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What to See at Central Park

A guide to making the most of your visit to Central Park

· 7 min read

Central Park is one of the most iconic destinations in New York City, and it's no surprise why it is on the itineraries of most travelers. Not only is the park a filming location for many movies and shows, the park also offers endless opportunities for recreation, relaxation, and exploration. Planning to visit Central Park and not sure where or how to start? Here’s a guide to help you with your visit.

Source: Central Park Conservancy

Landmarks and Highlights

Central Park is home to several iconic landmarks that you can visit. These landmarks make great photo spots and helps you to appreciate the park’s history and architecture.

The Pond (South End)

As soon as you enter Central Park from the South End, you'll be greeted by The Pond - a tranquil oasis despite being just a stone's throw away from the hustle and bustle of Fifth Avenue. The Pond is a serene haven that is home to a wide variety of stunning waterfowl, including graceful egrets and majestic herons. The picturesque views make The Pond a great location for photos, and be sure to strike a pose with the iconic Gapstow Bridge in the backdrop!

The Mall (South End)

The Mall in Central Park is a sight to behold! This iconic destination is not only one of the most famous spots in the park, but it's also one of the most beautiful. As you stroll down The Mall, you'll be surrounded by a stunning canopy of interlocking branches from towering American elm trees, creating a cathedral-like atmosphere that will take your breath away. The southern end of The Mall is also known as Literary Walk, thanks to the line-up of 6 statues of famous writers that grace the promenade. It's the perfect spot to soak up some inspiration and pay homage to some of the greatest literary minds of all time.

The Mall isn't just a feast for the eyes - it's also a hub for performers and artists. As you walk along the promenade, you might also be treated to live music, mesmerizing street performers, and talented artists showcasing their work. It's a beautiful addition to any day in Central Park and is sure to leave you feeling inspired, energized, and awe-struck.

Bethesda Fountain and Terrace (South End)

Bethesda Fountain.webp
Source: Central Park Conservancy

Bethesda Terrace was designed to be the heart of Central Park, and is arguably Central Park’s most ornate architectural masterpiece that steals the show from the beautiful natural landscapes of the park. The designers wanted visitors to the park to be able to retreat from the city and experience nature even while they socialised with each other. The ideology has been intricately integrated into the designs of the terrace, as can be seen in the carvings along the stairway.

Alice in Wonderland (South End)

Source: Central Park Conservancy
Source: Central Park Conservancy

Get ready to fall down the rabbit hole and into the magical world of Alice in Wonderland! The Alice statue in Central Park is a whimsical and enchanting monument with characters straight out of Lewis Carroll's classic children's book. As you explore the statue, take some time to appreciate the incredible attention to detail and try to find all the delightful characters hidden throughout the scene. From the White Rabbit to the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter, there's something new and exciting to discover at every turn. But that's not all - the Alice statue is also climbable! That's right, you can climb up the toadstool and sit in Alice's lap for the ultimate photo opportunity.

Strawberry Fields (South End)

Source: Central Park Conservancy

Strawberry Fields has been redesigned as a “living memorial” to the late Beatles legend John Lennon who lived, and tragically died, just across the street. The mosaic in the pavement is a gift from Naples, Italy. It bears the word ‘IMAGINE,’ the title of one of Lennon’s most famous and beloved songs. But Strawberry Fields isn't just a memorial - it's also a beautiful oasis in the heart of the city. With lush greenery, tranquil ponds, and stunning views of the surrounding skyline, it's the perfect spot to relax, reflect, and soak up the beauty of nature.

Central Park Reservoir (Mid-Park)

Source: Central Park Conservancy

The reservoir is the largest body of water in the Central Park and takes up a whopping one-eighth of the park. It is the perfect place to soak in the feeling of space and enjoy breathtaking views of the sky. There is a running path around its perimeter, perfect for a scenic morning or evening jog. And if you visit during the spring, you'll be treated to an extra special treat of the cherry blossoms and azaleas.

Huddleston Arch (North End)

Source: Central Park Conservancy
Source: Central Park Conservancy

The Huddlestone Arch was built in 1866, and is made entirely of natural stone and boasts a Gothic-style design that's reminiscent of ancient European castles and cathedrals. As you approach the Huddlestone Arch, you'll be struck by its impressive size and intricate details. The arch is adorned with ornate carvings, intricate stonework, and towering spires that reach towards the sky. It's a true testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the architects and builders who created it over 150 years ago. If you visit during the fall, you'll be treated to a truly unforgettable sight of vibrant orange, red, and yellow leaves that create a stunning backdrop for the arch, turning it into a true work of art.

North Woods (North End)

Source: Central Park Conservancy
Source: Central Park Conservancy

The North Woods is the largest woodlands within Central Park, offering a stunning escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. As you explore the North Woods, you'll feel like you've stepped into a whole new world. The dense canopy of trees creates a sense of seclusion and privacy, while the sound of rushing water and chirping birds fills the air. And if you're a fan of wildlife, keep your eyes peeled for the resident raccoons, turtles, and other critters that call the North Woods home.

Things to do at Central Park

In addition to seeing the landmarks and enjoying the nature, Central Park also offers many opportunities for recreation and relaxation. Here are some of the things that you could do at Central Park.

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Source: Ahodges7 | Wikimedia Commons

Visit the Central Park Zoo

Did you know that the Zoo was the real-life inspiration for the blockbuster movie, Madagascar? That's right, the park's wild inhabitants are the stars of the show, and with over 130 different species to marvel at, you'll feel like you've been transported to a different world. Get up close and personal with the majestic snow leopards, watch the playful penguins waddle and swim, and be amazed by the agility of the sea lions.

Source: Central Park Zoo
Source: Central Park Zoo

The Zoo is home to a variety of exhibits, including the Tisch Children's Zoo, where kids can pet and feed friendly farm animals, and the Polar Circle, where you can experience the icy landscapes of the Arctic. Don't forget to check out the Central Garden & Sea Lion Pool, where you can catch one of the daily feeding shows and witness these magnificent creatures in action. Check out the full schedule of the feeding shows to help you plan your visit.

From November to March, the Zoo is open from 10 am to 4.30 pm, and from April to November, it stays open until 5 pm on weekdays and 5.30 pm on weekends. You can purchase your tickets to the Zoo online.

Have a picnic

Picnic at Central Park
Source: Central Park Conservancy

With lush greenery and stunning views of the city skyline, Central Park has many different areas to choose from for a picnic in the park, ranging from secluded spots to open fields. Some of the best picnic spots include the Sheep Meadow (not open during winter), Great Lawn (not open during winter), Arthur Ross Pinetum, and the North Meadow (not open during winter). Cedar Hill and Great Hill are also a great options for a picnic during the warmer months, and during winter, is a great place for sledding.

Join a guided tour

Source: Central Park Conservancy

If you wanted to learn more about Central Park while exploring the area, there are various ways that you could do so. There are self-guided tours that are available on their website that you could download. Audio guides are also available to guide you through the various attractions and landmarks of the park. If you prefer something more personal with a guide to explain the attractions, the park also offers tours of various themes that you can choose from.

Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Source: Hugo Schneider | Wikimedia Commons
Source: Hugo Schneider | Wikimedia Commons

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, often simply called the ‘Met’, is located in the East of Central Park. It is one of the largest and most comprehensive art museums in the world, with a collection of over 2 million works of art spanning 5,000 years of world culture. The museum's collections include everything from ancient Egyptian artifacts and classical Greek and Roman art to European paintings and sculpture from the Middle Ages to the present day, as well as collections of African, Asian, and American art.

🗺️ Address: 1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028, United States

Key Information

Source: Colin W | Panoramio
Source: Colin W | Panoramio

🗺️ Address: Central Park stretches from 59th Street to 110th Street, between Fifth Avenue and Central Park West

🕤 Opening Hours: 6am - 1am all year round

🚇 Nearest Subway Stations:

  • South End of the park: Columbus Circle Station, 57 Street Station
  • Mid-park: 72 Street Station, 77 Street Station
  • North End of the park: 86 Street Station, 96 Street Station, 110 St-Cathedral Pkwy Station, 110 Street Station – Central Park North