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Central Park

Aerial View of Central Park © NYC&Co
Fifty-eight miles of paths lead the way through 136 wooded acres, providing a tranquil sanctuary for native wildlife, and over 250 acres of lush gardens, sweeping meadows, and manicured lawns.

Central Park is notably the most-visited urban park in the USA

Nestled amid towering high-rise buildings of New York City, the USA’s largest city, Central Park is the largest urban park in the USA. Sheltered from the commotion of over eight-million New Yorkers hustling about its outskirts, the Park’s ubiquitous charm offers a gratifying retreat. An estimated 25-million people visit the Park each year, and it’s no wonder. The variety of recreational, cultural, educational, and community events is just as diverse as Park visitors. Several hotels and shops are within walking distance from the Park’s 843 enchanting acres (3.4 km2). Others are just a short taxi-cab or bus ride away--a traveler’s delight!

The Park’s compelling ambiance sets the stage for many movie and television scenes. Visiting there you might recognize its infamous New York City skyline, bridges, fountains, sculptures, the Victorian carousal, Egyptian obelisk, Shakespearean Castle, or perhaps a dismal fog and dimly-lit trail reminiscent of a mysterious and grisly tale. Guided tours are available to explore these attractions for about $20 per person.

Discovering the Park is as much fun as experiencing it

Fifty-eight miles of paths lead the way through 136 wooded acres, providing a tranquil sanctuary for native wildlife, and over 250 acres of lush gardens, sweeping meadows, and manicured lawns. The Park is more than just a playground for joggers, bicyclers, skaters, and horseback riders. It offers a restful pastime for nannies pushing strollers, the frail feeding pigeons, and students reading books. Dogs are walked. Children play ball. Birdwatchers look to the sky in search of native and migratory birds. New Yorkers mingle with international visitors as horse-drawn carriages pass by.

Varied landscapes, including the 13-acre Great Lawn, are model venues for sporting events, concerts, festivals, celebrations, or simply relaxing or taking a leisurely stroll. Lakes, ponds, and meandering streams divide the landscape. Weather permitting, boat and kayak rentals and Venetian gondola rides are available March through October.

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Chilly winter temperatures averaging 4°C sustain wintertime sports such as ice skating from January to April. Can’t skate? Lessons are available, but you will want to pre-register to ensure availability. Sledding down one of the many hills and snowshoeing is also fun for those who enjoy snow!

Summertime draws swimmers and sunbathers to lake shores. Temperatures average 25°C with July usually being the warmest month. The open-air Delacorte Theatre features Shakespeare in the Park while the Metropolitan Opera and New York Philharmonic offer free concerts each summer.

Cultural and heritage attractions abound

Other points of interest include, but are certainly not limited to, several museums including The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History, The Conservatory Garden, The Tennis Center, The Central Park Zoo, The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, and the world-renowned Strawberry Fields.

Strawberry Fields is a memorial garden honoring the life and musical contributions of John Lennon, member of the legendary rock band, The Beatles. His murder shocked the world as evidenced by a commemorative monument listing the names of 121 countries endorsing the monument as a Garden of Peace.

For an overview of Central Park activities, visit OverseasAttractions.com, where you can book a variety of tours and take advantage of money-saving passes.

Appetites are quenched with cuisine from around the world

Several exclusive restaurants serve the finest cuisine, while kiosks and food carts dole out hot dogs, bagels, and snacks for a more casual meal. Two of the more prestigious and pricey restaurants are the Loeb Boathouse and Tavern on the Green.

Loeb Boathouse overlooks the still waters of Lake More. Many guests enjoy fine cuisine in one of several formal dining rooms. Others, warmed by overhead heat lamps, prefer a lighter meal on the outdoor terrace. Rowboats and Venetian gondolas add a romantic touch to the serene landscape.

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John Lennon Memorial in Central Park © Corel
Strawberry Fields is a memorial garden honoring the life and musical contributions of John Lennon, member of the legendary rock band, The Beatles.

Tavern on the Green offers panoramic views of the Park and is one of the USA’s most profitable, independently-owned restaurants. Each November, thousands of runners and spectators gather here for the ING New York City Marathon. The finish line of this 26.2-mile race is located on West Drive just outside the Tavern.

Hot dog stands, a well-known icon in and around New York City, can be spotted throughout the Park. Visitors often find themselves in search of the perfect hot dog. When they do, favorite condiments such as mustard, ketchup, sauerkraut, chili, cheese, relish, and onions are piled high!

Park crime has decreased the last 10 years

Safety is often a consideration when visiting any public place and the Park is no exception. Your best defense is to be aware of the risks and take precautions as you would anywhere.

  • Visit the Park in daylight hours. If you must visit at night, stay in groups, and avoid dimly-lit areas.
  • Stay on main streets and walkways. Do not take shortcuts through woodlands.
  • Criminals consider tourists easy prey. Do not make it obvious you are a tourist.
  • Do not flaunt valuables, credit cards, or cash and keep them secure to avoid being snatched.
  • Have your cell phone handy. Call <911> to connect you to emergency services. Or, call <911> from any pay phone; it’s a free call.
  • Call boxes connecting directly to Central Park police are strategically placed throughout the park.

Emergency ambulance services are FREE to Park guests

Central Park Medical Unit (CPMU) can be reached by calling <911> from your cell phone. This free service is recognized by local officials for quick response time and quality service.

The Central Park Store and Visitor Centers Welcome You

Central Park Store is stocked with souvenirs including coffee mugs, clothing, trinkets, and more! Items more useful to first-time visitors include maps, guidebooks, or perhaps binoculars! Four Visitor Centers offer general information plus environmental and community activities.

Written by: Cindy Singleton
Top Photo Credit: © Mike Leco / USATourist.com
Photo Description: Central Park