You might think that NYC, with its skyscrapers and bustling avenues, is the last word in urban, the ultimate built-up metropolis – and you'd be right. But slap bang in the middle of Manhattan, the frenetic pace of the city suddenly slows to a gentle dawdle, as you step under the eaves of Central Park: 341 hectares of lawns, lakes, trees and tranquillity in the core of the Big Apple. With snowball fights and ice-skating in winter, horse-and-carriage rides and Shakespeare al fresco in summer, the park is a year-round haven for harassed New Yorkers – and for visitors, who flock to picnic under its flowering cherry trees, skull out in a rowing boat, or enjoy the statues and sculptures dotted around its grounds.
Saunter round Central Park on a sunny day, admiring tulips and daffodils and the beautifully-scented wisteria in the Conservatory Garden. Spot herons and cormorants in the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, named for President Kennedy's First Lady, who used to enjoy jogging in the park. There's plenty of art and architecture to appreciate amidst the greenery: the soothing undulation of Bow Bridge over the boating lake, the graceful arches and staircase of photo spot Bethesda Terrace, and pretty rock-founded Belvedere Castle, built in the nineteenth century as a picturesque “folly” and now a weather station. Spot the Ancient Egyptian obelisk “Cleopatra's Needle”, more than three thousand years old, which marks the exit from Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art: its sister obelisks can be found by the Thames River in London and the Place de la Concorde in Paris, a cultural link between three of the world's greatest cities. And kids – and adults, come to that! - will love Balto, the bronze statue of the husky sled dog who helped deliver medicine to Alaska during a diptheria outbreak, and who looks so lifelike and alert that you'll expect him to leap down from his podium and fetch you a stick.