Manhattan can, famously, feel like endless rows of apartment blocks and office towers for most of its length. At least above 14th Street, a regular grid of streets and avenues, bisected only by Broadway, has transformed the city into a dream for real estate developers. The green spaces interrupting the pattern—Union Square, Gramercy Park, Madison Square Park—are few and far between, with one enormous exception: Central Park. Running from 59th Street to 110th Street, and between Central Park West (Eighth Avenue) and Fifth Avenue, it is one of the world’s largest urban parks, measuring some 843 acres. It is the masterpiece of the 19th-century landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted working in collaboration with Calvert Vaux. Inside its borders are stately allées and naturalistic scenes, ice-skating rinks (in the winter), an enormous reservoir, and a faux castle. The park is hugely popular, and so to call it an escape from the bustle of the city is often not accurate, especially on mild summer days and the first warm ones in the spring when thousands of residents head to its playing fields, bike and run along the road that loops the park, and enjoy picnics on the Sheep Meadow or one of its other lawns.

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The 5 Best Things to Do in Central Park

Of all the fantastic things to get excited about and partake in, in New York City, Central Park is an entire world on its own. From butterflies, to rowing, to live bands and wish making fountains, if you’re visiting New York City, you’re definitely going to have to visit Central Park. Make sure you have a day or more set aside for this incredible experience. We have picked out our top favorite things to do in Central Park, but rest assured you will find even more exciting things in between as well on your journey!

It’s the location of the Central Park weather station, but this hybrid of Gothic and Romanesque style architecture is one of the park’s main attractions. The word, ‘Belvedere’ means ‘beautiful view’ and that is exactly what the castle provides. Taking photographs with the Belvedere Castle as your backdrop is breathtaking to say the least, and learning about its incredibly rich history is something out of a story book. The castle is open from 10:00am to 5:00pm daily except on Thanksgiving.

Completely free large-scale productions that will keep you glued to your seat! There is nothing like the experience of open air theatre. The acoustics are perfect and there is no difficulty hearing or seeing the marvels in front of you. If you are thinking side street show, don’t be so sure, as actors have included Kevin Kline, Denzel Washington, and Meryl Streep to name but a few. The theatre is brilliant in the day but even more exhilarating at night.

Lasker Pool, an incredibly beautiful site which overlooks the Harlem Meer where you can go fishing for free (just make sure to let your catch go), is a pool in the summer and an ice-skating rink in the winter. There are places to lock your bikes and lockers as well. It’s always busy and there is no shortage of friends to be made and sports to be played.

Basking in the son should be done in Sheep Meadow. The meadow is not a reference to the new age term of people that follow each other being sheep, it in fact did contain only sheep at one stage. However, as the years went by people of all colors, creeds and peculiar hobbies found themselves showing off on the meadow and flocking together to enjoy a bit of sunshine!

If you going to do Central Park, then you may as well do it in style! is only a block away and their competitive pricing makes them the wheels to choose. Experience the entire 843 acres or 2.5 miles long and half a mile wide Central Park without really breaking a sweat. A bike is far more fun than traveling on foot, and whilst everyone else is huffing their two feet you can whizz by on your two fancy wheels! Make sure to stop over and grab a bite to eat. Can you think of any more fun things to do in Central Park? Let us know in the comments.

Manhattan's Green Oasis

Just a block and a half from Loews Regency sits New York’s landscaped wonder and one of the greatest urban parks in the world, Central Park. Stretching between 59th and 110th Streets and Fifth and Eighth Avenues, the park covers a total of 843 acres. The plan for the park was first approved in 1853, in 1857 Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s plan was selected in the country’s first landscape design contest, and in 1859 the park opened to the public. It was an immediate success—by 1865 the park was already welcoming some 7 million visitors each year. Today, within the park you’ll find a zoo, two skating rinks, the much photographed Bethesda Fountain, and thousands of New Yorkers, picnicking, biking, strolling and otherwise enjoying one of the city’s most famous, and most utilized, landmarks.

Iconic Central Park

Pounding the pavement in Manhattan can leave even the slickest city dwellers needing a break, and Central Park gives its visitors a perfect green space to enjoy. Its activities are endless, from ice-skating in the winter to seeing plays by the Bard at Shakespeare in the Park in the summer. People watching on a walk is entertainment enough, but sailing model boats on Conservatory Water and dining at Tavern on the Green or The Boathouse are just a few ways to enjoy yourself in the park. In warm weather, I love to sit out on The Great Lawn or Sheep’s Meadow to soak up sun. Central Park’s 6-mile loop is one of my favorite running routes and gives you the option to see the park’s many different terrains and beautiful destinations. Photo by Doug Kerr/Flickr.

A Word to Live By

John Lennon’s timeless lyrics may hold even more meaning today than when he originally penned them: ‘You, you may say, I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one, I hope some day you’ll join us, And the world will be as one.’ He gave us all words to live by, and it challenges us to make the world a better place. Imagine if we all did that?

Central Park at Columbus Circle--73 Degrees

An amazing time to be in the park is when the weather starts getting warm. People watch, exercise, read a book, or sit on a rock and stare at buildings. Central Park is a place unlike any other.

Boat Tripping

Central Park really is its own little bubble of calm. Watching row boats glide across the water at dusk, I forgot the city around me. While I enjoyed watching, I now wish I had taken up an oar and joined in. Next time I will for sure, and so should you.

XXskiing in Central Park

They rent skis close to Central Park South. If you ever have the chance, this is a most magical experience. And if it snows enough, you can glide your way though Times Square!

A Special Spot in Central Park

There’s a magical place in Central Park called the Mall, or, more specifically, the Literary Walk—a wide gravel path lined with huge shade trees that gracefully drape over the walk and the benches that dot both sides. About half way down on the right side is a bench that looks much like the others. That is, until you walk up to it and read the memorial plaque. It’s to Jim Henson, creator of many of my childhood loves (most notably: the Muppets). His bench looks no different than the others, the memorial plaque looks no different than the hundreds of others that dot the park. Yet his name means so much to so many people. I noticed this plaque about three years ago for the first time and now I’m immediately drawn to it every time I’m in the park. I’ve told some people about it, but it still feels like my secret, special spot in Central Park. The Literary Walk is located on the south end of The Mall section of the park. It can be found mid-park from 66th to 72nd Streets.

Central Park Picnic

Central Park has its share of scenic picnic spots, but on a beautiful day it can be crowded. Most tourists and locals tend to gravitate to Sheep Meadow, a 15-acre expanse of lush green grass. There is another beautiful open area just south of Sheep Meadow and north of the Heckscher softball fields. This prime picnic spot is shaded by drooping willow trees and is framed by the Central Park South skyline, which includes the iconic Plaza Hotel. There is also good people-watching here - sunbathers, softball players, and runners. This field’s location is very convenient, with bathrooms, food/drink vendors and subways nearby.

Poetry in Motion

Life in NYC is never dull! It is vibrant, exciting and every day is an event, and I absolutely fell in love THE city from the first moment I step foot in it. Human interactions and emotions are in your face and displayed in the open for anyone who care to observe them. People from all walks of life from all over world interact and sometimes clash as naturally as breathing air, and in the city of over 8 million, people move about as if they’re engaged in a dance, which only the natives of the city know. Most of all, it’s a city that enables you to experience the world … or at least a great introduction to it … and gives you an opportunity to meet amazing people under the most extraordinary circumstances. It’s a city that allows you to experience life that’s far more exciting than any story that Hollywood could conjure up.

Falling in Love with Central Park

I must confess: I’m in love with NYC. My love grows even stronger in the fall. I always tell Paul that if we accidentally fall into a goldmine, I want a place in NYC…I want the steps, the flowers on the stoop, and my favorite market down the street. Then Paul reminds me we’ve actually fallen face first in a money pit thanks to the precious gift of inheritance. It is then, all at once, that I am suddenly jolted back to reality. Not that a NYC pad was even close to feasible before I inherited my little house on the prairie… But a girl can dream right? Lucky for us, we live just a short train ride away from the big city lights. I used to think being born a Jersey Girl was a sweet little blessing in disguise. Now, I know for sure it was. The older I get the more I realize that having access to the beach, the city, and good pizza is truly something that should never be taken for granted. Never.

A walk in Central Park

Picture Perfect!! After a week of rain and gloomy dark clouds that shadowed NYC, a walk in Central park on a bright sunny day feels like a rainbow.

The world according to Lennon.

My time spent in NYC was a bit of a blur. The city and I didn’t exactly see eye to eye, I must admit. The day of John Lennon’s 70th birthday, I finally understood why people, including Lennon fall in love with NYC. He inspired many, including this young fan who watched with eager eyes as Central Park came alive with his music.

Central Perfection.

Central Park provides the perfect collection of nature, culture and people. You simply can’t go wrong in Manhattan, and Central Park is proof yet again. Especially in summer.

Central Perfection. [2]

Sitting at a cafe table in Manhattan’s Central Park, one is overcome by the surrounding beauty. It’s everywhere.

Central Perfection. [3]

Sometimes you have to get down to ground-level to see “eye-to-eye” with the hidden beauty in America’s biggest cities. So I did just that. Central Park has plenty to share. It seems like there are many microcosms in New York, but none moreso than this: that even in the “concrete jungle” of stepping stones in Central Park, life still grows and blossoms. And there is evidence of *that* all over the city.

Unexpected Art

Took this snapshot entering Central Park. I just though this was an interesting carving since it seems more southwestern design then the typical sleek lines seen in NYC.

Autumn in the city

Living on the West Coast is great, but I always miss the change in seasons. A stroll through Central Park is an absolute must in the month of October, to catch the autumn scents and crunchy leaves and pause from the big-city madness.

Wedding Party Waldo

A large wedding party was getting pictures taken in the park (the Park). The bride and company were well separated from the groom and his entourage and this panorama makes finding them all a Where’s Waldo-like puzzle.

Ice Skating in Central Park

The air was crisp and the anticipation of the first snowfall was palpable. Walking through Central Park in the winter is already a storybook like experience, but to happen upon a scene as classic as this was perfection. Wollman rink has been in operation since 1949 and is situated just off of West drive near the Columbus circle entrance. The view of the towering skyline is awe inspiring as you gracefully glide or sheepishly slide across the ice. The intoxicating aroma of cinnamon roasted almonds and peanuts wafts welcomingly as you make laps around the pond. And vendors near the rink are there at the ready for when you decide to don your skate-less shoes and journey through the park once again.

Christmas in Central Park

After a long and indulgent Christmas lunch, my husband and I took to the ice skating rink in Central Park. Neither of us had been ice skating before and it made for not only an unforgettable but funny experience. To be on the other side of the world on Christmas night, skating at Central Park is something we will never forget.

A Marriage on a Bridge in Central Park

I was in Central Park this morning working on a chapter on birdwatching for Manhattan Before8, and I happened across this couple getting married on Bow Bridge. There were no family or friends to speak of, just the two of them, utterly content in their moment with each other. The morning had provided them a fleeting moment of privacy, although, as you can see by the gentleman behind them, private moments are hard to come by in a location that sees 40 million visitors a year. Fortunately, they didn’t seem to notice us.

Birdwatching in Central Park

The New York Audubon Society offers free and paid birdwatching adventures through Central Park and around New York. These walks are incredible. As a novice birdwatcher, I was completely out of my element, but the guide and my fellow birders (many of whom have been birtwatching for 20+ years) never let me fall behind. The details you notice when you are with an experienced group are amazing, and I would have been completely lost without them. It’s a wonderful way to spend a morning in Central Park if you’re curious about the hundreds of different species of animals living around you. One tip - ask the Audubon Society to bring you a pair of binoculars when you sign up. They have them available free for rent, and they are essential for spotting some of the trickier birds.

An Exclusive Bike Race in Central Park

Did you know that your own personal Tour de France is waiting for you in Central Park? Professional bike riders gather Saturday mornings at 6 AM for races around the Drives, and they are unreal to watch. The speed and energy of bike racing is not done justice on TV, but when you’re sitting five feet away from 100 bikes traveling at 30 MPH, it’s breathtaking. The CRCA puts these races on, so check for a complete racing schedule, and check out for more early morning adventures.

New York

Central Park in New York is a beautiful place for jogging, or just walking and enjoying the view.

Posing at Central Park's Sheep Meadow

Summer in New York. My friend who’s based in Manhattan toured me around Central Park. Since I was staying in his divine place, I challenged him to bring me to places I have never been in New York yet. He brought me to Sheep Meadow in Central Park. Oh well, I needed to find that perfect place to lie down and pose for that coveted shot....and then we jogged and had brunch as Sarabeth’s.

Autumn in New York

What is there to say about New York that hasn’t been said already? It’s a frenetic, bustling place with infectious energy making it the perfect place to end our west coast to east coast road trip. Our day of exploring included window shopping on 5th Avenue, wandering the High Line, and a walk through Central Park.

Chess, Please.

Hidden in a circular pergola of sorts in Central Park is the gorgeous Chess & Checkers House. Chess enthusiasts, or those just wanting to dabble in the testing sport of the mind, can borrow pieces from the staff or bring their own tried-and-trusted bishops and pawns. There’s shade, good conversation, and fantastic views of the park. For a perfect, slow, summer evening, the Chess & Checkers House is the place to be. Check mate.

Hidden Gem in Central Park

Stepping out of the MET, the rain had slowed to just a mist and we began to make our way through Central Park. We eventually came upon the Bethesda Fountain and turned around to find this beautiful arcade, tucked away just behind us.

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