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Best Budget Activities in New York

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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.

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 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.

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.

Located in The Staten Island Botanical Garden, this garden was designed by the Landscape Architecture Corporation of China and has a collection of beautiful pavilions, walkways and courtyards. Scholar gardens are a concept unique to the Ming and Qing dynasties around 200 years back. A scholar or administrator belonging to the royal court would design these enclosed gardens. In these gardens the scenery changes beautifully, leaving a wonderfully dramatic impact. Guided tours are conducted on weekends, please check the website for specific timings.

Brooklyn's Coney Island became one of the city's leisure hotspots in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, following the introduction of the Coney Island & Brooklyn Railroad streetcar line. Since then, the area has been swamped by resorts and attractions. Following the decline of World War II and the years of neglect the park endured after, the area has burst back into life and is home to Luna Park, the Aquarium and of course, the beach. A three-mile-long boardwalk runs the length of Coney Island into Brighton Beach. There is sometimes a circus, but always something strange to see. Also, don't let the non-holiday cooler months deter you from visiting; it is much less crowded, and the stores remain open.

Although its reign as a summer resort destination in the 50s and 60s has long since ended, this lovely beach is set for a come back once people realize how beautiful and close-by this beach truly is. Located on the south shore of Long Island in Queens Rockaway Beach provides New Yorkers with a beach that is accessible by subway. This beach is perfect whether you want to swim, surf, fish, play volleyball, or just enjoy strolling besides the ocean. Don't miss out on visiting the 1908 St. Rose of Lima Church to admire the classic architecture of the Rockaway subway stop.

New Yorkers love this small park in the heart of Midtown. With its French benches, colorful flower gardens, green lawn and numerous cultural events, Bryant Park is a peaceful place to take a moment to watch the world go by. Named after poet William Cullen Bryant, the site of this historic park has played an important role in New York City. After being officially designated a public park, the site's fortunes rose and fell with the times. A brilliant restoration in the 1990s transformed the space into the beautiful midtown oasis it is today. The park's March hours vary throughout the month, so be sure to check the website before visiting.

Imagination Playground is a revolutionary space conceptualized by David Rockwell of Kodak Theatre fame. This interactive playing field promotes the free play philosophy significant to a child's all-round development and growth. The safe, walled area features random objects like foam blocks, cloths, cartons, crates, wagons and sand giving children the rare opportunity to build their own games and toys from seeming waste items, in turn nurtuting their creative minds. A favorite among locals and tourists alike, it is a recreational oasis amidst Burling Slip's urban backdrop.

The largest pool in the city, Astoria Park Pool is a true New York treasure. This pool measures in at 330 feet (100 meters) and was designed to hold 3000 people. With a magnificent view of the Triborough Bridge sitting just along the horizon, a more scenic setting for a public pool is hard to imagine. During a scorching New York City summer day, there are few places more desirable to find yourself in.

This is a great place to go with younger children. It is a small zoo with a large variety of animals and one of the largest reptile collections around. It also has a petting zoo that young children will love. The Staten Island Zoo is cash only.

A short ferry ride from Lower Manhattan takes visitors to the serene and verdant Governors Island, where the city seems as if it is a world away. The island showcases its picturesque self during summers; in fact, it only opened to the public after 200 years of restricted military usage. The island affords some incredible views of it surrounding waterscape, Red Hook, Brooklyn, the Verrazano Bridge and the Manhattan skyline. The island is also home to some stirring historical sites like Castle Williams, Liggett Hall and the Admiral House, which are an escape into the island's past. Having played an integral role in the American Revolution, this island is a coastal paradise par excellence.

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