The city's 'back yard' is where locals come to escape New York's deeply urban vibe. Just a step away from the hustle and bustle of Fifth Avenue, Central Park is a green oasis in the heart of Manhattan - and a magnet for anyone in search of a slice of tranquillity. Walkers, in-line skaters, sun bathers, Frisbee fans, couples, families and everyone else in between flock to the park year round - and it's a perfect place to base your New York holidays 2014.
The park has something for everyone. Walkers follow the hiking trails that snake through its leafy woodlands; couples stroll across the Lake's Bow Bridge, pausing to watch the row boats passing underneath; rollerbladers flash along paved drives, past the softball players on Great Lawn and the picnickers on Sheep Meadow ; and children shriek with delight in their bid to conquer the park's 21 playgrounds.
There are certain sights you should not miss. Belvedere Castle, a restored Victorian folly, sits at the parks' highest point and provides sweeping views. The Conservatory Garden is a riot of colour and a must for garden fans with its beds formally laid out in Italian, English and French styles. Meanwhile, Strawberry Fields, named in memory of John Lennon who was shot dead at a spot close by, provides a place for quiet contemplation.
There are also certain things you might want to try. You can take a spin on the Friedsam Memorial Carousel or watch the Central Park scenery glide by from the comfort of a horse-drawn carriage. You can rent a bike and explore the Park's hidden corners for yourself, or showcase your best Torvill and Dean moves on the skating rink from November to March. Because whatever the season, and whatever the weather, Central Park has plenty to offer.
Central Park Zoo
What's not to like about fluffy snow leopards and mad monkey capers? The park's zoo is divided into different habitats, including tropical and polar (yes - polar bears!), plus you can join in the fun at feeding time, when it's every penguin and sea lion for themselves. Younger kids can enjoy getting up close and personal with the animals at the Tisch Children's Zoo, where petting is positively encouraged!
The Metropolitan Museum Of Art
The vast collections at the Met are truly mid blowing. There's centuries of human genius on display here, from the relocated Ancient Egyptian Temple of Dundor, through paintings by the Great Masters to costumes worn by Jackie Onassis and Madonna. And if you hit culture overload, you can simply repair to the Met's fabulous rooftop garden café and martini bar.
Shakespeare In The Park
Every Summer you can catch night-time performances of Shakespearean classics at Central Park's open air Delacorte Theatre - all for free! With the atmospheric backdrop of Belvedere Castle and Turtle Pond, plus some big names treading the boards, a magical evening is assured.
Fifth Avenue can take care of pretty much everyone's shopping list. Just about every big name in retail has a store here, and there's also Saks and Bergdorf-Goodman to shop your way through. There's even something for the kids - FAO Schwarz, one of the world's biggest toy shops.
Take To The Water
Get a new perspective on your New York holidays 2014 by leaving the streets behind and taking a Circle Line boat tour on the River Hudson. Glide under Brooklyn Bridge, peak up Wall Street, raise a salute to Lady Liberty and discover a raft of fascinating facts about the city's history along the way.