Offering blissful respite from Manhattan’s concrete jungle, this is the perfect spot to rest weary feet or enjoy a picnic.
When it comes to film credits, no green space in the world can match New York City's Central Park. “When Harry Met Sally,” “Annie Hall,” “Home Alone 2,” and “Sex and the City: The Movie” all feature scenes shot in Manhattan’s iconic park, which opened in 1857 and is renowned as one of the city’s most precious outdoor areas.
Dividing the Upper West and the Upper East Side neighborhoods, Central Park — a 843-acre expanse of woodland, historical monuments and sporting facilities — sits between 59th and 110th Streets. It’s a much-loved place of respite from the urban chaos of Manhattan. Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted, the man behind other notable landscape projects such as the Stanford University campus and Niagara Reservation in Niagara Falls, designed it.
Boasting its own string of landmarks — like the Bethesda Fountain, famous Loeb Boathouse Restaurant, and Strawberry Fields, home to John Lennon’s Imagine memorial — Central Park offers plenty to see and do. There are 58 miles ( 93 kilometers) of walking trails and 21 playgrounds. In the warmer months, a horse-drawn carriage ride or a spin on the Central Park Carousel are musts for romantics. You can also hire a rowboat from the Boathouse between April and November. In winter, Central Park has two ice-skating rinks, while the award-winning Central Park Zoo is open year-round.
History and architecture enthusiasts will appreciate the park’s fascinating structures. The Arsenal, which resembles a medieval fortress but is actually a former munitions supply depot for New York State's National Guard, was built in the mid-1850s, actually predating the park. Belvedere Castle is another beautiful building and offers free guided tours daily. And there are a range of bronze monuments, paying homage to everyone from Hans Christian Andersen to Romeo and Juliet, dotted throughout the park.
Should you lose your bearings, check in with one of the friendly volunteers at the park information booths. They dispense detailed park maps and can guide you in the right direction.
While there are plenty of activities and attractions in Central Park, take time to do as the New Yorkers do: grab a bite to eat from one of the many vendors selling hot dogs, pretzels, and ice cream, find a sunny spot on the sprawling Great Lawn and relax.
Central Park is located in the Upper West Side and Upper East Side neighborhoods, and is easy to get to by subway or bus.