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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.
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.
Covering 250 acres (101 hectares), the New York Botanical Garden is a blend of rocks, waterfalls, hills, rivers, woods, ponds, plants, and of course, flowers. The property is beautiful and a National Landmark and includes an interactive area for children. The restored Enid A. Haupt Conservatory is a Victorian-era greenhouse. Don't forget to visit the Shop in the Garden - a store which offers a wide range of goods, from books and garden products to jewelry and body products. Admission prices are higher during peak season, so check the website for details. For those interested in fresh fruits and vegetables, the garden hosts a farmer's market from June through November each year.
Built in 1903, The New Amsterdam Theatre is one of the oldest theaters in New York City. Home to the original Ziegfeld Follies, unfortunately it had fallen into disrepair for a number of years and almost closed forever. During the renovation of Times Square in the early 1990s, it was purchased by Walt Disney Company and fully restored. It reopened in 1997 to house the Tony Award winning show, The Lion King. Tickets are expensive and hard to get, but don't let that discourage you.
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.
This bronze statue in Central Park is a popular attraction for kids. Commissioned by George Delacorte and sculpted by Jose de Creeft in 1959, Alice in Wonderland is a tribute to the famous Lewis Carroll novel. The sculpture depicts Alice, the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, and the Dormouse gathered around a troop of mushrooms. The statue is designed for children to climb and play on. Look for Alice in the eastern section of the park, just north of the Conservatory Water near East 74th Street.
The peninsular region of Coney Island offers lofty stretches of sands and makes for a perfect place to head out in summers. Apart from the stunning views of the sea, a walk along the coast will also acquaint you with a number of recreational options ranging from sports facilities to amusement rides. The area is a popular tourist hangout and therefore, is replete with an excellent number of eateries for all tastes. Irrespective of whether you just want to chill out by the beach or have a blast, you're bound to have a good time here. A number of attractions are close by if you want to venture out.
A renowned entertainment venue in the Big Apple, Madison Square Garden has gained iconic importance around the world. Attracting crowds since 1968, the stadium is abuzz with voices of Knicks and Rangers fans. With a capacity of 18,000, it is considered to be Midtown Manhattan's revered and oldest entertainment spot. From glamorous music concerts to award shows, the venue has witnessed some of the biggest events over time. A sought after venue in New York City and sitting right above Penn Station, it is easily accessible for everyone.
Opened as The Republic Theater by Oscar Hammerstein in 1900, The New Victory Theater was the first theater to be renovated as part of the 42nd Street revitalization. Since its re-opening in 1995, it has become the premier theater for family entertainment. From theater and puppetry to dance, the world's top children's companies flock to this lovely space. Though marketed directly to kids and families, the level of performances are so diverse and exceptional that adults should not pass on the chance to visit this unique cultural stage. Check the website for show updates and other details.
Walk the deck of the 900-foot (274-meter) aircraft carrier Intrepid, best known for its role in World War II, and witness thought-provoking exhibits on aviation as well as deep sea and space exploration. Tour a submarine and take a virtual flight, in addition to viewing vintage and modern airplanes parked wing to wing. The interactive programs and events are designed for all ages and guarantee an educational yet fun experience. The stunning interiors and the panoramic views on the outside make The Intrepid a must-visit.
The Jewish Children's Museum, primarily geared towards elementary school-age children through the eighth grade, is a museum for children of all faiths. Visitors will experience Jewish history, values, and traditions in a manner that inspires an increased interest in Jewish culture. Permanent exhibits such as "Exploring Jewish Life" teach children about Jewish holidays and foods while "Exploring Jewish History" teaches children about the Land of Israel and the Holocaust. Kids can take a journey through Judaism on a miniature golf course where each hole represents a different stage of the Jewish lifecycle or test their Jewish knowledge in a Jeopardy-style game show quiz. School and youth group programs can be arranged.
The American Museum of Natural History is a popular attraction and one of the largest natural history museums in the world. The museum houses a vast collection of artifacts, displays and exhibits, all geared to reveal secrets of the beautiful natural world. The visit begins with skeletons and live-size replicas of elephants, dinosaurs and other extinct creatures, which welcome you as you enter the main hall. Other points of interest include the Hall of Human Biology and Evolution, the Hall of Meteorites, a vast collection of gemstones, an IMAX theater and the Rose Center for Earth and Space planetarium shows (at extra cost), as well as a research library. The museum offers a number of specially customized public and group tours as well as educational programs and trips, enabling visitors to explore the exhibits in detail. Please note, there are separate entry fees for certain exhibitions and programs, the IMAX theater and shows at the Rose Center for Earth and Space. Please check the website for more details.