We are in the heart of Manhattan. Or maybe we should say in the lungs of Manhattan. Yes why Central Park, with its 341 green hectares and its length of 2,6 miles, it is one of the symbols of New York since the second half of the nineteenth century, when it was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux: a destination for anyone who wants to take a break from the hellish rhythms of the city, perhaps taking a walk or a bit of jogging, or for those who want to rest their eyes on a green expanse after seeing only skyscrapers and shopping malls for hours and hours.
The exterminated New York park it stretches, from south to north, from 59th St all the way to 110th St and, for tourists, is virtually impossible to get to visit in no time, there are many points of interest that it offers. If you are wondering how long it takes for visit Central Park, the answer may surprise you, especially if you are used to the idea of a "city park" that we have in Italy: we believe we are not exaggerating if we tell you that, to visit it all calmly, it would take at least two days. Obviously, if you don't have all this time, even a handful of hours may be enough, but be aware that you will only visit a very small part of the park.
If you prefer to rely on one guided tour I recommend you take a look at our guide to Central Park tours. If, on the other hand, you prefer a “do it yourself” visit, continue reading and let's see how to organize yourself to choose what to see in Central Park.
Note: Are you looking for an aerial tour that allows you to admire the full extent of Central Park from above? This NYC helicopter ride will give you a stunning aerial view of New York's immense green lung.
- How to get to Central Park
- Central Park what to see: a walk from south to north
- Heckscher Ballfields / Chess & Checkers House
- Sheep Meadows / The Mall
- Strawberry Fields / Bethesda Terrace
- The Ramble / Cedar Hill
- Great Lawn
- Reservoir / North Meadow
- Hotels near Central Park: where to sleep?
How to get to Central Park
There are so many ways to getting around in Central Park: you can do it in bus, the piediin carriagein bicycle or even in boat, you just need to get a good map in one of the many information centers scattered around the park.
But how do you get to the park if you are on the other side of New York? Here are the metro stops closest to the entrances.
- If you want to enter Central Park from southwest, you will have to reach Columbus Circle: lines A, B, C, D and 1 are fine;
- On the western side, you will find the B and C stops at these streets: 72nd St, 81st St, 86th St, 96th St, 103rd St and 110 St;
- On the eastern side, you will have to enter the south corner between 5th Ave and 59th St: you will find the stops of the N, R Q lines.
Central Park what to see: a walk from south to north
So exploring the park thoroughly would seem like a titanic undertaking, especially if you get there without knowing anything. There is no one way to set up a visit to Central Park, what to see you have to decide, but you have to start somewhere!
In this article we want to tell you our point of view on what to do in this immense expanse, what are some of the must-see attractions, so that your visit can be unforgettable and what New Yorkers call "people's park" can become yours too, at least for a short time.
To give you an example of how to visit the park, we have decided to do a kind of long one walk from south to north (because it is very likely that you are coming from the south), isolating the most interesting points to see, and describing them briefly. Each time, we will give you all the coordinates, so you can decide to directly reach the places that interest you by your means, public or otherwise.
Heckscher Ballfields / Chess & Checkers House
Already at the beginning of ours visit to central park, at 63rd St, we will be able to guess one of the main vocations of the place: sport! Physical activity reigns supreme in this green paradise, ea Heckscher Ballfields you could go to baseball and softball fields - sports with stars and stripes, needless to deny it - and enjoy a game of a derby championship, or book the field and play a game with some American friends, if you really want to be humiliated. Not far from the baseball fields, you could indulge in a game of chess or checkers at Chess & Checkers House, demonstrating that you too have a "mens sana in corpore sano".
Sheep Meadows / The Mall
Already at 66th St, you might decide to stop for a break: the green expanse of Sheep Meadows, once used for sheep grazing and now the scene of events and concerts, will welcome you for a pit stop. Not far away, just to the east, you will find the Literary Walk (dedicated to great writers not only American) and then, the area of The Mall, which offers an unmissable botanical peculiarity: the walk along the well-kept avenue of American elms.
Strawberry Fields / Bethesda Terrace
We are almost arrived at the plant Bethesda Terrace, one of the most famous areas of the park ever, and perhaps the most popular and immortalized in Hollywood films. But first, a moment of meditation: we are near 72nd St.
Here the lovers of Beatles they are ready to shed their bitter tears, because Strawberry Fields is a teardrop-shaped garden dedicated to the memory of John Lennon, who was murdered nearby in 1980. Stop and admire the mosaic of Imagine, and leave a flower, listening to the voice of some enthusiast in the area singing the hits of the Beatles.
Moving to the center of the park, then reach Bethesda Terrace, which is considered the heart of Central Park in New York. From here you can admire a splendid view of The Lake, the second largest lake in the park, or venture out on the shady paths near the Bow Bridge. Be careful, further east, near the 72nd, you will find Conservatory Water: look out for the statues of Alice in Wonderland!
The Ramble / Cedar Hill
The wood of The Ramble, area of the park loved by birdwatchers, it is truly a natural world in itself. You can take its ups and downs near 75th St, and immerse yourself in a shady oasis, following the flight of birds with your eyes, perfectly at ease among the trees of the forest.
Look for the most fascinating viewpoints, or relax near Oak Bridge, on a bench surrounded by greenery. You can decide whether to go to Cedar Hill, heading east, for a picnic on the grass of a hill near a grove, or head to another well-known area of Central Park: Great Lawn.
The area of Great Lawn, which extends for 55 hectares between 79th St and 85th St, is one of the most famous in Central Park, also for the artistic proposal, mostly musical, which it offers at certain times of the year: if you go in summer, you can attend a concert by the New York Philarmonic Orchestra, but this well-kept and scenic park has also hosted concerts by the likes of Simon and Garfunkel, Diana Ross, Paul Simon and Bon Jovi.
In the surroundings of this green area you will find it Shakespeare garden and Delacorte Theater, which hosts a festival dedicated to the great English writer; the extravagant Belvedere Castle, from whose tower the National Weather Service assessed the city's weather conditions; the ancient Obelisk, also called Cleopatra's Needle, dating back to 1877 and arrived in America as a gift from Egypt. Not far away, you will see the Metropolitan Museum of Art, whose entrance is from 5th Ave at the corner of 81st St or from 5th Ave at the corner of 82nd St.
Reservoir / North Meadow
Our long walk is coming to an end but, once you reach 86th St, you will find yourself in front of the immense expanse of water of the artificial basin Reservoir. Around this lake, once capable of distributing drinking water to the city, you can take a long walk and watch the throngs of New Yorkers jogging or cycling, or sit at sunset and observe the chromatic effects of the light on the water. .
From 97th St to 110th St, the area of North Meadow, mostly dedicated to team sports, just like Heckscher Ballfields: baseball and softball fields that are also the stage for football matches.
But even in this area, nature carries out its act of resistance to the city: you can reach the gentle natural waterfalls of The Loch e the Ravine (between 103rd and 106th), get lost in the elegant European-style gardens of Conservatory Garden or isolate yourself for a picnic a Great Hill, before returning to the streets of New York.
Hotels near Central Park: where to sleep?
Staying in a hotel directly overlooking Central Park is a fascinating experience. Not only the beauty, but also the proximity to some of New York's major museums and the convenience of services, which easily connect this area to the rest of the city. To find accommodation in the area, we recommend that you take a look at the in-depth information on where to sleep in New York - Central Park, and read our tips on New York vacation rentals, featuring some interesting vacation rentals near Central Park.
In conclusion, if you manage to organize your walk well among the many things to see in Central Park, you can tell that you have visited a "natural metropolis" within New York: a cure-all for the lungs, but also and above all for the eyes and the spirit.