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.
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.
The 1923 Yankee Stadium was a historic landmark in the world of Major League Baseball. Some of the sport's greatest players spent their careers there, including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio. Though they'll never be able to replace that historic monument, the franchise debuted their new stadium in 2009, directly across the street from the old park. The "new" Yankee Stadium has many new features, such as expanded walkways, more concessionaires, and a renovated Monument Park. Lifetime fans will notice familiar touches, though, the biggest among them being the outfield frieze back in its original location around the upper deck. Suite and party facilities are available for those looking for something slightly more private. Check the website for pricing, schedules and other info.
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.
The Sands Point Preserve makes full use of its 216 acres: landscaped gardens lead to tangles of trees, meadows become cliffs overlooking beaches, vines of honeysuckles and other flowers surround a freshwater pond, and a castle sits on sweeping lawns. Explore Long Island history by touring the elegant gray-stone Hempstead House or the French eclectic Falaise, after exploring the natural beauty of this diverse environment on 6 marked trails. Educational visits are welcomed, and festivals or special events often take advantage of the spectacular scenery. See website for details.
Central Park's Heckscher Playground is the oldest and also one of the largest at 1.8 acres (0.73 hectares). The playground has standard features such as swings, slides, and see-saws, as well as a large grass field and six softball fields. Other highlights include a group of concrete hills with a series of ladders and tunnels and a water feature for kids to play in. The playground has its own restrooms and snack carts located in the Heckscher Building.
Grand Army Plaza is one of two historic NYC sites that pay homage to the Union Soldiers who fought in the Civil War (1861-65). After the war, this fraternal organization began as the Grand Army of the Republic and it was the forerunner to many veteran's groups in the present-day. This plaza located at the southeastern end of Central Park features a magnificent gilded statue of William Tecumseh Sherman, the war general who is most known for his sack and burning of Atlanta. In front of Sherman, the goddess Victory leads him upon his horse. On the other end of the plaza, a beautiful fountain with the goddess Pomona is hidden from the tumult of 5th Avenue and it provides a fleeting moment of peace in the urban jungle. The other Grand Army Plaza is located in Brooklyn, adjacent to another spectacular space, Prospect Park.
Located within the sprawling confines of the Central Park, the outdoor Wollman Rink is one of the city's premier ice skating spots. Opened in 1949, this rink has drawn native New Yorkers and travelers from around the globe to partake in a city tradition. The atmosphere is fun and relaxed, and amateurs are certainly welcome. Try and visit on the weekdays, as the weekends bring large crowds and lines. Skate rentals and lockers are available and the snack bar beats the in-between hunger pangs. During the off-season, the space becomes a roller rink or hosts events.
Broadway is synonymous with entertainment, so this walking tour is exactly that: as fun and engaging as it is fascinating and informative. Each of the renowned theaters you'll visit—among them the Winter Garden, New Amsterdam, Paramount, and Shubert - has its own wonderful stories to tell and secrets to reveal. The tour recounts the legendary shows, stars and stages that have made this district the center of the theatrical universe with Times Square at its very core. See where Eugene O'Neill was born and where Burt Williams broke the color barrier. Discover the roles Broadway icons like George M. Cohan, Father Duffy, Rogers and Hammerstein, and Andrew Lloyd Weber played in its history and development. All this is set against the stunning resurgence the theater district enjoys today. Prepare yourself for two hours of nonstop entertainment and surprises. The tour meets at the Times Square Visitor's Alliance center on 7th Avenue between 46th and 47th St. Look for Uncle Sam's Ticket Agent with a flag.
Learn about the performances, history and actors that have shaped Broadway on a fun and educational walking tour through the Theater District. Inside Broadway Tours are run by licensed NYC tour guides who know both theater history as well as backstage stories. You'll learn interesting Broadway facts and entertaining tales, making this the perfect tour whether you're a theater aficionado or you've never seen a show before.
The Ice Rink at Rockefeller Center has been a regular New York tourist fixture since its inception in 1936. Even though it is one of the most popular ice skating rinks of the city, it is actually quite small compared to many other rinks. During the holidays, the rink can become a bit crowded, but skating under the great Christmas tree is a once in a lifetime experience. Nonetheless, if you're here just to enjoy the lively ambiance and indulge in some people watching, the mezzanine above the rink is a nice, second option.