The heart and soul of Manhattan, Central Park is 843 acres (341 hectares) of green space featuring running paths, a boating lake, ponds, a zoo, fountains, statues, gardens, and a skating rink. New Yorkers and visitors alike have gathered at this National Historic Landmark year-round since 1857 to enjoy a respite from Manhattan’s concrete jungle.
Central Park has something for everyone. Visit Bethesda Fountain, the Strawberry Fields monument, or the Alice in Wonderland statue; enjoy kid-friendly fun on the carousel at the Central Park Zoo; sail model boats at the Conservatory Water pond; or simply enjoy people-watching at Bethesda Terrace or Sheep Meadow. The park’s size can be overwhelming, so consider a park bike tour, a walking tour, or a pedicab tour for a guided experience. Bike rentals are also available for those who prefer to explore on their own.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Several spots offer information about the park: the Dairy Visitor Center, Belvedere Castle, the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, the Chess & Checkers House, and the Columbus Circle information kiosk.
- No parking is available in the park, but parking garages are nearby.
- Wheelchairs can be used on many paths, but there are stairs around the park, so consider starting at an information center to pick up a map.
How to Get There
Central Park is bordered by 59th Street, Central Park West, 110th Street, and Fifth Avenue, making it reachable on foot from many Manhattan neighborhoods. Otherwise, hop off the subway at Columbus Circle or Fifth Avenue to enter the park from the south, where you can take a horse-drawn carriage ride to explore via a traditional form of transportation.
When to Get There
The park is open daily from 6am to 1am. It’s a can’t-miss attraction at any time of year, but to enjoy a classic New York City activity such as ice skating at Wollman Rink or watching a performance of Shakespeare in the Park, you’ll want to visit during the appropriate season (winter and summer, respectively).
Museums Surrounding Central Park
Many of New York City’s top museums lie just on the edges of Central Park, most notably on Manhattan’s famed Museum Mile, a stretch of Fifth Avenue that’s home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Cooper Hewitt, the Smithsonian Design Museum, the Jewish Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, and the Neue Galerie New York. On the other side of the park, you’ll find the American Museum of Natural History.