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59th St. to 110th St., btw. Fifth Ave. and Eighth Ave. (Upper East Side/Upper West Side)
New York, NY
(1) 212-310-6600 | www.centralparknyc.org
POPULAR TIMESWeekends; summer
RESERVE IN ADVANCENo
WAIT TIME WITHOUT RESERVATIONNone
HIGHLIGHTSBrunching at the Boathouse; Shakespeare in the Park in the Delacorte Theater; Bethesda Fountain; Conservatory Garden; Strawberry Fields; Sheep Meadow; The Mall and Literary Walk; Central Park Zoo; ice skating in the winter
SUBWAY5th Ave.-59th St. (N, Q, R); 59th St.-Columbus Cir. (1, A, B, C, D); 81st St.-Museum of Natural History (B, C); 96th St. (B, C); 103rd St. (B, C); 110th St.-Cathedral Pkwy. (B, C); 110th St.-Central Park N. (2, 3)
First-time visitors to this iconic 843-acre park: prepare to be overwhelmed. Inside the elegant iron railings fencing off Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s 19th century masterpiece of urban gardening are literally hundreds of sights and activities, from gondola rides to Shakespearian drama to pick-up baseball games. If you’ve got a sporty streak, you can scratch the itch with a hike through the wilds of the Ramble, a run around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir (Jackie O herself used to jog here), wintertime ice skating in the Wollman Rink, or (if you’re really getting into the swing of things) a twirl with the colorful characters who perform roller skate tricks near the volleyball courts. If breaking a sweat isn’t your thing, more leisured pursuits include brunching with well-heeled Manhattanites at the Loeb Boathouse, sunbathing on the Great Lawn, resting on a bench next to the elegantly ornate Bethesda Fountain, or taking a romantic sunset carriage ride.
GO HERE WITH
Friends; family; a date; kids
WHY WE LIKE IT
No matter the season, no matter how much time we have, no matter what we’re in the mood for, no matter who we’re with, there’s always something to do in Central Park. Some of our favorite activities are taking in summertime Shakespeare in the Park performances at the open-air Delacorte Theater (when we can snag tickets), going for a scenic jog along the six miles of drives, (which are closed to vehicle traffic after 7:00pm), strolling the European-style walkways of the Conservatory Garden, people-watching from well-placed benches (especially at the end of a busy Fifth Avenue shopping day), and enjoying a picnic at Sheep Meadow. In the summer, Central Park is one of the city’s venues for Summerstage, New York’s largest free performing arts festival. This is an ideal stop for those with kids in tow too–besides the fact that you can let them go totally bananas on the many lawns and playgrounds, there’s also a zoo, a quaint carousel, and a “castle” (Belvedere Castle) to keep them entertained.
WHAT WE WOULD CHANGE
It can be really hard to navigate, especially if you’re a Central Park beginner. If there are sights you absolutely must visit, don’t rely solely on the signs in the park to get you there–buy a map or sign up for a walking tour.
GOOD TO KNOW
The park is huge–it covers 6% of Manhattan–so we never try to cover it all in one day. If you're aiming to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time, join a tour or hire a rickshaw. Or, rent a bike and follow the many bike paths through the park—it’s not only faster but more fun on two wheels. And if you’re striking out on your own for a wander, check out the handy signs in front of many of the sights (like sculptures)–they provide a number you can call if you want more info about what you’re looking at. Think of it as an audio guide! On a more serious note, although Central Park earned a pretty crummy reputation during the ‘70s for being grimy and dangerous, the combined efforts of the Central Park Conservancy (who spruced up the park and restored many original features) and the New York Police Department (who created a special policing arm for the park) have made it a scenic, safe, and family-friendly destination. However, as in any major city, it’s still a good idea to avoid remote or poorly lit areas of the park if you’re walking alone late at night.
Read more about Central Park in The Diary
All information within this website was checked for accuracy at the time of publication. But since the world moves quickly, things may have changed. Pardon us for any errors as we strive to give you the most up-to-the-minute details!