Bethesda Terrace And Fountain
The formal terrace was considered the heart of the park by the designers.
The central feature is the famous Bethesda Fountain with its Angel of the Waters statue. This statue is the only statue in the park that was specifically commissioned for the park.
The terrace and fountain get their names from the Gospel of John, where a pool called Bethesda with healing waters is referenced.
This was all dedicated in honor of the Croton Aqueduct System, the water supply system that gives New York its drinking water today.
The creation of the aqueduct was a huge leap forward in New Yorks development and it greatly reduced disease in the city and also helped decrease the number of fires in New York.
In the statue, the angel has her hand out, blessing the water for New York. The lily on her other hand represents the purity of the water.
This area is seen in dozens of films and TV shows, including Law and Order, Sex and the City, Enchanted, and Elf.
Fans of the Avengers will recognize the Terrace as the scene where they all depart from one another.
Just beyond the fountain, you cannot miss the very big and bucolic lake.
Best Things To Do In Central Park
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Take a romantic paddle around the Lake or let someone else do the work during a Venetian gondola ride at Loeb Boathouse . While you’re there, absorb the picturesque view of the Lake at the Central Park Boathouse Restaurant, for fineif priceyfare like fish, crab cakes, salads and an assortment of wines.
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Animal lovers will dig the cute critters at the Tisch Children’s Zoo, adjacent to the main zoo, where you can also get up close and personal with pot-bellied pigs and goats. In the Central Park Zoo itself, coo over the daily feeding of the sea lions and penguins, and watch snow monkeys leap playfully between rocks.
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Thirty-six acres of winding trails, rocks and streams remain here, seemingly waiting to be discovered. It’s also the city’s primo bird-watching spot, where you can view many of the park’s 230 species. Fun fact: Everything you see is man-made, dating back to 1859even the waterfalls can be turned on and off.
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Sporting Activities And Leisure
Made up of 6 separate baseball and softball fields, the Heckscher Ballfields are located at 63rd Street in Central Park, just west of the Carousel. Nothing could make you feel more like a native New Yorker than a game or 2 on these hallowed grounds, and anyone can play provided they purchase a permit and book an $8 session.
It is also popular with younger visitors and their coaches, as leagues with children 17 and under are allowed to play for free.
As the oldest and largest playground in the park, the Heckscher Playground offers almost 2 whole acres of slides, swings, and seesaws, as well as a water fixture and giant rocks for climbing.
Running from 61st to 63rd Street, the park has been added to over the years to offer separate areas for younger and older children as well as plenty of shaded spaces and synthetic turf and safety surfacing.
The playground is open daily from 7.30 a.m. until dusk.
The Lasker Ice Rink is just one of 2 iconic ice rinks that can be found in Central Park during the winter. Visitors can enjoy ice skating, adult and youth hockey games and lessons, skate rentals and lockers. It is also possible to have group skating lessons, and even children parties held here.
The ice rink is open from late October to mid-March, weather permitting. Opening hours can vary so it is best to check their website.
It is open every day from 6:30 a.m. until dusk.
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Central Park Ny Hotels
These are NYC Insider hand picked hotels that are not just “near” Central Park, as most NYC hotels claim to be…but on the Park itself, either Central Park South, Central Park West or Fifth Ave. Many other hotels are nearby, or within a few blocks, but these are the closest, and all offer Park views from select rooms.
Some of our top value picks near Central Park include:
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Ride The Central Park Carousel
TripSavvy / Brakethrough Media
Central Park has had a carousel since 1871 when it was powered by a horse and mule. It is said that the live mule or a horse was hidden beneath the carousel and would stop and start when the operator tapped on the wooden floor. Today’s carousel has been there since 1950 and was originally built for a trolley terminal outside of Coney Island, before being moved to Central Park.
The Central Park Carousel is entirely hand carved and hand painted and features the largest hand-carved figures ever made. Rides on the Central Park are $3 each for both adults and children.
The Central Park Carousel is located mid-park at approximately 65th Street and Sixth Avenue.
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Hidden Nyc: 23 Fun Things To Do In Central Park
Central Park was created as a respite for the teeming masses of Manhattan. The 843-acre jewel is home to woodlands, meadows, lakes, and wildlife, and years later still offers a reprieve to all New Yorkers. Today, more than 40 million people annually visit the lush expanses of one of the country’s earliest public parks. Its 21 playgrounds make it a destination for families from all over the city and world.
Central Park isnt a place to tire of easily. My family’s daily commute to school takes us back and forth across the parkfor that, I thank my lucky stars. But it’s easy to lose perspective and forget how much this massive green space has to offer locals and visitors alike. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up 23 fun sites and scenes worth exploring in New York City’s big backyard, from the obvious playgrounds and sledding hills to more obscure destinations. Enjoy!
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Central Park is certainly unique, but you can find more top NYC green spaces in our Parks and Playgrounds Guide.
The Delacorte Musical Clock will sing you a tune every 30 minutes. Photo courtesy of the Central Park Conservancy.
Check out an art installation and the sunset on the Met rooftop. Photo by Alan Strakey via Flickr.
Enjoy storytime and more at the Hans Christian Andersen statue. Photo by Barry Solow via Flickr.
Places To Eat Near Central Park
RedFarm is famous for its inventive Chinese menu, which offers an inspired take on traditional dumpling and Dim Sum dishes. With sidewalk tables for enjoying alfresco dining on sunny days and cute vintage interiors with private booths or shared tables, this is a great place to enjoy affordable, first-class Asian food just a few minutes away from Central Park.
This stylish take on the traditional American diner is always busy and a firm favorite with both visitors and locals alike. Famous for their delicious and innovative wet sandwich combos, as well as a wide range of iconic American French Dips, a table at Maison Pickle is well worth waiting for.
Offering a highly inventive approach to Indian cuisine, this stylish and upscale restaurant is situated in Midtown, just a few minutes away from Central Park itself. Diners can enjoy a deliciously spicy menu that is best washed down with a little something from the carefully crafted cocktail menu. Indian Accent is a great place to enjoy the finest flavors after a busy day exploring the park.
As the signature restaurant of the Trump Central Park Hotel, this 2 Michelin star-rated restaurant is named after its famous owner, Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Rated as one of the very best restaurants in the city, reservations here are hard to come by.
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Best Central Park Tours
Central Park is a sprawling urban park nestled in the middle of Manhattan, New York.
The 843-acre patch of nature includes a lake and serves as The Big Apples beautiful little backyard, breathing some much-needed fresh oxygen into the citys air.
The cherished asset is one of New York Citys biggest attractions, attracting visitors from far and wide who come here for the myriad attractions on offer Central Park Zoo, Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, Belvedere Castle, Strawberry Fields and more.
The huge park has served as a filming spot for countless TV shows and movie scenes numbering in the hundreds. Certainly, its scenic meadows, hills, ball fields, skating rinks, restaurants, playgrounds, and other assets has something to do with it.
Central Park attracts 35 million visitors annually on average, making it the most visited urban park in the United States, with World Travelers rating it as one of the worlds best parks.
Due to its vastness and the number of things to do, the best way to experience Central Park is with a tour.
Check out these 15 best Central Park tours that are a definite must-try whenever youre visiting this National Historic Landmark.
Weddings In Central Park
Central Park is known as one of the most romantic parts of the Big Apple to have a wedding. Popular places to say “I do” are Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, the Loeb Boathouse, iconic Bow Bridge, the Carousel, romantic Shakespeare Garden, picturesque Belvedere Castle and other top wedding spots in Central Park.
Contact us to start planning your perfect wedding!
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The Arcade At Bethesda Terrace
This is another Central Park feature with a misleading name, so dont expect to find Space Invaders down here. Lying at the center of Central Park, The Arcade at Bethesda Terrace is almost palatial in appearance.
It also offers some of the best acoustics in the city, which is why youll frequently see buskers and performers singing and playing instruments down here.
Where To Stay In New York City
There are so many neighborhoods to choose from in New York City. How is a first-time visitor supposed to pick? If you dont know the city well, I recommend staying in Midtown so you can easily get to all parts of the city. Stay near a subway stop so you can get around easily.
While it might be tempting to stay in Times Square, it doesnt give you an accurate picture of how charming New York City can be and it can be really noisy and crowded. Its best to stay outside of that area.
Here are a few of our recommended hotels in NYC. You can read reviews of book directly through any of these links:
- The Quin luxury boutique hotel near Central Park with a bar/lounge, renovated rooms and nice bathrooms Read reviews | Book now on Expedia
- Kimpton Hotel Eventi Luxury boutique spa hotel in Chelsea. The location and the hotel itself is very impressive Read reviews | Book now on Expedia
- Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel Located in midtown, near Grand Central, this is an impressive hotel with modern design Read reviews | Book now on Expedia
What are your favorite things to do in New York City either as a tourist or as a local? Share it with us in the comments.
Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited 70+ countries.
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The Pond And Gapstow Bridge
The Pond is the southernmost body of water in the park. It is entirely man-made and is fed from the city water supply system.
Gapstow Bridge arches over the Pond and offers one of the best views of Midtown from Central Park. It is a classic spot for a photo so have your camera ready.
It is also a popular location for marriage proposals to take place – so have a ring with you too!
Go north up the path and then head under the Inscope Arch towards the Central Park Zoo.
Horse & Carriage Couple
Horse-drawn carriage rides are another traditional way to spend time in the park while kicking back with a loved one and indulging in the crisp fall air and winter wonderland sights. Sites seen typically include the Wollman Rink, the Pond, the Central Park Zoo, Sheep Meadow, the Mall, Cherry Hill, the Dairy, the Carousel, Strawberry Fields and the Dakota .
Horse-drawn carriages are available for rides year round and can be reserved online. The price of the ride is based on how long you want it to be, with most carriage rides lasting between 45 minutes to 1.5 hours. You can also order specialized add-ons such as extra time, photography, flowers, chocolate, or specific pick up and drop off locations. Rides can be personalized beforehand for wedding proposals, anniversaries, birthdays or other special occasions. Book a Horse & Carriage Tour
Carriage rides are extremely popular during the holiday season and there is usually a line for a walk-up ride, so reserving online is highly recommended.
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The Central Park Zoo And The Tisch Childrens Zoo
The Wildlife Conservation Societys Central Park Zoo and the Tisch Childrens Zoo. Here, just a few yards from 5th Ave. youll find over 130 different species ranging from giant Polar Bears to the Brazilian black tarantula. A walk around the Zoos five plus acres will take you through a variety of habitats, all carefully designed to recreate the natural environment of the animals they house. The Zoo is divided into three different sections which provide the animals with homes as close to their natural habitat as possible. These include tropic, temperate and polar zones that house everything from geckos to the hugely popular polar bears. The Zoo is also actively involved the preservation of endangered species, providing a home for rare tamarin monkeys, Wyoming toads, thick-billed parrots, and red pandas. With its seasonal programs, including the recent Boo at the Zoo Halloween celebration, along with the various educational programs offered, the Central Park Zoo has something for everyone. This would probably account for the over one million park-goers that visit annually, making the Central Park Zoo the Greatest Place in Central Park.
Top Ten Attractions In Central Park
Angel of Waters Bethesda Fountain
Central Park features an amazing array of attractions and points of interest that engage and inspire the over 25 million annual visitors. Bethesda Fountain rises high above Bethesda Terrace, looking over the hundreds of visitors that come every day to enjoy the view of the Lake and relax at the heart of Central Park. The sculpture that tops it, Angel of Waters, was designed by Emma Stebbins in 1873 and is one of the most recognizable icons in the entire park. It is also number four on our list of the top ten Attractions in Central Park.
From Columbus Circle to Grand Army Plaza to Duke Ellington Circle the park features gardens, world famous performance venues, historic statuary, lakes, ponds and pools. There are more than thirty bridges and arches, two iconic restaurants, a wildlife refuge, a marionette theater and a real life castle not to mention the Central Park Zoo. Trying to pick a top ten from the myriad of choices is next to impossible, but here is our list of the Top Ten Attractions in Central Park.
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Explore Bethesda Fountain Terrace And Arcade
The Central Park designers consider Bethesda fountain, terrace and arcade as the heart of the park, and has been featured in numerous films and shows like Sex and the City and Enchanted. Dont miss the Angel of the Waters statue, and the underground Arcade with the amazing 15,000-tile ceiling and decorative carvings.
Catch A New York City Sports Team
New York City is home to some of the most exciting sports teams in the world. Go for the fans, go for the food, go for the game.
MetLife Stadium hosts both the Jets and the Giants and in the heart of midtown Manhattan, watch the Knicks rock the backboards or the Rangers slash the ice at Madison Square Garden. You can also check out some of our newer teams, the Brooklyn Nets and the NY Islanders, both at Barclays Center, and the NYCFC at Yankee Stadium.
Whether your NYC sports adventure takes you on a subway to Queens, Brooklyn or the Bronx, on the bus to New Jersey or just down the street to MSG, fall sports are definitely one of the best things to do in New York in November.
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Loeb Boathouse On The Lake
On the far eastern shore of The Lake, the beautiful Loeb Boathouse is a restaurant with an indoor dining room and an outdoor seating area, set right on the water’s edge. The picturesque setting here is often used for weddings and other formal events.
You can sit here on a warm afternoon sipping coffee or enjoying a meal while watching people row boats on the usually calm water. If you are looking for a little more activity, you can rent a boat yourself and go for a paddle around the lake.