Conservatory Garden in Central Park is just that kind of place.
Named for the conservatory that formerly occupied the space, the Garden is a six-acre escape from asphalt insanity. Flowers are everywhere, dotting the landscape and climbing the impeccable pergolas. This little patch of pastoral is actually a composite of three distinct gardens of differing European styles—English, French and Italian. The Italian is the first one you see, as you enter the Garden from Fifth Avenue, with an expansive lawn leading to a fountain on the far end of the garden. This is a popular spot for wedding parties—you can often find lines of tuxedos and dresses getting their pictures taken in the idyllic setting.
Taking a right, you are led past the border hedges into the French-style garden, where the bronze statue of Three Dancing Maidens in the center fountain draws your attention. It is one of the few times you will see three people locked in a frolicsome chain—if real people were to do this in Central Park, they would be ridiculed and searched for controlled substances by NYPD.
The southern English Garden is a quieter, more shaded maze, and includes another statue depicting a scene from the famous English story The Secret Garden. This seems to be the most peaceful of the arboreal threesome, where the sun is less prevalent and so are the people. Everything in the garden is planned to perfection. None of the elaborate shrubs grow out of their well-defined bounds, and the well-placed fountains fill the air with a pleasant burbling that helps you forget the urban gears grinding beyond the Garden fence.
The Conservatory Garden is a great place to go with a book on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Sitting on one of the many park benches, you can bask in the sun, and watch actual butterflies alight on living flowers.