(718) 265-3474

https://nyaquarium.com/

Open: Sunday 10:00am-6:00pm/Monday-Thursday 10:00am-5:00pm/Friday & Saturday 10:00am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d107414-Reviews-New_York_Aquarium-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

 

Places to Eat:

Nathan’s Famous

1310 Surf Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11224

(718) 333-2202

https://nathansfamous.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60827-d458011-Reviews-Nathan_s_Famous-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905