The New York Public Library system consists of 89 individual branches, but it’s this austere Beaux Arts building in Bryant Park—home to 75 miles of shelves housing a massive humanities and social sciences archive—that most readily comes to mind. The library’s free tours stop at the beautifully renovated Rose Main Reading Room and the Bill Blass Public Catalog Room. The program of special exhibitions rivals those of the city’s finest museums.
Every city park offers its own brand of verdant escapism, but this lush expanse goes beyond landscaped flora. In addition to housing swaths of vegetation, including the 50-acre forest featuring some of the oldest trees in the city, the garden cultivates a rotating roster of shows that nod to the world’s most cherished green spaces, such as the regal grounds of Spain’s Alhambra palace and Monet’s alfresco sanctuary at The Giverny. During the year, visit the garden’s Holiday Train Show, which features miniature NYC landmarks crafted from plant materials, and the Orchid Show, which offers a stunning display of blooms and exotic plants.
The Rockefeller Center
You’ll find plenty of iconic New York sites in this multi-block complex: The ground level is home to the Rock's famed ice-skating rink, the bronze Atlas statue and the Today show plaza. Higher up, Top of the Rock rivals the Empire State Building in panoramic city views, and you can inspect the Art Deco murals that appear in several buildings. Don’t miss the triptych above the outdoor entrance to 5 Rockefeller Center or the rink side Prometheus statue; both purportedly contain secret Freemason symbols.