Right in the heart of Manhattan stands this oasis of rolling pastures and gardens, stretching from Midtown to Harlem. It was created in 1857 by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, and sprawls over a wonderful 843 acres (341.15 hectares). Bustling with activity, walkers, rollerbladers, bikers and joggers hurriedly compete for space while lovers meet at the Bethesda Fountain on Bethesda Terrace. To the north, visitors wonder at the architecture of Belvedere Castle, and found nearby is the Delacorte Theater where plays are staged during summer. Over time, Central Park has blended so seamlessly with Manhattan that it is hard to disassociate the two. Also within its folds are other delights, including the Central Park Wildlife Conservation Center and the Central Park Zoo, as well as the wonderfully-restored Carousel.
The Lincoln Center for Performing Arts is a massive venue when it comes to live entertainment. The Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors has something for everyone: internationally recognized dances, high-level performances, special events and jazz. Watch out for Live From Lincoln Center, a program that has famous orchestras and artistes performing. Lincoln Center holds about 400 live performances a year, ranging from classical to modern productions. And as if that wasn't enough, the Center also hosts many events put on by the Film Society at Lincoln Center. There are guided tours on a daily basis that explore the world-renowned Metropolitan Opera House, Avery Fisher Hall, the New York State Theater (home of the New York City Opera) and the Vivian Beaumont Theater. During the tour, your guides will entertain you with fascinating stories and give you a glimpse of a rehearsal in progress.
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.
Any visitor to the Big Apple should spend at least a couple of hours at this The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Designed by Richard Morris Hunt, it has more than 1.5 million square feet (139,355 square meters) of exhibition space. European paintings on display include works by Monet, Degas, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Titian and Vermeer. The Egyptian gallery is unparalleled, while Asian art, sculpture, armory, and photography galleries also vie for your attention. During warm weather, the open-air roof garden displays contemporary sculptures. Apart from being a treasure trove for art lovers, this museum provides a fun-filled and educational experience for all ages.
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.
A splendid public Arboretum and a beautiful historic site, the Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park encompasses nearly 500 acres of landscaped grounds. Follow picturesque paths past greenhouses and lawns, through formal gardens, woodland, and exquisite plant collections. The property was originally a Gold Coast estate and several of the historic buildings remain, including a Tudor Revival mansion known as Coe Hall, a 65-room structure which may be toured throughout the spring, summer, and fall seasons. Educational programs for all ages, musical and artistic events, plant shows, wedding photography, and school programs utilize this marvelous resource. See website for visiting and membership details.