Central Park welcomes over 25 million visitors each year, a figure so impressive that it begs the question: just what are all these explorers doing during their stay? From waterfront dining to wildlife-spotting, here are 12 reasons to get lost in Central Park today.
It’s home to your favorite figures
Housing world-famous statues of Hans Christian Anderson, William Shakespeare, the figures of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and more, the park is home to a cast of historical and fictional characters. While visitors will see figures throughout the park, the Literary Walk, a stretch lined with statues of literary greats, such as the poet Robert Burns and novelist Sir Walter Scott, is an ideal destination for stumbling upon some familiar faces.
Test out your “sea legs” in the city
In this concrete jungle, aqua-based activities are few and far between. Central Park’s Loeb Boathouse gives locals the rare opportunity to take to the sea (or, in this case, the lake) with its water sports offerings. Rowing, kayaking, and more passive Venetian gondola rides are all available for a reasonable fee.
Feel like you’ve escaped New York City for a European garden
Experience scenes from across the Atlantic without leaving the city at the Conservatory Garden, a collection of authentic European-inspired gardens housed within the park. The six-acre area features three sections: the Italian garden, featuring lush, tiered hedges and a dramatic jet fountain; the French-style garden with its playful tulips and Three Dancing Maidens sculpture; and the charming English garden, complete with shrubs, trees, and perennial plants.
It boasts some of the city’s best people-watching
As it plays host to tourists, local children on field trips, pups with their owners, and more, the park is an unbeatable destination for self-proclaimed people-watchers. High-traffic areas such as the Great Lawn, Sheep Meadow, or any of the park’s bench-lined pathways make for a perfect place to watch the world go by.
It’s a great spot to celebrate the seasons year-round
One of the many perks of living in the city is the easy access to much-anticipated seasonal activities. From outdoor ice skating at Wollman Rink to sun-soaked model sailboat racing on the Model Boat Pond, Central Park is a year-round destination for seasonal fun.
Over 280 species of birds have been recorded as residents, regulars or rare visitors of Central Park since its creation in 1857. Birders from all over flock to the park to enjoy free guided birding tours and to secure a perch in the North Woods, the Ramble, and on Belvedere Castle’s viewing deck, all prime bird-watching vantage points.
Experience nature in New York City
Modeled after the Adirondack Mountains, the man-made, nature-inspired North Woods is an oasis for nature-loving New Yorkers. Comprising a waterfall, stream, and a thriving wildlife population, this woodland area delivers upstate adventure within the heart of New York City.
Enjoy free theater featuring world-famous plays and actors
Few things convey “summer in the city” more than Shakespeare in the Park, a beloved local tradition in which free productions of the Bard’s most well-known plays are offered up to the public. In the roughly 60 years since the festival began, screen legends including Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington, and Al Pacino have graced its stage. Central Park’s Delacorte Theatre doubles as both a venue and character in the productions, which are made all the more magical by the theater’s open-air design and breathtaking backdrop.
Feel like an on-screen icon as you walk the film-famous Mall
Appearing in over three hundred films and series, including Ghostbusters, Law & Order, and Sex and the City, Central Park is the most filmed location in screen history. Originally constructed to accommodate carriages of the park’s wealthier patrons, the frequently shot Mall is a long, wide pathway lined by great American elms, making for a dramatic sight. The abundance of trees makes this promenade a perfect spot to witness each of the four seasons’ charms (while posing for a camera, of course).
The view beats the one at your gym
On any given day, visitors can see cyclists, runners, yogis, and the occasional acrobatic troupe (really) breaking a sweat on the park’s grounds. They’re not the only ones—ballplayers regularly take advantage of the park’s numerous baseball fields, while the area’s abundant green spaces often play host to soccer and football games. At any time of the year, the park’s breathtaking scenery is enough to make your heart beat faster, the very definition of cardio.
Enjoy live musical performances
Any in-the-know New Yorker can tell you that Central Park is one of the city’s top music venues. Hosting performances by local legends such as the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera, indie icons, and the many talented street performers who set up shop in the area, Central Park’s entertainment offerings are something to sing about.
To enjoy one of Manhattan’s few waterfront dining experiences
You’re bound to work up an appetite exploring the park’s many offerings, which luckily for you, includes the lakeside restaurant at Loeb Boathouse. Stop in for brunch, lunch, or dinner of contemporary American cuisine served alongside picturesque views of the adjacent lake.
The Loeb Boathouse, E 72nd St, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 517 2233