Established in 1857, Central Park is a lovely urban oasis 2.5 miles long and half a mile wide, right in the middle of New York City. Appearing from above as a giant green rectangle surrounded by city sprawl, New York City's “backyard” is massive, extending all the way from 59th Street (Central Park South) to 110th Street on the north end, and from 5th Ave. to Central Park West (8th Ave). With 26,000 trees and 58 miles of paths running through 843 acres of wooded and landscaped grounds, Central Park is a pleasant escape from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple.
There is no shortage of things to see and do in the park. Dozens of free, guided walking tours are available through the Central Park Conservatory. In the summer you can picnic on the Great Lawn, go for a bike ride (rentals available), take a dip in Lasker Pool, or visit Belvedere Castle. In the winter, you can join other New Yorkers and tourists and take a few laps skating on Wollman Rink or Laker Rink.
And any time of year is a good time to plop down on one of the 9,000 park benches and simply people watch. If you have kids, there's the Central Park Zoo, and 21 playgrounds to choose from. And don't forget about the famous Central Park Carousel, hand-crafted in 1908 and featuring some of the tallest merry-go-round horses in the U.S.
Central Park – Trip Tips
It's as easy to spend a full day in Central Park as it is to go for a quick lunch-time stroll. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you visit this popular New York City attraction:
- Quick food and light refreshments can be found at the Boathouse snack bar. Their restaurant also offers gourmet meals if you have more time (and money).
- Be sure to take a stroll through the stunning Conservatory Gardens, with botanical tributes to the gardens of France, Italy and Britain.
- Central Park has countless ballfields and basketball courts to enjoy. But you don't have to pack your own – balls, bats, frisbees, etc. are available with photo ID at the North Meadow Recreation Center.
- Music fans should be sure to stop by the John Lennon memorial “Strawberry Fields” to pay tribute and honor the legendary artist not far from where his life tragically ended.