And yet, out of all the iconic locations, a few stand out as almost synonymous with the words ‘New York’. One of which is the famous Central Park.
Let’s pretend for a second that you don’t know what Central Park is and why it’s a big deal. Allow me to enlighten you…
Central Park is the most visited city park in the world. The Park hosts around 40 million visitors annually. If that wasn’t impressive enough, Central Park also holds the title for the most filmed location in the world, with 532 movie credits.
Central Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, was the first landscaped public park in the United States.
Central Park Entrances
Choosing your entrance into Central Park is just as important as what you’ll do at central park. There are around 50 entrances at different points in the park. Your preferred entrance could depend on:
Where you’re coming from
You can save time and money by picking entrances closer to you.
Midtown entrances on 59th Street (South end).
Fifth Avenue entrances between 60th and 110th Streets. (East side)
Upper West Side entrances between 63rd and 110th Streets.
The North end entrances along 110th Street.
What you want to do
Are you a complete newbie? Do you have an event? Are you in the park for a specific attraction? Want to cut out the walk time? You can pick the entrance closest to what you want to do.
Entrances at the southern end of the park are close to horse carriages, Gapstow Bridge, and The Pond.
Entrances on the west side are closer to some great picnic spots.
Entrances from the North side are closer to the Central Park waterfall and have great locations to see the colors from Fall foliage.
The 5th Avenue entrances are closer to some of the major attractions like Central Park Zoo, Belvedere Castle, and Bethesda Terrace.
How long do you want to spend at central park?
Are you spending the whole day at the park? or is the park one of the several things on your “to-go-to” list? A strategic entrance can set you on a great route to see the whole park or a small part of it.
Getting Maps and Taking Tours
Once you’re at the park, your next decision is whether or not to explore the park by yourself or join a guided tour.
If you’re not familiar with the park but still want to go with self-exploration, you’ll need some information and possibly a map. There are many Visitor Centres to learn about park rules and get some directions and advice. Some of which are:
Dairy Visitor Center & Gift Shop (at 65th Street)
The Dairy Visitor Center was the first visitor center in Central Park. It now serves as the starting point for many Conservancy tours and a great place to head for questions and souvenirs.
Columbus Circle Information Kiosk on 59th Street
This Information Kiosk is right in front of the most popular entrance at Columbus Circle. Grab a map or two and head inside the park.
East and West 72nd Street Kiosks
There are Information Kiosks on the East and West ends of 72nd Street, outside the park entrances.
Central Park Map
Central Park Tours
Not a big fan of map reading? You can sign up for one of the many Central Park Tours.
Horse and Carriage Tour
If you want a fancy ride around the park, the carriage ride is the way to go. You can also customize rides for proposals, anniversaries, or birthdays.
Fast cardio, historical facts and trivia, amazing park views, and a little wind in your hair. Experience all these on a Bike Tour!
You can also join themed tours like:
Discovery Walks for Families: The Ramble
Weekly Walks: Fishing at the Harlem Meer
Hidden History: Women in Central Park Virtual Tour
What To Do at Central Park
There is no shortage of activities at central park. It’s a great place for families, adventurers, kids, historians, and lovers of nature. There’s something in store for everyone.
Picnics at Central Park
Enjoy outdoor picnics for family gatherings, romantic dates, outings with friends, etc. Here’s where to picnic in central park:
This 15-acre pastoral landscape is a great spot for larger picnic events. Keep in mind that it’s one of the park’s quiet zones. You can find the Sheep Meadow Between 66th Street and 69th Street on the west side.
ARTHUR ROSS PINETUM
The Arthur Ross Pinetum has a playground and seats and features up to 17 different kinds of pine trees. You can find the area between 84th and 86th street.
Cherry Hill is a serene picnic spot with beautiful views of the lake and the Yoshino cherry trees.
The Strawberry fields are a more intimate location for picnics. The Fields are a memorial for John Lennon, and as such were named after the Beatles song “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Strawberry Fields is located Between 71st Street and 74th Street on the west side of the park.
Central Park Sports
If you’re more of an active person, and a picnic sounds boring to you, how about a sport? There are so many options like tennis, basketball, roller skating, boating, football, cycling and so on. You’re sure to find an activity to get your blood pumping.
Central Park Tennis
How do you feel about playing tennis where Roger Federer once played? You can do just that at the Central Park Tennis Center. The tennis center is not too far from where the U.S. Open holds every year and hence sees a lot of celebrity visitors. Who knows, maybe you’ll spot one someday.
The tennis center has all the facilities you need to have a great time. It has 30 tennis courts available, good quality equipment, demo racquets, locker rooms, and a snack bar.
Swimming and Ice skating at central park
There are many bodies of water at Central Park but only one swimming pool – the Lasker pool. The pool is located between 106th and 108th Streets.
There is a wading pool and an Olympic-sized pool. There is also an ice-skating rink but Lasker’s rink and pool have been closed for redevelopment till 2024.
There are no other alternatives for swimming for now but you can still go ice skating at Wollman Rink in the park’s southeast corner.
Central Park Rides
Give your kids a treat at the carousel. The carousel is at 65th Street, in the children’s district. The ride has been remodeled 3 times. The carousel is open every day and is a must-stop attraction for young kids.
You can rent boats at the central park Lake and head out along its 20-acre span. Each boat can contain a maximum of 4 people so your group might have to split up if you’re more.
But that’s the perfect opportunity to have a friendly race. You can also rent a gondola and have the rowing done for you. Just don’t jump into the lake because that’s illegal.
Other Attractions at Central Park
Central Park Zoo
The Central Park Zoo is probably the most popular attraction in Central Park. The zoo is at 64th Street & 5th Avenue. The zoo features over 130 species including penguins, red pandas, snow leopards, sea lions, tropical birds, and so on.
A zoo visit is always in high demand so you need to buy a date-specific ticket online before going to the zoo. Their tickets are also non-refundable.
Tisch Children’s Zoo is a petting zoo within the main zoo where you can feed the animals and get up close to them.
One of Central Park’s most recognizable landmarks is Belvedere Castle. It is a miniature castle on Vista Rock, Central Park’s second-highest natural point.
The Belvedere castle offers stunning views of the Turtle Pond, Great Lawn, and the Ramble. The Castle also serves as a visitor center and a gift shop for the park. You can also have a picnic in the castle’s backyard.
Location: Central Park spans from 5th Avenue To Central Park West to 59th Street To 110th Street.
Phone: +64 6-740 8097
Central Park hours: 6:00 am – 1:00 am every day.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Where can I get souvenirs in Central Park?
A: Central Park’s Dairy Visitor Center & Gift Shop, Charles A Dana Discovery Center, and Belvedere Castle are a few options for souvenirs of the park.
Q: Can I find restrooms in Central Park?
A: Many Park landmarks and attractions come with restrooms or have restrooms nearby.
Q: How much snow falls in Central Park?
A: The most snow Central Park has received in one day is about 27inches.
Q: How (big) long is Central Park?
A: Central Park covers an area of 840 acres from 59th to 110th streets.
Q: Who designed Central Park?
A: Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.
Q: Can I drive around Central Park?
A: Cars are allowed on the Park drives at certain times, Each park drive has its own rules
Q: Where can I park in central park
A: You can find free street parking between 62nd and 110th Streets on the West side, and metered parking between 96th and 110th Street.
Q: Where are the cherry blossoms in central park?
A: The cherry blossom trees in Central Park are mostly found between 72nd and 96th Streets near Cherry Hill, Great Lawn, Pilgrim Hill, and Cedar Hill.