Central Park Guide: Top Places to Visit, Food, Activities & more
Find out the top places to visit in Central Park! The best things to do, must-see spots, activities, where to eat and more.
It should be on your to do list when you come to New York. For all ages!
Printable version: Brief List of Central Park Guide.
- Wear comfortable shoes (more info: what to wear in NY).
- Try to download a map on your phone (Google Maps offer this option!) so you don’t get lost.
- You might want to check out: Central Park with Kids.
The Most Famous Spots in Central Park
The park is pretty big, so make sure to visit the most famous and iconic spots first.
Strawberry Fields – John Lennon’s Memorial
Location: close to the Dakota Building (where John Lennon lived and was shot) at W 72nd St.
- Busy tourist spot. Everyone has a chance to take a photo with the Imagine Mosaic (a nice tribute to John Lennon).
- Most of the times you’ll see musicians playing songs from The Beatles, there’s a nice atmosphere and sometimes people sing the songs too!
Bethesda Terrace – Fountain
Location: in the middle of the park on 72nd St. Very popular spot.
- It gets crowded. If you wanna take photos without people behind you, going in the morning is better.
- The lake is right there, with people canoeing or paddle-boating. Beautiful especially in the spring and fall, as seen in many movies! The area to rent boats or canoes is nearby.
- You’ll usually see street performers and giant bubbles.
Cherry Hill Fountain
Location: on the west side of the Bethesda Fountain.
- A great spot to take a beautiful picture of Central Park with the lake and the skyline!
Location: it’s around the corner from the Bethesda Fountain.
- Beautiful pedestrian bridge with a romantic vibe and nice scenary.
- Great view of the bridge walking by the lake, from Cherry Hill to Bethesda Fountain.
Location: to or from Bethesda Terrace between 66-72nd Streets.
- Beautiful walkway leading to Bethesda Terrace with musicians, artists & street performers.
Location: from 66th & 69th Streets on the West.
Hours: Daily at 11am, May to mid-October (closed in winter).
Large open grassy field with nice views of some of the New York skyline.
- Perfect spot for a picnic in the spring/summer for locals and tourists.
- Good spot to go with kids.
- Things that you can do here: read, write, sunbath, fly a kite, play different games (frisbee, soccer, etc), relax, listen to music…
Tips: bring a blanket, sunscreen, you can buy food at the Whole Foods located in Columbus Circle, you’ll find a Le Pain Quotidien right there in the park (at the north side of the field) where you’ll also find restrooms.
The Pond & Gapstow Bridge
Location: in Central Park South (59th St.) between 5th & 6th Ave.
- Great spot to relax and escape from the city for a while. Beautiful lake surrounded by nature.
- Some locals take a lunch break at this place.
- Gapstow Bridge: beautiful spot for photos. Used in many movies and tv shows!
Activities in Central Park
Boating on The Lake
Location: Loeb Boathouse on the East Side between 74th & 75th Streets (close to the Bethesda Fountain).
Hours: April to November, daily at 10am-6:30pm (last boat rentals at 5:30pm). Weather permitting.
Types of Boats: Rowboats (up to 4 people), nine-foot Kayaks.
Fees: $15 first hour, additional $4 for every extra 15 minutes. $20 cash deposit required per boat that will be refunded after you return the boat. CASH ONLY!
Good for dates 😉
Central Park by Bike
You can use the Citi Bike. You can purchase a day pass for $12 and have unlimited 30-minute rides for 24 hours.
Rental Bike Kiosks at Central Park:
- At the entrance of Central Park in Columbus Circle (Broadway & 59th St.).
- The entrance of 5th Ave & 59th St.
- Close to the boat rentals in Mid-Park between 75th & 76th Streets.
Running in Central Park
- You’ll see many people running, walking, rollerblading in the main streets of the park.
- A great spot to run is around the reservoir (the big lake in Central Park located between 85th to 96th St. from East to West)
Foodie: Where to Eat in Central Park
INSIDE CENTRAL PARK
- Loeb Boathouse Restaurant, on the East Side of the Park between 74th & 75th Streets.
- Tavern on the Green, on Central Park West & 66th St.
- Le Pain Quotidien, on the West Side of the Park at 69th St.
- Food Trucks around the park (they are a bit expensive)
CLOSE TO CENTRAL PARK ENTRANCE AT 59TH ST
- Whole Foods located in the shopping of Columbus Circle on 59th St. & Broadway.
- Duane Reade Stores: good to buy drinks, snacks, ice cream.
Duane Reade Locations:
57th St. & Broadway
58th St. & 8th Ave
57th St. & Ave. of the Americas (6th Ave.)
- Maison Kayser (French bakery) and Grom (Italian gelatteria) on Broadway between 58th & 59th Streets.
Seasonal Things To Do
SummerStage: free outdoor art festival in the summer. Lots of top bands and emerging artists. To easily locate it, enter the park through 5th Ave. & 69th St. or 72nd St. More info.
Only in Winter. More info about the Top Ice Skating Rinks in NY and the one located in Central Park.
Central Park with Kids
All the info about Things to Do with Kids here.
Central Park Zoo
A small and nice zoo. Keep in mind that it’s a zoo inside the park, so it can’t be so big. It’s expensive considering what they offer.
Tickets: Adults $12, Child (3-12) $7, Free for 2 & under.
Week Day Hours: 10am-5pm (4:30pm last entry).
Weekends & Holidays: 10am-5:30pm (5:00pm last entry).
- Don’t go with high expectations.
- Bring food with you (the food there is expensive).
- Weekdays are less crowded than weekends.
- Bring some food (bread, some crackers) to feed some of the animals
Central Park Carousel
Location: Mid-Park at 65th St.
Fee: $3 per person per ride.
Hours (weather permitting): April-October: 10am-6pm daily. November-March: 10am-4:30pm only on weekends.
It goes fast for some kids. The one in Bryant Park is better 😉
Museums near Central Park
- American Museum of Natural History
- Children’s Museum of Manhattan
- Metropolitan Museum (MET)
- Guggenheim Museum
More info about When Are Museums Free.
More Places to Visit in Central Park
Jackqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir (biggest lake in the park)
- Located between 85th-96th Streets from East to West
- One of the favorite spot for runners! It’s good to go for a walk too, with wonderful views of NYC.
- Location: Mid-Park at 79th St. Opens daily 10am-5pm except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Closed on Mondays.
- It’s a CASTLE in Central Park that not too many people know about!
- Free admission, great spot for photos, great views!
- Nice little park located on the west side of Belvedere Castle
- Beautiful in the spring with all the flowers!
- Located in 5th Ave. between 104th & 106th Streets. Easily located entering through 5th & 106th St.
- Set up like a botanical garden. Beautiful in the spring, when the flowers are blooming.
- Clean bathrooms and water fountains available.
- Peaceful and quiet area, not too many tourists… and it’s free.