New York City, New York – Central Park

Comprising six percent of Manhattan, New York’s favorite playground stretches 6 miles (9.7km) from Central Park South at 59th Street to Central Park North at 110th Street, with Fifth Avenue and Central Park West forming its eastern and western boundaries. Built on what was once swampland, quarries and pig farms, it took architect Calvert Vaus and landscaper Frederick Law Olmsted 20 years and 10 million cartloads of stone and earth to create this emerald green space known as New York’s “backyard”.

The park now attracts 25 million visitors every year to enjoy its hills, lakes and meadow. There are more than 500,000 trees and shrubs, 52 fountains, monuments and sculptures and 9,000 benches to rest on. A colourful array of skaters, cyclists and joggers whiz by and Frisbees and kites fly past.

With a no cars policy on the weekends, surrounded by the city skyline but with six designated quiet zones, it’s also a place to retreat from the buzz or the busy museums for a while. However, there are many things to do here; activities on offer include skating, croquet and chess. Children will be entertained by the discovery centres, workshops, carousel and playgrounds. You can also have a meal in one of the parks restaurants, or catch a concert.

To get an idea of how big this 840 acre park is, if you walked all the pedestrian paths, it would add up to 93km! Put on sturdy shoes and get oriented with a map, downloadable from the website or available along with information at the Dairy, a quaint Victorian Gothic-style visitor centre. To get an overview, a walk from 59th to 79th streets takes in some of the best the park has to offer. The Ramble, a wooded area scattered with paths and streams is a highlight; a stop on the migratory route, it is the place for bird-watching. The walk also passes some of the 36 bridges, artificial lakes and the Bethesda Terrace, which reopened in March 2007 with a newly restored, exquisite Minton tile roof.

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