12 things to see in Central Park, New York

by Ale Werner

This huge park is one of the biggest attractions in Manhattan, New York. With 341 hectares there is a lot to see in Central Park and in this article we will tell you the must-sees. Also, in the end, we leave you a map of Central Park with all the marked places so you can plan and make the most of your visit.

About Central Park in New York

A little bit of history for context.

This place may seem completely natural, but the truth is that it was completely created by man; You find enormous artificial lagoons, forests, 1500 tree species, arched bridges, pedestrian paths and much more. The park was completed in 1873 and is a source of pride for the city, an area to escape completely from the busy life of New York.

What time of day is the best to see Central Park?  

In general, people recommend visiting it for a whole day, but for us, the best time is to reach it during the morning, hopefully before 09:00 am, and leave type 12:00 of the day to another part of the city. You can travel it in two mornings, for example, and you will surely enjoy it much more.

How to see the Central Park of New York?

Bike

Our recommendation is that you do it by bicycle. One of the best things to do in Central Park, New York, is to enjoy pedaling it!

You can rent, but you’ll get much more money to take a daily pass at the many City Bank bike stations that are scattered throughout the city. Even if you are lucky you can find an electric one to not get so tired with the many ups and downs in the park, which is not at all flat. Keep in mind that in some areas you can not pedal your bike, like the smaller roads, so you’ll have to leave it parked.

Walking

Another alternative is to walk, but this will take you hours and will be several kilometers if you want to see everything. Keep in mind that they are 4 kilometers long and 800 meters wide, huge!

In a guided tour

If you do not have much time and want to see all the main things, hiring the help of an expert in the park through a tour is an excellent alternative, it is very easy to get lost on the roads and end up circling around.

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This option is also highly recommended for all those who want to know better the history of the city and the park because they can go telling everything you are watching.

Top 10 things to do and see in Central Park

The Pond and Gapstow Bridge.

The Pond is one of the artificial lakes of Central Park, located in the southeast corner of it. It stands out for being very quiet, in general with much less movement than the others. You can picnic on the rocks on the shore and see the huge Manhattan skyscrapers from there. It is also very popular for bird watching, an activity that every year thousands of people who come to the park do.

Visit the Zoo

This is recommended especially for families with children and for those who want to rest for a while watching animals. The zoo became very popular for the animated film Madagascar, where several animals escape from it. However, do not expect to see the famous lion, but if you can find seals doing crazy things, penguins, bears and some animals of unknown species.

To relax for a while can be a good alternative, and even better if you travel with children as a day in Central Park can be extremely tiring for them.

Sheep Meadow

A huge grassy plain, and the favorite of New Yorkers and travelers to rest after a busy day of work or to get to know the city. During the summer and spring it is very normal to see people sunbathing, enjoying a rich picnic and playing with small children. This place is perfect for fun and dispersion being alone, as a couple, with your family or with friends.

Keep in mind that during the winter closes for better conservation, like many other parks and squares in New York. In our case we went to the end of October and November, so we could not see it.

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The Mall

No, it’s not any type of shopping center. “The Mall” is the name of a pedestrian walkway that crosses part of the south of the park to Bethesda Fountain and “The Lake”, the largest artificial lake in Central Park.

This is in our opinion one of the most beautiful walks in Central Park and you just can not miss it. Formerly it was the official place of walk of the upper class of New York, where they left them in the south of the avenue in their carriages and then they could walk by the park and its small ways until the bridge of the Bathesda terrace where their drivers and horses they would be waiting to continue the walk through the park or the city. “The Mall” was perfect for the direct path of the carriages from one point to another.

Around it, you can find beautiful “American Elm” trees that were typical at the time but are nowadays quite rare. This is the largest remaining exhibit of these trees.

Bethesda Fountain and the terrace.

In this place, hundreds of movies, television series, short films, music videos and what you can imagine have been filmed. No matter the time of year it is always beautiful this place taken from another century, and is that it was literally built along with the park in the mid-1800s.

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It went from being a meeting point at the time of construction of the park to one of drug trafficking in the mid-1900s when in 1980 it was decided to restore both the fountain and the terrace together with a full plan to bring it to life again the Central Park.

The Bethesda Fountain is the largest in New York, preceded by a two-story terrace with stairs on both sides and behind to access the low level that borders the large lake, definitely, a must see in Central Park. From here the views of the park and the lake are wonderful, but it can also be one of the most popular tourist spots because of its popularity. We recommend you visit it before 10 in the morning to enjoy it calmly. During the summer and spring, you can see water in the fountain, which goes off during the winter and fall.

Strawberry fields and John Lennon Memorial, Imagine.

Strawberry Fields is a space of one thousand square meters in Central Park that commemorates the life and death of John Lennon. In it, you can walk through several paths between elms, flowers and other trees and shrubs that were donated and planted by more than 120 countries. Its name is by one of the popular songs of The Beatles. The memorial to John Lennon, known as “Imagine” is a mosaic in black and white stones at the entrance to Central Park that overlooks this place.

It was decided to put him here because he lived together with his wife, Joko Ono, in the Dakota building on the adjacent street and it was under him that he was killed in 1980. Today hundreds of tourists visit the memorial every day, while for the anniversaries of his birth and birthdays have special commemoration activities where thousands of people attend.

The Lake, the big lake of Central Park

If you go during the warmer months to New York you can not miss renting a boat in The Lake and paddling through its waters. This is definitely one of the things to do in Central Park’s favorite visitors. Seeing the park from the water gives you a completely different perspective. If you go in winter, you can also walk along the shores and enjoy the huge frozen lake in contrast to snowy trees and huge buildings in the background; Surely this postcard place is not easily found.

Bow Bridge

Bow Bridge at 9 in the morning

A must do in Central Park is to cross the famous Bow Bridge, the most beautiful bridge in the park in the opinion of practically all who visit it. It was built between 1959 and 1962, so its architecture is very period, and declared today as the most romantic place in New York, ideal to visit on a trip as a couple to the Big Apple and even place several proposals of marriage a month.

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It is also extremely photogenic, you can not miss it. The best view is from “Rock with a View” west of the bridge.

Belvedere Castle

The castle (it’s small, do not imagine anything giant) is the best place to get views of Central Park and the line of buildings that surround the park. Today it is a visitor center and gift shop, but the views definitely make the visit worthwhile to note this place as one of the points to see in Central Park, New York.

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Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir (big lake)

It is a giant water reservoir that at the beginning of the construction of Central Park served a large part of this area of Manhattan. Today is one of the favorites to run, ride cars and enjoy a walk by New Yorkers, with almost 3 kilometers in circumference and a path that goes along the edge of the reserve. Without a doubt, a trip to it will allow you to appreciate the park from different perspectives, and it is something you should do in Central Park.

Conservatory Garden

It’s worth going through here during your visit to Central Park. This garden also dates from the time when the park was opened and is divided into three sub-gardens with different styles: English, French and Italian. At its entrance, there is a huge and wonderful iron door. It is ideal for walking through its small walks between trees and flowers, passing through several pergolas and sculptures.

The best time to see it is, of course, in the spring. This is when all the plants bloom giving a truly beautiful view of him.

Walk through the north of the park

Maybe it’s not the most popular part, but it’s definitely where you’ll find more tranquility within the park. One of the things to do in Central Park is to get lost in its paths … There are hundreds of them in the northern part that pass through grassy plains, forests of huge trees, bridges and arches where the roads cross at different levels and other natural attractions , like a smaller lake known as The Loch. There are also some viewpoints at high points from which to get views of the park and the skyline of the city that borders it.

Our recommendation is that you leave the map aside and miss a while on the roads, enjoying and disconnecting. Sure you find many places that will surprise you.

Bonus: Watch the filming of a movie in Central Park

If you are as lucky as we may be, you will run into a movie or series. If you have even more luck, you’ll see a famous actor up close. Each month several scenes are recorded in this place, which besides being the most visited park in New York is world famous.

Map of Central Park

As we know that getting lost is extremely easy, we leave you this map of Central Park with all the points we touched previously marked. This way you can organize your visit well and make the most of your time!

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