Central Park lies in the heart of Manhattan, stretching from Midtown to Harlem. It was created in 1857 by Frederick Law Olmstead 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, seeing everything from early morning joggers to couples on romantic strolls. Cyclists, rollerbladers, and those who simply enjoy fresh air also frequent Central Park. Attractions within the park include the Bethesda Fountain, Conservatory Garden, Belvedere Castle, and Central Park Zoo. If you visit with kids, be sure to swing by the famed Carousel for a charming afternoon activity.
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 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.
No trip to the Big Apple is complete without a visit to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Designed by Richard Morris Hunt, the museum covers more than 1.5 million square feet (139,355 square meters) of exhibition space. European paintings on display include works by Monet, Degas, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Titian, and Vermeer. Elsewhere, the Egyptian gallery is endlessly fascinating and Asian art, armory, and photography galleries astound. When the weather is nice, you'll even find contemporary sculptures displayed on the open-air roof garden. Apart from being a treasure trove for art lovers, The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers a fun-filled and educational experience for all ages.
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.
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.