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.
A splendid public Arboretum and a beautiful historic site, the Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park encompasses nearly 400 acres (160 hectares) 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. .
Located on 28 acres (11 hectares) of beautiful gardens and woodlands, this non-profit cultural institution overlooks the Hudson River. Wave Hill is dedicated to exploring the interaction between human beings and the natural environment. It maintains four historic buildings and five greenhouses and has won many awards for its gardens. Its Arts Program presents the work of contemporary artists and landscape professionals. Partake in educational, horticultural and art programs that are held at the cultural center from time to time. Come enjoy the feast of nature in its own arms.
The Bronx Zoo is the largest urban zoo in the United States. It houses thousands of animals, ranging from lions and monkeys to sea lions and sloths. The Congo exhibit features lowland gorillas, pythons and other central African animals. A modern zoo, it places animals into re-creations of their own ecosystems. Also, a plethora of activities held at the zoo provide an educating and entertaining experience for adults as well as children. Admission prices vary according to season, so check the website for details.
At over 897 acres (363 hectares), the Flushing Meadows Corona Park is Queens' largest and New York City's fourth-largest. It is the site of two former world's fairs, one in 1939 and the other in 1964, as well as the home to the famous symbol of the 1964 Fair: the Unisphere. While its immaculate pastures are home to several public facilities such as the Shea Stadium, the home of the mighty New York Mets, the USTA National Tennis Center, along with the New York Hall of Science, the Queens Museum of Art, the Arthur Ashe Stadium, Citi Field and the Louis Armstrong Stadium are definitely Flushing Meadow's most noticeable sights. The park really comes to life during the American Open, when it receives its highest number of attendees.
The stellar zoo located within the sprawling Central Park is one of the most recognized wildlife attractions in the city. Part of a network of four zoos within the city, Central Park Zoo adheres strictly to sustainable and environmentally friendly practices apart from boasting great facilities for the animals. Animal cages have been removed, in favor of open-air habitats. In the Polar Circle, glass walls allow you to see penguins and polar bears swimming just inches from your face.
Central Park has many wonders and it takes quite some time to see them all if you are just visiting, however if you live here, one of the best, hidden secrets to escaping the bustle is the Ramble. This 36-acre trail space will definitely make you feel as if you left the concrete jungle and entered a nature wilderness. Along with the lake that surrounds it, the Ramble has many meandering trails that lead from the Loeb Boathouse to Belvedere Castle and through to Strawberry Fields on the other side of the lake. As with many attractions in Central Park, you could easily spend a day here and wonder where the time went.
The Shakespeare Garden located within Central Park was built to pay homage to one of the greatest English poets and playwrights, William Shakespeare. The garden is located right next to the Delacorte Theater where the play 'Shakespeare in the Park' is held. Created in 1913, the park was renamed in 1916 as a dedication to the great poet. The serene garden is apt for a nice walk or to relax by the bench.
Turtle Pond situated near the Belvedere Castle in Central Park is named so because of the existence of different species of turtles in it. As many as five species of turtles call this beautiful pond their home. A designated quiet zone, this is an ideal spot for you to relax under the shade on a pleasant day reading your favorite book.
In the midst of the bustle, noise and pollution of Turtle Bay, the Tudor City Greens provide an oasis of peace and tranquility. Located on either side of East 42nd Street and under the first multi-building residential complex in the world, these not-for-profit greens are run under the auspices of Tudor City itself. Stroll down the cobblestone paths on a lazy afternoon, watching flowers bloom or enjoy an al fresco lunch break on one of the bistro-style chairs which are strategically placed all around the park. When you are done, don't forget to visit Ralph Bunche Park and take the Sharansky Steps to the United Nations across 1st Avenue.
Located in the Ford Foundation Building on East 43rd Street in Tudor City, this urban atrium filled with subtropical, hanging gardens is one of Midtown's best kept secrets. Established in 1967, the 160-ft. atrium garden features tree-lined pathways that are perfect for escaping the tumult of the city. As visitors look up, they will see different species of plants hanging along the edges of the building tiers. It's a nice place to catch your breath when exploring Tudor City or the United Nations.