New York City Travel Guide

New York City Sights

Central Park

  • Park/Playground
  • Fodor's Choice

Published 04/20/2023

Fodor's Review

Central Park's creators had a simple goal: to design a place where city dwellers could go to forget the city. Even though New York eventually grew far taller than the trees planted to hide it, this goal has never faltered. A combination escape hatch and exercise yard, Central Park is an urbanized Eden that gives residents and visitors alike a bite of the apple. Indeed, without the Central Park's 843 acres of meandering paths, tranquil lakes, ponds, and open meadows, New Yorkers (especially Manhattanites) might be a lot less sane.

The busy southern section of Central Park, from 59th to 72nd Street, is where most visitors get their first impression. But no matter how many people congregate around here, you can always find a spot to picnic, ponder, or just take in the foliage, especially on a sunny day. Playgrounds, lawns, jogging and biking paths, and striking buildings populate the midsection of the park, from 72nd Street to the reservoir. You can soak up the sun, take in the public

art, take pictures at Bethesda Fountain, visit the penguins at the Central Park Zoo, or join the runners huffing counterclockwise on the dirt track that surrounds the reservoir. North of the reservoir and up to 110th Street, Central Park is less crowded and feels more rugged. Not many people know about Lasker Rink & Pool in the northeast corner of the park, a swimming pool that becomes a skating rink in winter—and it's much less crowded than Wollman Rink in the southern part of the park. To find out about park events and a variety of year-round walking tours, visit the website of the Central Park Conservancy.

If you're taking the subway to the park's southernmost parts, then the stops at either Columbus Circle (southwest corner) or 5th Avenue/59th Street (southeast corner) are handy. If headed for points north, the A, B, C, and D subway lines travel along Central Park West (beware of local versus express stops), while the 4, 5, and 6 lines travel along Lexington Avenue, three blocks east of 5th Avenue and the park.

There are many paved pedestrian entrances into the park, from 5th Avenue, Central Park North (110th Street), Central Park West, and Central Park South (59th Street). Four roads, or transverses, cut through the park from east to west—66th, 79th, 86th, and 96th Streets. The East and West drives are both along the north–south axis; Center Drive enters the south edge of the park at 6th Avenue and connects with East Drive around 66th Street. Along the main loop, lampposts are marked with location codes that include a letter—always "E" (for east) or "W" (for west)—followed by numbers, the first two of which tell you the nearest cross street. For example, E7803 means you're near 78th Street; above 99, the initial "1" is omitted, so W0401 is near West 104th Street. Download the Central Park Conservancy's free app for a GPS-enabled map to help you navigate the park. The app also includes an audio guide, self-guided tours, and current events in the park. Central Park has one of the lowest crime rates in the city. Still, use common sense and stay within sight of other park visitors, and in general, avoid the park after dark.

If you haven't packed a picnic and you want a snack, you can usually find one of those rather tired-looking food carts selling pretzels and ice-cream sandwiches. But these days, there are often specialty food carts around, too, mostly in the southern half of the park—your taste buds will thank you. Other reliable options include the café next to the Boathouse Restaurant (midpark at 74th Street), or the park's branch of Le Pain Quotidien (midpark at 69th Street). Both serve sandwiches, soup, pastries, and other satisfying on-the-go grub (and Le Pain also has free Wi-Fi). If you're looking for something a little more iconic, you can stop for brunch, lunch, or dinner at the Tavern on the Green.

As part of a parkwide restoration project named Plan for Play, all 21 playgrounds have undergone or will get an update through the 2010s. Most will see renovations to play structures, plus other improvements that will ensure each one's structural stability and ongoing maintenance for decades to come.

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  • Central Park, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA

    T photography / Shutterstock

Sight Information

Address:

New York, New York, USA

Phone:

212-794–6564-for Dairy Visitor Center; 212-360–2726-for custom walking tours; 212-310–6600-for Central Park Conservancy

Published 04/20/2023

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