The best sights in Central Park
New Yorkers love Central Park, the nature and tranquility in the middle of the city, and the many sights, activities and events to be discovered there. So that you can experience New York’s famous park as the locals do, we have combined our knowledge, personal highlights and practical tips about the park in a Central Park Insider Guide.
What can you do in Central Park?
The huge Central Park is a green area in the middle of the grey skyscrapers of Manhattan and the green lung of New York. With more than 25 million visitors per year, it is a big attraction – not only for tourists. In this insider guide, we take you to New York’s largest park, to its bridges and lakes, fountains and statues, into the rowing boat and on your bike, under the most beautiful canopy of leaves and over the highest treetops, to free concerts and unforgettable events – and all this at any time of the year!
As always, our top 5 favorites in the park, the most important sights, best activities, best tours, restaurant tips nearby, hotel recommendations and much more are included.
We wish you a great time in Central Park, let’s go!
Our Top 5 in Central Park
- Bicycle tour
The best way to explore Central Park is by bike! There’s a great bike path that runs through the entire park and lets you explore the huge area much faster than on foot. You can easily rent a bike or join a guided tour.
- Great Lawn
The Great Lawn is one of the most famous lawns in the world! The largest lawn in the park is a wonderful spot to relax, picnic and enjoy the sun.
- City Park’s SummerStage
At this event, you can visit more than 100 events for free in 17 parks all over New York. Central Park is where most Summer Stage concerts are usually held. You can experience fantastic music under a starry sky in the middle of Manhattan – unforgettable!
- Loeb Boathouse
For a special restaurant experience in the middle of the park, we recommend the Lakeside Restaurant directly at the Loeb Boathouse. The idyllic location directly at Central Park Lake with a view of the romantic rowing boats is simply unique.
- Salon de Ning Rooftop Bar
The Salon de Ning at Hotel The Peninsula is the ideal rooftop bar with a view of Central Park. After a day in the park, you can enjoy excellent food and very good cocktails with a spectacular view of the park, Manhattan and 5th Avenue. Cheers!
Due to the large area of the park, there is, of course, a lot to discover and experience. On the map above, we have marked the 20 most important sights so that you can always keep track of them on your way through the park.
The best places to see in Central Park
You have probably heard of the John Lennon Monument Strawberry Fields, the Central Park Zoo and the legendary concerts in Central Park. But did you know that the park even has a fairytale castle, an Egyptian obelisk, a statue of a heroic dog and a carousel that is over a hundred years old?
Anyway, we’ve taken a close look at Central Park and summarized the best sights with background information and tips for you here. If you are coming to NY from other states, we recommend you to get an E-ZPass for a cash less toll experience
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir – The largest lake in Central Park
This landscaped lake in Central Park is used for jogging and was once Mrs. Kennedy’s favorite track – hence the name. Here you are in the middle of Manhattan and yet it feels as if you are in the middle of untouched nature.
The running track around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir is not enough for you? Then we recommend the beautiful big, almost 10-kilometer long jogging track up the East Drive and then down the West Drive. But be careful: the mountains are really tough!
Address: Between 86th and 97th Street Transverse
The bridges in Central Park – pure romance
There are about 13 beautiful bridges to admire in Central Park. Most of you might know the beautiful Bow Bridge from movies. It is especially popular with romantics because they regularly propose marriage there. On Bow Bridge, you can cross Central Park Lake and watch the many small rowing boats on the lake.
Address: On 74th Street above The Lake in the middle of the park
Great Lawn – The largest meadow
A meadow as a place of interest? It’s probably only in Central Park. In fact, the Great Lawn is one of the most famous lawns in the world! The literally “Great Lawn” is a proud 55 hectares and the geographical center of the park. In summer, New Yorkers love to gather here for picnics, sunbathing and just relaxing in the green.
The Great Lawn is not only famous for its size, but also for the legendary Central Park concerts. After all, Simon & Garfunkel, Diana Ross, and Bon Jovi have already given unforgettable concerts on the green lawn in front of more than 100,000 people.
The lawn is open from mid-April to mid-November and is closed during the winter months unless there is at least 15 cm of snow.
Address: In the middle of the park at 79th to 86th Street
Sheep Meadow – The most relaxed meadow
The famous Great Lawn is of course not the only lawn in Central Park. A little further to the south, the popular Sheep Meadow scores especially with the view to Manhattan’s skyline behind the trees at the edge of the lawn. On the wide meadow, there is always a spot to stretch out the legs or have a picnic in warmer temperatures. After a long New York tour there is hardly anything better than to lie down here and listen to the distant sounds of the city.
By the way, until 1934 Sheep Meadow was actually a sheep pasture.
Address: South of the park, between West 66th and West 69th Street.
Harlem Sea – A paradise for nature lovers
Away from the tourist crowds is the Harlem Sea. Here you can relax very well in the water. For all nature lovers, it is an absolute paradise because here is the most varied number of trees in the park as well as a variety of different plant species. In spring, especially the roses bloom beautifully here.
If you don’t want to walk all the way through Central Park, just take the subway to Harlem. It’ll take you right to the places that are less crowded.
Address: 1-99 Central Park North, in the northeast of the park
Belvedere Castle – A fairytale castle with a view
“Belvedere” comes from Italian and means “beautiful view”. And that’s not too much to promise. From the balcony of the castle of the same name you really have a beautiful view of Central Park and “Turtle Pond”. In the small lake in front of the castle turtles really have their home.
Address: At 79th Street Transverse in the middle of the park
Shakespeare Garden – Romantic walk
Here the hearts of theatre lovers will beat faster. The Shakespeare Garden is home to flowers and other plants mentioned in Shakespeare’s works. In addition to the colourful plants, there are also small boards with quotations from Shakespeare’s poems and plays in which the respective plant is mentioned. The romantic garden is ideal for a walk.
I KNOW A PLACE WHERE WILD THYME IS
A SLOPE ALL COVERED WITH VIOLETS;
Nearby is the Delacorte Theatre, where you can see free theatre performances in summer.
Address: 79th Street Transverse, not far from Belvedere Castle
Bethesda Terrace – The heart of Central Park
Bethesda Terrace is the heart of Central Park and one of the most important architectural landmarks. From the steps of the terrace you have a beautiful view of the lake and the Bethesda Fountain. The impressive ceiling of the Bethesda Arcade is made of over 15,000 tiles from the famous Minton Tile Company of England!
Under the stairs there is an amazing acoustic. This is the reason why there are always many street artists coming there that one can wonderfully listen to for a while.
Address: On the south shore of The Lake, near 72nd Street…
Bethesda Fountain – A Must See
The fountain in Central Park is a great place to relax in a beautiful setting. The bronze statue is often called Angel of the Waters. The Bethesda Fountain forms the center of the terrace of the same name and is a popular place for lovers and romantic movie scenes of many Hollywood movies. The Angel of the Waters statue on the fountain holds a lily in one hand, representing the purity of the water.
THERE ARE MORE THAN 125 DRINKING WATER TAPS IN THE PARK!
The fountain stands there in honor of the Croton Aqueduct water supply system that provides New York with its tap water. After all, the introduction of the aqueduct at that time greatly contributed to the reduction of diseases and fires in the city. A milestone in New York history!
Address: On the south shore of The Lake, near 72nd Street.
Cherry Hill Fountain – The famous fountain
Not far from the Bethesda Fountain, the ornate water fountain Cherry Hill is also a popular place in the park to take pictures. The fountain’s hallmark are the decorative squiggled lamps.
In former times the fountain was used as a watering place for horses, today the horse carriages just drive past.
Address: On the south-west shore of The Lake, near 72nd Street.
Alice in Wonderland sculpture – climbing fun for children
The bronze sculpture is especially popular with children. They love to climb on it and explore the hidden rooms. But the Alice in Wonderland statue is also a nice photo motif.
Among others, you can see Alice on a big mushroom, the white rabbit, the mad hatter and of course the grinning cat.
Address: E 74th Street, on the north shore of Conservatory Water
Hans Christian Andersen statue – Stories of childhood
The statue of Hans Christian Andersen was erected in 1956 for the 150th birthday of the Danish author. The large bronze statue shows Andersen on a bench with his book “The Ugly Duckling”. The little duck on the floor next to him is not ugly at all, but actually quite cute.
Especially for children a great attraction.
Address: E 74th Street, on the west bank of Conservatory Water
Balto Monument – The heroic husky
A bronze statue of the heroic Husky Balto was dedicated in Central Park. The history of the dog is also quite impressive: in 1925, diphtheria, a contagious infectious disease, broke out in the town of Nome in western Alaska. In order to deliver the antidote, the sled dog Balto covered almost 1,000 miles (1,609 km) with his dog team. He fought his way through ice, treacherous waters and even snowstorms. In recognition of this bravery, the famous sculptor Frederick George Richard Roth from Brooklyn was commissioned to create a lasting tribute to Balto and his team.
The statue has been in Central Park since 1925. Especially for the children, Balto is a highlight because they are allowed to climb on the dog and can be so close to the hero.
Address: E 67th Street
Strawberry Fields – The memorial for John Lennon
Even today, followers of John Lennon meet at the Imagine Mosaic to sing his songs together. The famous singer of the Beatles fell victim to an assassination attempt on the Dakota Building on December 8, 1980. Near the building, Yoko Ono designed the mosaic of black and white stones in Central Park, in the middle of which the song title of Lennon’s greatest hit “Imagine” can be read.
The memorial is named after his song “Strawberry Fields Forever”.
Address: Near 72nd Street on the west side of the park.