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.
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.
This massive cathedral, situated across from Rockefeller Center on Fifth Avenue is regarded as the largest Catholic cathedral in the United States. With its two soaring 330-foot spires, St. Patrick's Cathedral is also one of the city's most spectacular architectural sights. Construction on the neo-gothic structure had started in 1850 and completed in 1878. Inside, it boasts of numerous altars and stained glass windows, and a giant organ with over 7,300 pipes. Services are held throughout the day, and many New Yorkers stop in for a moment of serenity in their otherwise hectic lives.
The Apollo Theater is a distinguished and legendary landmark in Harlem. Originally it was a burlesque hall for an all-white audience when it opened its doors in 1914, but by the 1930s it became home to legendary jazz greats like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington. The theater has been restored, and every Wednesday at 7:30p the stage is opened to amateurs; when heckling is not just common, but expected. There are also musical performances held on other nights. Admission varies. Call for details.
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 powerhouse in the modern art world doubles as one of the best-known museums on the globe. Its galleries burst with intriguing exhibits showcasing mediums ranging from painting and drawing to print and illustration. Photography fans will also find a lot to love at the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art). Classic artworks closely associated with the museum include Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe and Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. Should your appetite for food begin to compete with your appetite for art, there is a charming restaurant on site, as well as a gift shop to browse on your way out.
Home to the legendary dance company The Rockettes, Radio City Music Hall is one of the most spectacular and famous performance venues in the United States. Its locale in the heart of the Big Apple has made it a cultural center, particularly during the Christmas season. Originally opened in 1932 and nicknamed "The Palace for the People," Radio City was renovated in 1980. Anybody who is anybody has performed here - New York legends Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Sammy Davis, Jr. are just a few that spring to mind, and to this day, the stage remains a showcase for entertainment royalty.
A national historic landmark, Rockefeller Center spans a massive 22 acres (8.90 hectares) in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. The center's namesake, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., was the sole financier of the ambitious project, making this one of the world's largest private building ventures in modern times. The complex is composed of 14 Art Deco buildings built in the 1930s alongside five others - one that was completed in 1947 and another four built in the International Style. The splendid design of these historic buildings is matched by a spectacular array of attractions including the Top of the Rock Observation Deck that grants a show-stopping view of the city, Radio City Music Hall, NBC Studios, several shops, and restaurants. A sprawling complex resplendently embellished with Art Deco details, the Rockefeller Center is a historic treasure with a modern twist.
Larger-than-life billboards, the collective flicker and flash of neon lights, mesmerizing digital screens and a famously atmospheric spirit sum up the allure of the bustling Times Square. Christened after the New York Times, which moved its office to this location in 1924, the vibrant milieu of this busy square deeply echoes the city's ethos. Riveting Broadway marquees, a diverse set of shops, restaurants of every type and stripe, and towering buildings beyond vie for attention. Somewhere amid a sea of tourists who are likely making their way to the iconic red steps for panoramic views of this spectacle, a big crimson tourist bus inches its way toward the next monumental attraction. Meanwhile, longstanding fixtures of this place contribute to its hugely legendary status, from the Coca-Cola sign, the colossal M&Ms World store and Times Square Studios, to the TKTS booth, the Hard Rock Cafe, and Planet Hollywood.