Visiting Central Park in New York City

Central Park, one of the most famous parks in the world, first opened in 1859 and sprawls over 843 lush acres in the center of Manhattan. Central Park is surrounded by some of the most expensive and luxurious real estate in the city, especially along famed 5th Avenue, which borders the west side of the park.

Central Park is one of New York City’s most recognizable icons and has been featured in major Hollywood films—including Enchanted, When Harry Met Sally, and Serendipity.

Central Park is an oasis for nature enthusiasts. Bird watchers can spot up to 200 different types of birds. Runners, bicyclists, and skateboarders can enjoy Central Park’s 6 miles of pathways. This is especially true on the weekends after 7 p.m. when the park closes off access to automobiles and grants pedestrians exclusive access to the drives.

Central Park has something to offer everyone, even those who are not interested in typical “nature” activities. You might be interested in a horse drawn carriage ride around the park, or perhaps a pedicab ride that covers more of the park. Both options are terrific ways to take in as much of the park’s sights as you can. If you visit Central Park in the summer, you can catch one of the Public Theater’s free performances. In addition, the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic both give free performances on Central Park’s Great Lawn every year. If you are more interested in contemporary music, the Central Park Summerstage features musical concerts throughout the summer. In the past, acts as big as Elton John, Diana Ross, the David Mathews Band, and Bon Jovi have all performed at the Central Park Summerstage. Central Park concerts tend to be very popular and draw in huge crowds. In fact, the Garth Books concert in 1997 holds the world record for largest concert attendance.

Central Park offers plenty of activities to keep children busy. One of the most popular attractions for children is perhaps the Central Park Zoo. The zoo houses over 130 species of animals, including polar bears, bats, penguins, as well as tropical animals in the brilliant “rain forest” section. The zoo does a terrific job of replicating the natural environments of the animals—which is an amazing thing to experience while standing in the middle of New York City, right off 5th avenue!

If you visit New York in the winter, you should consider ice skating at the famous Wollman rink. During the summer, the Wollman Rink grounds hosts a fun, family-oriented Victorian themed carnival, complete with rides and games.

If you’re a Beatles fan, be sure to check out the Imagine mosaic at Strawberry Fields. It’s become a beautiful, picturesque memorial in honor of John Lennon.

The Bow Bridge is perhaps one of the most photographed icons of Central Park, but it also offers great views of Central Park and surrounding Manhattan! You can find Bow Bridge running across the lake from Cherry Hill to Ramble.

Creative Commons License Photo credit: Ed Yourdon