Things to do in New York

Exploring Central Park New York – Tours, Sights & Tips

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843 acres stretching from the 59th Street to the 110th Street, occupying almost 6% of Manhattan is the Central Park New York for you. This vast expanse of lush greenery is a refreshing breather from the concrete jungle of New York making it the most visited urban park in the United States of America.

With a dozen things to do like bike trails, pedicab ride, quaint picnic spots, many a illustrious sculptures, ponds, zoos and much more; the Central Park New York has something for everyone. With so much to do and see, it demands a day’s attention if you’re a visitor in New York who wants to see it all. Moreover, it’s vibrant and buoyant air remains the same year round, be it on a balmy summer afternoon or chilly winter night. So, no matter what time of the year you plan to visit the Central Park New York, you will have a great time.

Without strolling the Central Park, your trip to New York is incomplete, so here’s a comprehensive guide on all you need to know about Central Park New York; all that you should do and how you can go about doing them.

How To Explore Central Park New York - Tours

There are many ways to get around Central Park New York, each one with its own set of pros and cons. Listed below and 7 best Central Park tours that will help you explore New York's lung the right way. Take a look and grab tickets for the one that suits you best.

Self Guided Walking Tour

Self Guided walking tours around Central Park is the most cost effective option and if you're one to like wandering and don't mind a few wrong turns, then this is your best bet. However, plan your route in advance and carry a map so that you have an idea of where you're going and what you're likely to see. While these tours give you the freedom to set your own pace, you lose the comfort of a knowledgable guide who can help you make better sense of all that you're seeing. Moreover, there are chances you may get lost and loose time and track.

Central Park New York

Walking Tour

Walking tours around Central Park are the absolute best for many a reasons. It's economical and takes you to places that cannot be accessed by bikes, pedicabs and roller blades. Most Central Park Walking Tours last for 3-4 hours but due to the undulating terrain,it can be quite tiring. If you have mobility issues you should consider option for the other modes listed below. If you're up for a Walking Tour around Central Park, click the link below and book your tickets now!

Central Park New York

Themed Walking Tour

There are many themed walking tours around Central Park catering to those of varied specific interests. One of the most popular ones if the Movie & TV Sites Tour that takes you through 30 film and television shooting locations. From Breakfast at Tiffany’s to When Harry Met Sally, ,Serendipity and Home Alone 2, you'll get a chance to walk the footsteps of iconic film stars. Other themed tours Geology tours, Landscape tours and even Pokémon Go tours!

Central Park New York

Bike Tour

While walking is great, biking allows you to cover more ground. You can see more of the park in lesser time, hence saving time and a little energy. Bike tours require you to purchase tickets in advance, so those who land in Central Park on an impulse, may miss out on experiencing Central Park on a bike. Guided Cycle Tours are even better as you have a local expert with you showing nooks and corners that you may have missed otherwise That said, booking Central Park Bike Tours can be done in a jiffy and they are economical as well! Click the link below and book your Central Park Bike Tour today.

Central Park New York

Pedicab Tour

Pedicabs are basically a bike with large seats in the back for riders. Pedicabs are hugely popular around Central Park and are an exciting way to get around the Park. Your driver will double as a local guide showing you around and pointing at fascinating aspects of Central Park. It is less tiring too, as you just have to sit back, relax and consume the hues of Central Park. Though pedicabs are a tad bit more expensive, they are worth the money especially if you're not one to exert. Book discounted tickets for Central Park Pedicab Tours from Headout by clicking the link below.

Central Park New York

Horse & Carriage Tours

This is the most romantic and classy way of getting around Central Park. The most expensive too, but if you're in the mood to splurge, a Horse & Carriage Tour of Central Park is where you should be spending your money. Strotting leisurely around the bliss greens of Central Park and exploring its its many bridges, fountains, and statues on a horse-drawn carriage is simply charming. Though it's easy to spontaneously book Central Park Horse Drawn Carriage Tours, we'd recommend buying tickets in advance online to save yourself a few dollars.

Central Park New York

Roller Blading Tours

This is yet another fun way of touring Central Park. Strap on some rollerblades, grab a map and roll your way through the Central Park. Since these are not guided tours, you have the liberty to stop and stare at all that you please and craft your own itinerary. If you see you and your partner rollerblading through Central Park during your New York visit, you can grab these discounted tickets from Headout and explore Central Park hand in hand with your loved one.

Central Park New York

12 Must See Attractions at Central Park

While Central Park is brimming with things to do and see year round, you may have to prioritise and see a select few if you're a tourist in New York. If you have just a day in Central Park New York, hit these 12 prime spots in Central Park and you can proudly say that you've seen it all.

1. Bethesda Terrace and Fountain

Central Park things to see

The Bethesda Terrace and Fountain is often considered the heart of Central Park New York. It has been featured in countless films and television series ( Sex & the City, Avengers, Enchanted & Elf to name a few) and it is most likely that you have been this fine structure through your screen at some point in life. It's always bustling with people and those who like people watching can sit here for hours together. The central feature is the Bethesda Fountain also known as the Angel of the Waters statue, a biblical allusion and a celebration of the development that first brought water to New York City way back in 1842. The angel in the statuehas her hand out which denotes blessing the water for New York and the lily in her other hand represents the purity of the water.

2. Belvedere Castle

Central Park things to see

Belvedere translates to beautiful view in Italian and it is rightly called so. It sits atop the Vista Rock and offers great views of the Delacorte Theater, Turtle Pond and the Ramble from its vantage point. The Belvedere Castle was built in 1869 for decorative purposes and served the purpose of a lookour over the Croton reservoir to the north and The Ramble to the south. For a while it was also used by the National Weather Service to take weather readings for New York City. The Belvedere castle was renovated in 1983 and is now a Nature Center which displays information about the flora and fauna of Central Park. If you're a bird watcher, you have the option of rent bird watching kits at Belvedere Castle.

3. Strawberry Fields

Central Park things to see

This area of Central Park is an ode to the famous Beatles song “Strawberry Fields Forever”. You will notice a mosaic that says "Imagine" which was was unveiled on October 9, 1985; what would have been John Lennon's 45th birthday. You will see many floral tributes and letters strewn across here the floor by fans in honor of John Lennon here year round.

4. Central Park Zoo

Central Park things to see

It is said that the Central Park Zoo happened by accident. New Yorkers kept leaving exotic animals around Central Park and soon the Park was taken over by swans, bears and rabbits.This lead to the need for a zoo to house all these animals and hence the Central Park Zoo came about. This zoo's shot to fame was the Madagascar movie. Don't forget to see the Sea Lion Pool which happens to be a central feature of the zoo. On your way out, check out the Delacorte Clock which features animals that move in a circle to nursery rhymes every half-hour.

5. Wollman Rink

Central Park things to see

The Wollman Rink lies to the Southern Part of Central Park. The rink remains open for ice skating during the winter months - October to April, and in summer it transforms into Victoria Gardens, an amusement park. During the months that the Wollman Rink remains an ice rink, skating schoools, ice hockey games, film shoots and photo shoots happen full swing making it crowded almost always.

6. Sheep Meadow

Central Park things to see

A gigantic green area that gets crowded in the warm months. People come here for picnics, play, tanning, etc. This grassy meadow gets its name from the sheep that once grazed here.New Yorkers flock in to bask under the sun, enjoy a picnic and casually laze on dewy grass. It can get so crowded in summer that you may have to carefully hunt for a spot. Check out the famous Tavern on the Green restaurant while you're here.

7. The Lake

Central Park things to see

Boating in this bucolic lake on a bright sunny day is sure to lift your mood up a couple of notches. There are boat rentals ( Loeb Boathouse is to the east side of the lake ) that allow you to rent rowboats for $15 per hour with a $20 cash deposit and gifts you an hour of bliss. Most boat rentals provide lifejackets too allowing the experience to be safe and fun.

8. Delacorte Theater

Central Park things to see

The Delacorte Theatre is a open air theatre renowned for its free Shakespeare in the Park shows, a favourite New York summer tradition. All theatre enthusiasts come together to enjoy free Shakespeare and the tickets remain free as long as you're prepared to stand in queue for tickets for a good while. While this Public Theatre is known to provide a footing to new talent, it frequently employs famous actors like Meryl Streep and Al Pacino among others. The Delacorte Theatre boasts a capacity of 1,872 with each seat offering splendid views.

9. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir

Central Park things to see

The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir was built in the 1860’s as a standby water supply for the city during the period the main Croton Reservoir System was shut down for repairs.A dirt jogging track goes around the water and is said to be Jackie Onassis’s favorite running spot during the time she lived in New York. Once the Reservoir was decommisioned, it was re-named in her honor in 1994. Talking a walk around this reservoir is said to be simply calming.

10. Wagner Cove

Central Park things to see

One of Central Park New York's lesser known treasures , the Wagner Cove is located at the far edge of the Lake with a rustic shelter and 2 wooden benches. This snug area houses abundance of foliage and slate gray rocks giving it a magical clearing feel. If you're up for a relaxing picnic, a good reading spot or a quiet date, the Wagner Cove is ideal.

11. Bow's Bridge

Central Park things to see

If you've seen Night at the Museum and Spider-Man 3, you're likely to have seen the Bow Bridge. It stretches 60 feet from Cherry Hill to the Ramble and is one of the most beautiful cast iron bridges in the world. It is a romantic spot and if you're lucky you'll see a proposal here, because they happen a lot! Amongst the many bridges in Central Park New York, this is the most famous one of them all.

12. Conservatory Garden

Central Park things to see

Bang in the middle of a bustling Central Park is the 6 acre Conservatory Garden, a quiet hidden oasis. It is the only formal garden in Central Park and its tranquil atmosphere free from runners and bicyclists, makes it an ideal spot for relaxing strolls and both weddings.The Garden was designed by Gilmore D. Clarke, and composes of seasonal plants arranged into three styles: English, French, and Italian. Entry to the Conservatory Garden is through the Vanderbilt Gate and from here, you can amble past the magnolia and lilac trees of the English garden to the rest of this well manicured garden.

Visiting Central Park - Practical Information

Central Park Timings

Open daily from 6:00 AM – 1:00 AM

Central Park Entry Fee

Entry to Central Park has been free since 1858

Directions to Central Park

Central Park is massive and if you're wondering how to get there by subway, here are the routes you should keep in mind. From all these subway stations, the Central Park is a short jaunt away.

By Subway

  • A, B, C, D, 1 - 59th Street/Columbus Circle
  • B, C - 72nd Street; 81st Street; 86th Street; 96th Street; 103rd Street; 110th Street
  • 2, 3 - Central Park North/110th Street
  • N, R, W - 59th Street

By Bus

  • M10 - To reach Central Park West Side
  • M1, M2, M3, M4 - To reach Central Park East Side
  • M57, M66, M72, M79, M86, M96, M106, M116 - These buses run West to East and East to West along 57th, 66th, 72nd, 79th, 86th, 96th, 106th & 110th Streets

Central Park Map

If you're opting for a self guided tour , you will need a map to get around Central Park and hit up all the prime attractions. We'd suggest downloading this Central Park Map on your phone and navigating yourself. This Central Park Map covers all the attractions and other hidden gems that you ought to see.

Central Park Eateries

Central Park has full fledged restaurants as well as cafes and carts selling snacks and treats. Some of the recommended eateries at Central Park are:

Tips for Visiting Central Park

  • Always have a map in some form while visiting Central Park. Either on your phone or a printed version, this map will take you a long way here. This is specially for those embarking on a self guided tour as chances of getting lost in Central Park is quite high. If you want to save time and make the best of your day, map to the rescue.
  • Some event or the other happens at Central Park year round, so try squeezing in an event during your visit. Most events happen during Summer, so if take a break from the attractions hunt and spend some time with the locals during an event. We recommend Philharmonic in the Parks and Shakespeare in the Parks! Check the Central Park New York event calendar before setting out.
  • Grab a drink with a view at The Loeb Boathouse and you won't regret the few extra dollars spent. Not too many people know about the outdoor bar here, hence it's quite and offers the best view in the house.
  • All the visitors centers- Belvedere Castle, Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, Chess & Checkers House, Columbus Circle Information Kiosk, Dairy Visitor Center remains closed on Thanksgiving Christmas and New Year's.
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