Top Things to See in Central Park in New York City
Whether you are looking for views of the New York City skyline or want to find a quiet escape from the intense daily life in the City, Central Park is a beautiful place to explore. In the southern part the Park, Wollman Rink and Sheep Meadow feature romantic views of the New York City skyline. In late October and early November, visitors can catch a colorful display of fall foliage throughout Central Park, and especially along the Mall.
The north end of the Mall leads to Bethesda Terrace overlooking the Angel of the Waters Fountain, one of the most photographed spots in the world. From there, visitors can walk around the Lake, passing Bow Bridge, Hernshead, the Ladies Pavilion, and end up at Cherry Hill. Alternatively, if you walk north from the Lake, you will reach the charming and romantic Shakespeare Garden, located between Delacorte Theater, Belvedere Castle, and the Swedish Cottage. From Belvedere Castle, visitors can enjoy beautiful views of the Great Lawn and the City.
1. Literary Walk
At the southern end of the Mall at mid-Park and 72nd Street, Central Park is dotted with sculptures of the following literary figures: William Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns. Other larger-than-life statues include Christopher Columbus, Victor Herbert and Ludwig van Beethoven. This part of Central Park is also known as Literary Walk.
Composers Herbert and Beethoven are near the Naumburg Bandshell, the Mall summer concert area. Most of the sculptures were dedicated towards the end of the 19th century.
The Olmsted Bed at the southernmost end of the Mall is a tribute to Frederick Law Olmsted, the creator of Central Park. The flower bed features seasonal pansies, impatiens, flowing groundcover, and American elms.
2. Cedar Hill
Cedar Hill at East Side and 76th-79th Streets in Central Park is an area with classical landscaping where people enjoy picnicking, reading, and sunbathing. It is located just south of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The area was beautifully restored in 1994 by the Central Park Conservancy. During the project, Cedar Hill received a new irrigation system. Nearby attractions include the Obelisk, the Great Lawn and Turtle Pond.
3. Jog Around The Reservoir
The Reservoir in New York City's Central Park stretches from 85th to 96th Streets. It is best known for its spectacular views of New York and the running track that surrounds it. The track measures 1.58 miles in length and surrounds a 106-acre body of water. In the summer heat, the area around the Reservoir is often the coolest in the city.
Although the Reservoir no longer provides fresh water to Manhattan residents, it provides water to the Pool, Loch, and Harlem Meer in the northern part of the Park. The Reservoir is a great place to spot birds. Sightings have included five different species of gulls and over 20 species of waterfowl, grebes, cormorants, and loons.
4. Maine Monument
Maine Monument in Columbus Circle is a colossal sculpture located at Merchants Gate, West 59th Street in New York City. The monument commemorates sailors who died on the battleship Maine when it exploded in Cuba in 1898.
The monument marks the entrance to Central Park. It features a gilded bronze sculpture set on top of massive 44-foot limestone base with a fountain and figures portraying Victory, Peace, Courage, Fortitude, and Justice. Maine Monument was created by sculptor Attilio Picarelli and was placed in Central Park in 1913.
Columbus Circle, located at the ends of Central Park South and Central Park West, is home to one of the main entrances to Central Park, the Trump International Hotel and the 80-story Time Warner skyscrapers. In the center of Columbus Circle stands a marble statue of the explorer Christopher Columbus, perched on top of a tall granite column. Visitors enter Central Park through Merchants' Gate which features the colossal Maine Monument and pedestrian paths leading into the Park.
5. Heckscher Ballfields
Heckscher Ballfields, located at 63rd Street between the west and center drives, offer six ballfields where teams and other groups can reserve to play baseball or softball from mid-April through mid-September. In order to play at Heckscher Ballfields, groups must apply for a permit. Permits are issued by NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and cost $8 per session. Permits are free for a league composed of players 17 years old and younger. One can request a permit by phone at 212-408-0209.
6. The Obelisk
The Obelisk is the oldest manmade object in New York City's Central Park. It is located behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art, at East Side and 81st Street. The Obelisk is also known at Cleopatra's Needle, although it does not appear to be related to Cleopatra. It was created for Thutmosis III in Heliopolis around 1500 BC, and arrived in the United States in 1879. There are benches and flowers around the Obelisk, which is now also illuminated.
7. Grand Army Plaza and The Pulitzer Fountain
Grand Army Plaza is a large open area situated between Central Park and Midtown Manhattan at Fifth Avenue between 58th and 60th Streets. The Plaza features the Sherman Monument and the Pulitzer Fountain. Horse-drawn carriages line up in Grand Army Plaza year-round, offering New York City visitors romantic rides through Central Park.
Grand Army Plaza is split into two parts by Central Park South, a design inspired by Place de la Concorde in Paris. The northern half features the Sherman Monument with a gilded statue of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman which was dedicated in 1903.
The southern half of the Plaza is home to the Pulitzer Fountain. The fountain, reminiscent of Italian Renaissance, has six granite basins and a bronze figure of Pomona, goddess of abundance. To the north of the Grand Army Plaza is the Doris C. Freedman Plaza which is the site of rotating 6-month sculpture exhibits by the Public Art Fund.
Located at West Side between 75th and 76th Streets, Hernshead is a rocky opening overlooking the Lake. The area offers romantic vacation views of the New York skyline and is especially attractive in the spring with blooming azaleas, Virginia bluebells, Dutchman's breeches, and daffodils.
The Ladies Pavilion at Hernshead is a white cast iron Victorian vintage structure which provides its visitors with shade in the summer. In the fall, Hernshead visitors can admire a playful display of fall colors on nearby trees and shrubs reflecting in the Lake.
9. Wisteria Pergola
Wisteria Pergola is an overlook above the Naumburg Bandshell at the northern end of the Mall in Central Park. In the summer, vines create a roof that provides a shady refuge to Park visitors. The Naumburg Bandshell presents a series of concerts during the warmer months, including those offered by Naumburg Orchestral Concerts. SummerStage, which presents jazz and multicultural performances, is located on the Rumsey Playfield behind the Wisteria Pergola.
10. The Pulitzer Fountain
The Pulitzer Fountain is the centerpiece of the southern part of the Grand Army Plaza, located at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue in New York.
Donated by Joseph Pulitzer, the fountain features round granite basins that catch cascading water, and a bronze statue of Pomona, the Roman goddess of abundance. The fountain, created by Karl Bitter, was placed in the Grand Army Plaza in 1916. The Pulitzer Fountain is surrounded by famous buildings, including the FAO Schwartz and the Bergdorf Goodman. Central Park is located to the north of the Grand Army Plaza.
11. Cherry Hill
Located West of Bethesda Terrace mid-Park at 72nd Street, Cherry Hill offers beautiful views of the Lake and the Ramble.
12. Rent a Boat at The Central Park Boathouse
Rent a boat on your romantic weekend getaway to New York and enjoy unique views of New York from the water. The Boathouse, located in Central Park on the East Side between 74th and 75th streets, offers boat rentals, gondola rides, bicycle rentals and dining. Inside the Boathouse, birders can record their observations of Central Park birds and other wildlife in a notebook.
The first Boathouse was designed in the 1870s at the eastern end of the Lake. The current Loeb Boathouse took its place in 1950s after the original structure burnt down.
Dining is offered year-round at the restaurant overlooking the lake, so you can have a romantic lunch with a view right after. The deck features overhead heating so that outdoor dining services can be extended into the fall. For reservations, call 212-517-2233. Snacks are offered on the outside terrace facing the bicycle rental concession.
Row boats are available for rent daily from March through October, weather permitting, from 10:00 am to 5 pm. The cost for the rental is $10 for the first hour and $2.50 each additional 15 minutes. A $30 cash deposit is required. Romantic gondola rides, offered in the summer, cost $30 per half hour. The hours are 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm Monday through Friday, and 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm Saturday and Sunday. Bicycle rentals cost $9 to $15 per hour. A credit card, driver's license or passport are required as a deposit.