Right in the heart of Manhattan stands this oasis of rolling pastures and gardens, stretching from Midtown to Harlem. It was created in 1857 by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, and sprawls over a wonderful 843 acres (341.15 hectares). Bustling with activity, walkers, rollerbladers, bikers and joggers hurriedly compete for space while lovers meet at the Bethesda Fountain on Bethesda Terrace. To the north, visitors wonder at the architecture of Belvedere Castle, and found nearby is the Delacorte Theater where plays are staged during summer. Over time, Central Park has blended so seamlessly with Manhattan that it is hard to disassociate the two. Also within its folds are other delights, including the Central Park Wildlife Conservation Center and the Central Park Zoo, as well as the wonderfully-restored Carousel.
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.
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.
Any visitor to the Big Apple should spend at least a couple of hours at this The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Designed by Richard Morris Hunt, it has 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. The Egyptian gallery is unparalleled, while Asian art, sculpture, armory, and photography galleries also vie for your attention. During warm weather, the open-air roof garden displays contemporary sculptures. Apart from being a treasure trove for art lovers, this museum provides 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.