An emerald expanse in the thriving, concrete jungle that is New York City, Central Park lies in the heartland of the Manhattan borough. It commences its labyrinthine stretch from Midtown, all the way to Harlem. It was created in 1857 by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who envisioned a sprawling green space in the center of the island. The park spans 843 acres (341.15 hectares) and bustles with life throughout the day, even as the layered, multi-hued fold of the city's skyline unfolds at its hem. The park's 21 playgrounds are speckled with ornate fountains, sculptures, myriad bridges and arches, together forming an urbane respite where several come to find peace from the city's chaotic pace. Attractions within the park include the Bethesda Fountain, the Conservatory Garden, Belvedere Castle, and Central Park Zoo.
Open to visitors from April until November, the Bailey Arboretum offers up a world of color during that time: daffodils kick off the season, followed by flowering trees and a variety of annuals and perennials all through the summer. This arboretum has a particularly wonderful collection of conifers, and features a sensory garden for the physically challenged. Many events are hosted here, along with guided walks and other educational opportunities. No entrance fee for children 16 and under; $3 for adults.
With a permanent collection numbering over two million individual works of art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or simply the Met, is not only a New York City landmark, it is the United States' largest art museum and the fifth-most visited museum of any kind in the world. Designed by Richard Morris Hunt, the museum encompasses more than 1.5 million square feet (139,355 square meters) of exhibition space. European paintings on display include those by world-renown masters like Monet, Degas, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Titian, and Vermeer. The vast collection has been split between several galleries, arranged by geographic origin and other thematic schemes. The Egyptian art gallery is especially enticing, as are the Met's repositories of Asian, African and Medieval art. Others include Islamic, Roman, and Greek art, the Arms and Armory section, the Costume Institute, and European Decorative arts. When weather permits, contemporary sculptures are displayed at the open-air roof garden. Apart from being a treasure trove for art lovers, The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers a fun-filled and educational experience for all ages.
The High Line is an urban oasis filled with beautifully manicured landscapes. It sits above the city on old train tracks that were installed as part of the West Side Improvement Project back in 1929. The line was primarily used to transport goods along the Lower West Side, but with the advent of vehicles in the 1950s and more accessible routes elsewhere, the last train eventually ran in 1980. Thereafter, the elevated tracks fell into disrepair, and the whole structure was nearly demolished. It was instead converted into an innovative public park, delighting locals and visitors alike. Today, the High Line is a cherished sanctuary away from the bustle of city life.
This small but beautiful botanic garden features a Japanese garden, as well as the Cranford Rose Garden, herb garden, the Children's Garden, and the Steinhard Conservatory of indoor flowers and plants. In all, there are 52 acres and 12,000 varieties of botanicals, ranging from the tiny bonsai to the towering oak. Self-guided tours, individual classes and certificate programs are all available. Students come with your valid id cards, if you want to avail of a discount.
Tucked away in Queens is an old-fashioned testament to film and television. The actual studios of the one-time Paramount East Coast production house are closed, but the museum provides tours about film making where you can see makeup, costumes and well-known movie sets. There are several theaters for film screenings and a gift shop for souvenir hunters.
The skating court at the Riverbank State Park turns into an ice skating rink every winter, welcoming visitors from all over the city looking for some winter recreation. The rink is situated by the Hudson River, with beautiful views at the other side of the river as well. Admission prices are minimal, and one can also rent skates or enroll for ice skating lessons. If you wish to hold a special event here, you can rent the entire rink too.
One of its kind, Riverbank State Park is a 28 acre landscaped state-of-the-art park facility that offers a wide variety of recreational facilities. Boasting a terrific view of Hudson river, this park has a 400 seat amphitheater. Its sure to draw visitors of all ages with an Olympic-sized pool, a cultural theater, an athletic complex, skating rink and even a restaurant. For rates and other details, please check the website.
The Miriam And Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery is housed within the sprawling campus of the Columbia University. This gallery has been in the forefront of promoting an artistic climate in the city. Check website for a list of upcoming events.
Ever wondered who was buried in Grant's Tomb? The General Grant National Monument a historical landmark is dedicated to Ulysses S. Grant, the Civil War general and United States president. Both the general and his wife are buried in the grandiose white marble structure, located next to the Hudson River in serene Riverside Park. The tomb underwent a renovation in 1997 for its centennial year. Despite its famous inhabitant, the monument is hardly ever crowded.
A soaring Neo-gothic church with architecture inspired by the cathedral at Chartres, Riverside Church church houses the world's second largest carillon in its impressive tower. Construction of the church began in 1927 and it was completed three years later. Riverside Church is interdenominational, however it is most prominently affiliated with the American Baptist Church and is famous for MLK's riveting speech called 'Beyond Vietnam', given in 1967. This church is also a thriving multicultural community center and sponsors a wide array of programs including anti-racism and anti-poverty initiatives. Carillon recitals are held on most Sundays and on special occasions. Check the schedule for regular services and tours.
Located in New York, this music school is a well-known institution for budding musicians. With a knowledgeable faculty, this school has all the features for honing and refining musical talents. It offers a range of degrees and diplomas in music. The institute has a huge campus and the John C. Borden Auditorium provides a venue for musicals and performances. Manhattan School of Music's libraries give students a wealth of resources with books ,LP's, CD's at their disposal. All in all, this is a great venue and an even better institute for those who have a ear and talent for music. Harry Connick Jr., Billy Joel, John Lewis and Phil Woods have been some of the schools esteemed students.