There are many reasons to visit Central Park but the foremost of them would be the fact that it is the best-known park in the whole world. It is quite evident that many parks in New York charge to enjoy the attractions but park-goers would love to know that many things to do in central park are free.
Like Newyork city has a variety of toy stores to explore, it also welcomes visitors of all ages to some of the loveliest things to do in Central Park. An elderly couple would love a walk around Central Park, or a couple of honeymooners visiting Central Park can enjoy a romantic interlude on one of the carriage rides.
Kids would love to visit the Central Park zoo or have a wonderful evening at the playground. Everyone will have some of the other fun things to do at Central Park.
Central Park with its lush green meadows, beautiful fountains, walking paths lined with lovely trees also plays host to many concerts throughout the year. This fifth largest park in New York City truly has much to offer and tourists or locals keep coming back to experience more things to do in central park.
So with an endless list of things to do in central park, it is quite impossible to cover everything on a single given day. But it is possible to enjoy another day at Central Park all over again.
The Top Attractions at Central Park
Tour Central Park on Horse Carriage rides, rent a bike, join a walking tour, or ride a Pedicab around the park.
Ice skating on Wollman Rink – One of the most popular things to do in Central Park.
Ride the famous Carousel.
Be terrified of the Sharks at the American Museum of Natural history.
Have a trip down memory lane by remembering the iconic Beatle, and John Lennon at the Strawberry fields.
Enjoy the panoramic views of the famous landmarks of Central Park at Belvedere Castle.
There can never be a dull moment at Central park and visitors to the park are constantly pampered to many attractions every day.
10 Fun Things to do in Central Park
1. Visit The Belvedere Castle Atop Vista Rock
The Belvedere Castle was designed and built to enhance the beauty of Central Park. It is the second-highest point at Central Park and sits on top of the Vista Rock. It serves as a lovely backdrop and as a stunning attraction in Central Park.
The Italian name ‘Belvedere castle’ implies ‘beautiful view’ and park-goers are in for a lovely treat to their eyes as it provides some of the best panoramic views of New york city.
The best things to do in Central Park is to watch breathtaking views and enjoy the cool breeze on top of the Castle.
Have a great time viewing the lovely collection of artefacts of natural history, well-preserved skeletons, and stuffed paper mache birds inside the Belvedere Castle.
Visitors to the Belvedere castle also have an opportunity to view organisms under microscopes similar to the ones used by naturalists around the world.
A bird-lover would love to know that the Belvedere castle is an ideal location to view the Hawk or a Kestrel. Another one of the best things to do in Central Park is to participate in the community programs held at the Belvedere Castle that include talks on astronomy, storytelling event, or experiencing a haunted castle event on a Halloween night.
The Turtle Pond can be found at the base of the Castle. Since the 1980s, the turtle owners released them onto the Pond, they have resided along with the numerous species of frogs, fishes, and dragonflies.
The Central park conservancy renovated the man-made pond in the year 1998 by giving it natural surroundings. Trees and shrubs were planted around the pond to give it an improved look.
One of the best things to do in Central Park as a designated quiet zone is to have a peaceful time to escape the stressful commotion of the city.
2. Take the Kids for a Fun Outing at Central Park Zoo
Manhattan’s pride is the Central Park Zoo where children and grown-ups can experience the splendour of wildlife at its very best and natural habitat. The best things to do in Central Park is to take a fun outing at the Zoo and enjoy a lovely time with the kids.
The main feature of the Central Park Zoo is the Sea lions. The larger animals at the Central Park zoo were placed in regular menagerie cages, but during its renovation in the year 1980, the animals were placed in natural surroundings.
The Central Park Zoo has over 130 species of animals and birds. This iconic Zoo in New York City is nearly 5 acres long and houses a variety of habitats. All of which have been carefully recreated to the animals’ natural habitat and surroundings.
Top Attractions At the Central Park Zoo
Grizzly bears, like Betty and Veronica.
River Summit and Malala are the twin snow leopards. They were both born at the Central Park Zoo.
California Sea lions, like April, Charlotte, and Margaretta.
Four types of Penguins- King, Gentoo, Rockhopper, and Chinstraps Penguins.
Amaya and Biru are the red pandas, housed at the Temperate Zone.
A Wide Variety of Birds including African Pygmy, Bali mynahs, Emerald starlings, and much more exotic collection is found at the Central Park Zoo.
One interesting fun fact about the Central Park Zoo is that the Zoo was founded by an accident. Some of the New Yorkers started to drop off animals that could not be taken care of and soon the Parks Commissioner Robert Moses started to work on the construction of the Zoo.
After the renovation in the year 1980, New York City entered into an agreement with the Central Park conservancy for further upkeep and maintenance of the Central Park Zoo.
Central Park’s very own Zoo is now the star attraction in New York city sights. With its exquisite outdoor and indoor exhibits, a fun ride on a horse or simply watching the zookeepers feeding the animals would awaken the inner child in every visitor to the Central Park Zoo.
The Ramble is a 36-acre wooded area in Central Park that is most visited by bird-lovers hoping to watch the birds stopping on the way to migration south of the country.
One of the best things to do in Central Park for those interested in sharpening their knowledge of birds is to attend a weekend bird-basic workshop held in the spring season.
3. Visit The Specially Built Memorial for John Lennon at Strawberry Fields
Strawberry fields, a memorial for the famous Beatle, John Lennon is a vast 2.5-acre area at Central Park. A singer, musician, songwriter, and peace activist, John Lennon was tragically murdered near the Dakota apartments adjacent to the Central Park area.
The memorial was named after the popular Beatles’ Song, ‘Strawberry fields’ forever and was mainly built to pay homage to Lennon’s life, talents, and memory.
Garden of Peace
The memorial features a black and white Imagine mosaic designed exclusively by Italian artists. The ‘Imagine mosaic’ is named after Lennon’s famous song ‘Imagine’ that envisages a world filled with hope, without strife and war.
Strawberry Fields is known as the ‘Garden of Peace’ and the area in Central Park is lined with beautiful tall American elm trees, shrubs, flowers, and rocks. It is a designated quiet zone.
Fans from all over the world visit Strawberry fields each year to commemorate the birth and death of the famous Beatle.
4. Relax at the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain
Termed as an architectural marvel, the Bethesda Terrace is one of the first buildings to come up in Central Park. The construction of the building began in 1859 was completed in the year 1863.
Architects, Frederick Law, and Calvert Vaux decided that Bethesda Terrace should be known as the ‘heart of the park’ and were determined to keep nature first.
True to their word, the place resonates calmness, and people come here to completely forget their troubles and have a stress-free evening.
There is an upper and lower terrace with grand staircases, one of which leads directly to The Mall. The structure is paved with beautiful Brunswick sandstone and Roman brick. The granite steps of the terrace are simply glorious.
The spectacular views of the New York skyline on the terrace are breathtaking and majestic. The Bethesda fountain can be seen after visitors move down from the lower terrace.
The twenty-six feet high Bethesda Fountain is a lovely monument that is the focal point of the Bethesda Terrace. One of the most visited places in the city, the fountain is also the only sculpture commissioned exclusively to be a part of Central Park.
The name “Bethesda” refers to the name of the pool mentioned in the Gospel of John. The sculpture, Angel of Waters- an eight-foot-high bronze angel, symbolizes the inauguration of the Croton Aqueduct that supplied fresh water to the city.
One can enjoy a relaxing afternoon watching the picturesque setting of the mature trees of the upper east side or stand above the Arcade and have a lovely view of the Bethesda Fountain.
You can also take a Horse Carriage tour or a walking tour around the Central park west side or simply sit on the great lawn and do some people-watching.
The Bethesda Arcade
Linking the Mall to the Bethesda fountain and the Central Park lake is the lovely arched interior walkway known as the Bethesda Arcade.
The Arcade is intricately designed with more than 15000 colourful, and patterned tiles from England. The colourful tiles look stunning on the ceiling of the Arcade.
5. Pay a Visit to The Conservatory Garden
It is the only formal garden at the Conservatory garden, a calm and serene place free from cyclists or skateboarders. It is situated in a quiet area of the park and is filled with trees and shrubs.
It is a delightful six-acre area that is absolutely blissful with calm surroundings. The Conservatory garden features three dancing maidens, a bronze fountain by Walter Scott, and is subdivided into three different garden styles- French, Italian, and English.
The Conservatory Water is a model boat pond for children and adults who want to playfully indulge in a boat race. The model sailboats are charming on this urban oasis and visitors to Central Park would certainly be engrossed watching them race.
At the north end of the Conservatory is the giant statue of Alice in Wonderland and the upper west side features the sculpture of Hans Christian Anderson reading his famous children’s tale ‘The Ugly Duckling.’
During the winter season, the pond becomes an ice skating rink due to the frozen water. Many would-be thrilled to know that Conservatory Water is the lovely setting that was featured in the 1999 film adaptation of ‘Stuart Little.’
6. Go for a Boat Ride at The Loeb Boathouse
Enjoy a lovely boat ride by hiring a romantic rowboat down by the Loeb Boathouse or have an awesome dining experience at the Boathouse Restaurant. Both of which can be found at the red brick and limestone Loeb Boathouse.
Built to last in the year 1954, the Loeb boathouse is a lovely seating area that captures some of the best views of the lake. The beauty of Central Park can be seen while enjoying a relaxing afternoon at the Loeb boathouse.
Things to do in Loeb Boathouse
Take a nice walk around the Lake.
The Bethesda tree walks to admire Central Park’s lovely trees.
Adventure out by renting a boat on the Lake.
7. Take a Walk with Some of the Most Famous Writers at The Mall
The Mall was once a place for the wealthy New Yorkers to arrive in style on beautiful horse-driven carriages and take a leisurely stroll down the road lined with the enchanting American elm trees.
Now it is a wonderful place to see talented young artists perform their very best and entertain visitors to Central Park in the most delightful manner.
Watch the street performers do an eccentric activity or better grab a seat and enjoy a lovely evening looking at young and old faces gleaming with delight.
Various Things to do in Central Park at The Mall
Leave the worries of the city behind, take a slow walk down the Mall and take in a breath of fresh air under lovely elm trees.
Watch skateboarders performing spellbinding tricks splendidly.
Get closer to the magnificent literary giants such as William Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott, and Fitz Greene by taking the iconic literary walk.
8. Enjoy the Central Park Tradition by Riding the Central Park Carousel
A Merry-go-around that over 250000 people hop on for a fun ride every year is the famous Carousel at Central Park.
Since 1871, the Carousel has been the favourite attraction of the park-goers of Central Park. Initially, it was not received warmly by the park commissioners. However, due to the overwhelming response to the Carousel by the visitors, it was allowed to function at the premises of Central Park.
The first two Carousels at Central park were destroyed due to fire and the present one is running since 1950. The 57-hand-crafted horses and two most beautifully decorated chariots of the largest Carousel in the US are over 100 years old.
While waiting to ride on this marvellous ride, enjoy popcorn or hot dogs and get ready for a thrill of a lifetime.
9. Stroll in The Metropolitan Museum
The world-famous Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is also the city’s largest museum. The museum is home to over 36000 historical pieces that span over 5000 years.
Visitors will be enthralled to see the famous collections in the Egyptian exhibit, medieval art based on Christian history, and a lovely gallery exclusively for musical instruments.
Walking along the fifth avenue on the upper east side, visitors can encounter the Obelisk or the Cleopatra’s Needle, an ancient monument built in the year 1450 that stands as a scenic landmark in Central Park since 1974.
10. Have a Picnic on The Sheep Meadow and Play a Game on the North Meadow
The Sheep Meadow is a large 15-acre field. During the summer months, there are over 30000 people here on any given day. It was once a place to graze sheep and hence got the name ‘Sheep meadow.’ However, the sheep were moved to Prospect park during the great depression.
Now it has transformed into a Great lawn and Prospect park has turned into a lovely restaurant. New Yorkers come to the Sheep Meadow to enjoy a day of sunbathing, kiteflying, or to have some fun playing frisbee.
Some just throw in a picnic blanket and enjoy a picnic on the Sheep meadow. The sand courts available at the east side of the Meadow is a lovely place to play beach volleyball.
Host to twelve large fields mainly for baseball, softball, and soccer in the spring and summer months. It is a vast area and has some of the best things to do in Central Park. Just come to North Meadow to relax, have a picnic, or just a walk.
The main reason for the Central Park Conservancy to accommodate a large field such as this one is to provide a balance to the landscape and also to encourage sports activity. Other sports fields at Central Park can be found on the Great Lawn and the Heckscher Ballfields.
11. Catch The Cherry Blossom Trees
The petals fall, making a beautiful bed of pink and white blanket on the ground:
The best things to do in Central Park is to watch the Yoshino Cherry Trees at the east side and west side reservoir, Cherry Hill, or at the Pilgrim Hill, the Kwanzan Cherry Trees at the Cedar Hill, Great lawn, or The Glade, or take a Cherry Blossom Tree tour around the park.
12. Watch Performances at Delacorte Theatre
A free-to-watch theatre performance here at Delacorte Theatre is one of the most wanted things to do in Central Park. It is especially known for the Shakespeare in the Park and is considered a lovable summer tradition of New York.
An open-air Delacorte Theatre is having 800 sitting capacities and over 100000 people visit it every year.
13. Click Pictures in Shakespeare Garden
An enchanting Shakespeare Garden is a four-acre area that is planted with trees, shrubs, and flowers. Once in the garden, the visitors cannot but reminisce the wonderful plays and poems written by the literary genius.
The garden is filled with lovely bronze plaques of quotes about the plants and the flowers by William Shakespeare. Some of the most wonderful things to do in Central Park are to have quiet walks and beautiful weddings at the Shakespeare Garden.
14. Have Fun with the Kids at The Billy Johnson Playground
The Billy Johnson Playground is a lovely play space that is interestingly designed that resembles the landscape of the Park. The architect, Paul Friedberg believed that the playground should resound the design and experience that is essentially a part of Central Park.
So don’t be surprised if there is a mini version of the Gapstow Bridge and two granite slopes that are 45 feet long so that kids feel as though they are sliding down Central Park’s rock.
Things to do in Billy Johnson Playground
Kids can enjoy half-hour of racing up the log maze and come sliding down through the huge granite slide.
Toddlers will have a great time at the Sandbox Play.
Have fun with the little ones at the Water Playground. Kids would love jumping up and down at the spray fountains.
15. Explore The Bow Bridge
If you are looking for the most picturesque setting in Central Park, then Bow bridge is the place. The stunning location is the perfect spot for a wedding proposal or to view the glorious New York skyline.
One of the best things to do in Central Park is to have a slow walk up the Bow Bridge and watch the water under the bridge float by quietly.
Bow Bridge is considered the perfect meeting spot for a romantic interlude. It is featured as a lovely backdrop in many well-known Hollywood films such as ‘Manhattan’ and ‘The Way We Were.’
16. Plan a Visit to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir
The Central Park Reservoir is also known as the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. It was named after former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as she used to jog here regularly and for her tireless contribution to the city.
The reservoir is surrounded by a 1.58-mile track that is frequented by enthusiastic runners and walkers looking to enjoy the scenery.
So the next time you are wondering about some things to do in Central Park, do remember that the reservoir is the best place for a jog or a wonderful walk.
The Central park stands where the Seneca village belonging to African American landowners stood. It was then occupied by Irish and German settlers who were asked to leave during the construction of the Park.
A Message to Take Away
It has come a long way from a humble village community to one of the best places to see in New York. There are a number of wonderful things to do in central park with family or with friends.
The Park is surrounded by natural beauty, historical monuments, and a host of activities to do and enjoy. Many feel that Central Park offers visitors a brand new experience each time they visit this wonderful location because there are many things to do in Central Park.