Central Park | New York Things to Do

Central Park is one of the most popular landmarks in New York City and no wonder, this beautiful park boasts picturesque walking paths, gardens, ponds, a zoo and more.

Address: Central Park Conservancy, 14 East 60th Street, New York, NY, 10022 
Phone: 212-310-6600
Hours: The Park opens at 6:00 a.m. and closes at 1:00 a.m.
Admission: Free

Central Park is more than just a place to enjoy an afternoon stroll and some interesting people watching.  An afternoon enjoying all the park has to offer is one of the most popular New York things to do.
There is so much to discuss and discover about Central Park, far too much to present in this article, so for this article we will focus on, the Top 10 Things to Enjoy in Central Park.

About Central Park:
The 840-acre Central Park opened in 1857. It was the first time a section of land was set aside as a public park. More than 150 years later, the Park continues to provide a green space in the middle of the City where both locals and guests can go to spend a day enjoying the outdoors.

Central Park is also home to Attractions like the Central Park Zoo and Belvidere Castle. Central Park became a National Historic Landmark in 1962 and hosts popular NYC Events throughout the year such as Shakespeare in the Park, concerts by the New York Philharmonic, and many other seasonal events.

See the Official Central Park Website for more information. 

The following are just 10 of the top things to do in Central Park:

1.    Walking Tour of Central Park:
The park is big, very big.  While it is possible to walk around the perimeter of the park in a day, in order to really enjoy the park and all the attractions, you’ll need to set aside more than one day.  To get around the best parts of the park you can simply walk along the perimeter of the park or along all the 6 miles of paved walkways and roadways located throughout.  You can explore the many garden, lawns, small gathering areas and trees, including the largest grouping of American Elms in the world. 

If you have trouble walking you can take a pedicab or a carriage ride around the park.  

Walking path in Central Park
Enjoy a walk-through Central Park

2.    Shakespeare in the Park:
For nearly 50 years, this very popular theatrical program has staged productions of Shakespearean plays and performances at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.  The tickets to the events are free of charge and are given away each day of the performances. Each summer schedule typically features two different productions, but not all productions are Shakespeare's plays.

3.    John Lennon and Strawberry Fields:
John Lennon was the beloved musician and part of one of the beloved bands of all time—The Beatles.  Sadly, John Lennon was assassinated, and to honor the musician and peace activist, the Strawberry Fields Memorial was created.  This area of Central Park was named after one of Lennon's favorite songs, "Strawberry Fields Forever." 

Strawberry Fields Memorial
Enjoy the John Lennon - Strawberry Fields Memorial

The memorial is a beautiful black-and-white mosaic with the word "Imagine" written on it, and it is located at the entrance to Strawberry Fields. Fans leave flowers, poems, and other tributes in remembrance of Lennon. 

The John Lennon/Strawberry Fields Memorial is located on the West Side of the Park, between 71st Street and 74th Street. 

4.    Central Park Carousel:
Children enjoy riding the Central Park Carousel.  The current Carousel was added in 1950.  The original Carousel was added in 1871 and was powered by horse and mules. The Carousel is entirely hand carved and hand painted…it is truly a working piece of art that you can ride!

The Central Park Carousel is located at approximately 65th Street and Sixth Avenue.

5.    Enjoy a picnic in Central Park:
We have all seen numerous movies that feature a romantic picnic in Central Park.  Many New Yorkers and tourists alike enjoy a sunny picnic in the park.  There are many grassy areas to enjoy a sit-down lunch, but Sheep Meadow and the Great Lawn are two of the most popular locations for the perfect afternoon picnic.  When you are finished with your lunch, walk by the Strawberry Fields/John Lennon Memorial which is close by.

6.    Take a Carriage Ride around the Park:
Almost everyone dreams of taking a Carriage Ride around Central Park, and we’ve all seen this activity in numerous movies and television shows.  

The horse-drawn carriages are in Central Park all year round and line up along Central Park South between Fifth Avenue and Seventh Avenue. Prices for the Carriage Rides vary, and they are negotiated directly with the carriage driver.  Be sure to have your camera ready to capture this amazing activity.

7.    Enjoy a Boat Ride:
Loeb Boathouse is the second largest body of water in the park. You can rent a small paddle boat at the Loeb Boathouse. The Row Boats can hold up to 4 passengers and are available for rent during the months of April to November based on the weather.  Gondola rides are available for something a bit more romantic, but you will need to make a reservation in advance.

A couple enjoying a boat ride in Central Park
Enjoy a Boat Ride from Loeb Boathouse

8.    Watch the miniature boats at the Conservatory:
You can sit back and watch the many model boats as they glide along the water.  If you are so inclined, you can also rent a model boat and join the others in guiding your own vessel.  Weekdays are much quieter for boat traffic on the Observatory if you are a little nervous about your sailing skills.

The Conservatory is loated on the east side of the Park from 72nd to 75th Streets.

9.    Visit the Central Park Zoo:
The Central Park Zoo is a great activity for kids and adults alike. The Central Park Zoo has been opened since 1988 and showcases over 130 different species ranging from Snow Leopards to colorful tropical birds, Penguins, Sea Lions and more.

There are many interesting exhibits throughout the zoo; you can feed Penguins, Sea Lions and the Children’s Zoo area hosts the only cow in Manhattan.

The Tisch Children's Zoo offers visitors a variety of interactive activities for children, including a petting zoo, climbing activities, and performances.

The Central Park Zoo is small at about 5 acres and is divided into habitats. The Central Park Zoo is located on the east side of Central Park between 63rd Street and 66th Street.

10.    Concerts in the Park:
During the summer months, Central Park hosts several exciting concerts, musical events and performances.  Naumburg Bandshell, Rumsey Playfield and SummerStage in Central Park are just a few of the concert locations and series offering entertainment.  See the Central Park Calendar of Events for the latest events and concerts. (http://www.centralparknyc.org/events)

There are many things to do, see, and experience in Central Park.  Make sure to allow for enough time to enjoy all this amazing New York landmark has to offer. 

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Couple having a picnic in Central Park