Central Park in New York

Central Park

Central Park in New York is a large park in the middle of Manhattan, spanning from 59th to 110th Street (and Fifth to 8th Avenue). Constructed artificially, with bits of untouched nature here and there Central Park welcomes up to 42 million visitors a year. It’s no wonder that Central Park is known as the ‘beating heart of Manhattan’. The scenic driveways in Central Park are car-free and the park offers a huge variety of attractions and activities. No matter the season, there’s always something to do.

Eric’s Tip: “Central Park is massive, as explained below. To see the best parts of Central Park, you can explore the park on foot, by doing the walking route in my Eric’s New York App. You can also rent a bike and cycle through the whole park in a couple of hours and see all of its main highlights.”

Attractions in Central Park

There are many attractions in Central Park: you won’t be able to see everything on your first visit. I’ve put together a list of my favourite things to do in Central Park so you can make the most of your time.

The Great Lawn

The Great Lawn is a large field in the middle of the park (from 79th up to 86th Street). With baseball and basketball courts, in addition to space for numerous other sports. Free concerts are also held here during the summer months.

Strawberry Fields

In 1980 Beatles icon, John Lennon was assassinated in front of his apartment block (the Dakota Building), just opposite Central Park. Strawberry Fields was designed after his death and is a symbol of peace. Located on the spot in the park where he was always happy, fans leave flowers, poems and candles here every day in his memory.
Westside, between 71st and 74th Street

Central Park - Strawberry Fields

Belvedere Castle

A castle was built in the 19th Century on top of Vista Rock, one of the non-artificial rocks in the park (which is 450 million years old!). Until the ’60s, this place was used by the New York Meteorological Observatory to predict the weather. Belvedere is Italian for ‘beautiful views’: the castle certainly does its name justice.
79th Street, in the middle of the park at Turtle Pond

Central Park - Belvedere Castle

Central Park Zoo with Children’s Zoo

Lions, monkeys, penguins and polar bears can all be found at Central Park Zoo. You may recognise this zoo as it was used as inspiration for the movie, ‘Madagascar’. There is also a special Children’s Zoo, where children can stroke the animals. Goats, sheep, cows and pot-bellied pigs can be seen up close.
Eastside between 63rd and 66th Street

Central Park in New York - Zoo Central Park in New York - Central Park Zoo

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir

The reservoir was named after Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in 1994 as a tribute to her great commitment to the city of New York. It was also her favourite place to go running. This is still a popular running spot, especially in the spring because the trees bloom beautifully. The whole loop is 1.5 miles.
85th to 96th Street, from east to west

Sheep Meadow

Sheep Meadow is a lovely place for some r and r. Many New Yorkers come here in the summer to sunbathe, people watch and picnic. The skyscrapers peek out above the trees, which makes for a pretty picture. Until 1934, it was a pasture for sheep to graze. The shepherd lived in a nearby building which is now a famous restaurant, Tavern on the Green. Sheep Meadow is also the place where movies are screened outdoors, at the end of August. Admission is free.
Westside, from 66th to 69th Street

Central Park - Sheep Meadow

Tavern on the Green

Tavern on the Green is a chic restaurant situated on the west side of Central Park. The menu focuses on using local, seasonal ingredients. You can have lunch or dinner here in a classic setting with a great view of the park. Tavern on the Green is a nice restaurant for a special occasion or romantic dinner for two.
Westside, 67th Street

Central Park in New York - Tavern on the Green Restaurant Central Park in New York - Tavern on the Green Restaurant

Shakespeare Garden

A beautiful garden, growing some of the flowers and plants mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare. There is a mulberry tree, said to be an offshoot of a tree planted by Shakespeare himself in 1602.

Shakespeare Garden is located close to the Delacorte Theater. From May to August his works are enacted here, during Shakespeare in the Park. This is a wildly popular series of performances, celebrities like Al Pacino, Meryl Streep and Natalie Portman have performed here over the years. Free tickets are available but you have to stand in line, on the day of the play. There are also a limited number of tickets for sale.
Westside between 79th and 80th Street

Central Park in New York - Shakespeare Garden

Hidden Waterfalls

Did you know that Central Park also has waterfalls? Not a lot of tourists know about them, they are beautiful, tranquil places. There are five waterfalls in total, all artificial and New York’s drinking water flows through them. Enter from the west side of the park at 102nd Street and follow the flow called ‘the Loch’ (up to 106th Street).

Central Park in New York - Waterfalls Central Park in New York - Waterfall

Bethesda Terrace

Bethesda Terrace is the heart of Central Park. On the steps, you have a wonderful view of the lake and the Great Lawn. Under the stairs, due to the great acoustics, street performers often sing or play instruments. In the middle of the square is the Bethesda Fountain, one of the most famous fountains in the world. Also known as the Angel of the Waters, below the angel four cherubs symbolise health, purity, temperance and peace.
Middle of the park, near 72nd Street

Central Park in New York - Bethesda Fountain Central Park in New York - Bethesda Terrace

Loeb Boathouse

Opposite Bethesda Fountain, on the other side of the water, lies the idyllic Loeb Boathouse, a place where you can rent rowing boats. Of course, you can also just relax and enjoy a snack and drink with a fantastic view of the lake.
Eastside between 74th and 75th Street

Central Park Loeb Boathouse

Naumburg Bandshell

Central Park’s only Neo-Classical building, The Naumburg Bandshell is used for hosting acoustic music events. Elkan Naumburg: a banker and philanthropist from New York, funded the construction of the bandshell in 1923. When not in use, park-goers can usually be found sitting on the stage or just admiring the architecture.
Mid-Park from 66th to 72nd Streets

Winter Fun

From the end of October to March, you can go ice skating in New York. You’ll find the Wollman Rink in Central Park. You can purchase tickets in advance for the ice skating rink.

Wollman Rink: 59th Street & 6th Avenue (stay right when you enter the park)

Getting around in Central Park

Of course, you can explore the park on foot, but there are several other ways to get around in Central Park. Hop on a bicycle or an e-scooter, or take a guided tour to learn more about the different sights. You can also book a carriage ride.

Renting Bikes

The best way to explore Central Park is by bike. Renting bikes in advance is highly recommended; you pay less and are guaranteed a bike. Central Park has a one-way loop, making it very easy to cycle around the entire park.

Central Park in New York - Biking Central Park in New York - Bike Tour

Electric Scooter Rental

Electric scooter rental in New York is a unique way to explore Central Park. The scooters are easy to use and can go quite fast. A guided scooter tour through Central Park can be booked as well. Hop on the scooter and see all the sights of the park.

Central Park Walking Tour

During this two-hour walking tour in Central Park, you will learn about the interesting history of the park and its development. You’ll stop at famous locations including the Strawberry Fields, Belvedere Castle, Central Park Mall and Bethesda Fountain. You will explore the park in a small group.

Book your Central Park Walking Tour here

Central Park - Autumn

Other Fun Facts

  • It’s the most popular filming location in New York – Over 350 movies have been filmed in Central Park
  • Roughly 16 million New York apartments could fit into Central Park!
  • The park is larger than the Principality of Monaco
  • To make the four roads that pass through the park, so many rocks had to be blown up that more gunpowder was used than at the Battle of Gettysburg, during the American Civil War

Central Park Bow Bridge

Why is Central Park famous?

The scenic Central Park is known as the ‘beating heart of Manhattan’ and offers many attractions and activities. Read all about Central Park and its sights here.

How long does it take to walk around Central Park?

Central Park is huge and has many attractions, so you can spend many hours there. Rent a bike and see the whole park in a couple of hours.

How much does it cost to get into Central Park?

Entrance to Central Park is free. You do, however, have to pay for some attractions and activities such as entry to the Central Park Zoo.

What's the best part of Central Park to walk?

There are a lot of things to see in Central Park, so I've gathered all the best parts of the park here. Download Eric's New York App and follow the Central Park walking route to see the highlights.

About the Author

Hey there, I'm Eric! I'm a true New York fan with over 20 years of experience visiting and living in NYC. Here on my website, I share all my tips and valuable information to help you make the most of your trip. I personally test and regularly re-test everything on my site to ensure that what I write is useful, honest, and always up-to-date.
If you have questions, need more free tips, or want me to check your itinerary, please email me at eric@newyork.co.uk. You can also follow me on Facebook to get daily updates from New York.

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