Central Park is among the most beloved and visited landmarks in The United States. It is placed on 778 acres of land and even for New Yorkers it is still difficult to orientate without a guide. With sights like lakes, castles, memorials, bridges, Central Park is much more than green spot right in the middle of Manhattan. The Park was established in 1857 based on the plans and design of Frederick Olmsted and Calvert Vaux – well known national landscapers and architects.
If this is your day off and you’re planning to take a walk or just rest you should checkout our guide to make sure you won’t miss anything worth to be seen.
In the first part of your guide you will read about the most popular and preferred sights in Central Park to help you make your day as interesting as possible.
#1 Bethesda Terrace
Bethesda Terrace and the Fountain on top of it are so popular, that you could never miss them! This landmark has been filmed many times as a backdrop and for a reason- the two level terrace architecture and design are truly beautiful. The levels are united by two staircases and a lower passage that goes under the Terrace Drive.
You should definitely check out the Minton Tile ceiling of the lower passage because it is one of the greatest highlights in Central Park. The walls and pillars of the terrace are decorated with sculptures, which depict the four seasons. Once you go towards the Fountain you will be charmed by the sculpture of Emma Stebbins on the top, called Angel of Waters.
#2 Conservatory Water
Conservatory Water, often called Boat Pond, is small pond inspired by 19th century Parisian ponds. It was created to bring joy and entertainment to both children and adults who enjoy playing with boats. If you have remote-control sailboat this is the place to take your chance in the water.
The spot is very calm and preferred by families. It was perpetuated on the filmstrip of Stuart Little, who sailed in the same waters in the movie. Near to Conservatory Water there are the two beloved statues of Hans Andersen and Alice in Wonderland – great spot to go with your kids.
#3 Bow Bridge
Bow Bridge is favored spot by the film industry. The cast iron used for building this bridge distinguishes it from all other archways in the park. It is 60 feet long and connects Cherry Hill and The Ramble. By standing on the bridge you will be treated with an astonishing view towards the park and perfect place for taking pictures.
The bridge’s lines are soft and delicate. It stretches smoothly between the shores with its beautiful bas-relief panels and white color. Bow Bridge is one of the most romantic places in the park, favored by couples, you might even become a witness of one of the many marriage proposals that happen there.
#4 Belvedere Castle
Belvedere Castle is a magical monument standing on the top of Vista Rock. This is the second highest natural elevation in the park. The building designed by two architects was made with the intention to be a “Folly”- a fantasy building. The Central Park Weather Station is situated behind its walls. But don’t worry, there is plenty to see inside. There are several exhibit rooms you can visit.
Belvedere Castle was created to provide breathtaking view towards the park and from its observational platform you can see the Delacorte Theater, the Great Lawn, and Turtle Pond. Belvedere Castle combines delicately two architectural styles Gothic and Romanesque, with the flavor of royal Victorian presence.
#5 Central Park Zoo
Of course the Zoo! Favored spot not only to young visitors, but great place for their grown up companions as well. The Zoo is opened daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM /April to October/ and it gives you the chance to see and get close to nature and wild animals. Visitors can meet animals from three global zones and keep an eye on their habits during feeding time. You will need a ticket to enter – Adult ticket costs $16.20 if bought online.
Visitors can take advantage of the guided tours to learn new and interesting facts about wild animals. Nearby is the Children’s Zoo, a smaller space designed especially for children, who like to meet the animals. In the Children’s Zoo are hosted small domestic animals like goats, cows and sheep, friendly to people. Children can even feed the animals themselves!
#6 The Ramble
Just off the Bethesda Terrace lays a 38 acre of meandering pathway through a thick forest. This part of the park is meant to be a city projection to a wild forest, hidden away from noisy and overcrowded park areas. The Ramble’s flora will surprise you with exotic trees like the Kentucky coffee tree, yellow wood and cucumber magnolia. You will also be able to see native plants, which have taken over the park’s forest- black cherry, black locust and oak trees.
This wild garden will give you the chance to take a long walk and observe the fauna – famous for its many different species of birds and other small animals, such as raccoons. They can be seen roaming freely between trees and bushes. Visitors can stop and take a look at the artificial stream – The Gill, which runs through The Ramble.
#7 Strawberry Fields
This memorial is dedicated to John Lennon. It takes its name from the Beatles famous song “Strawberry Fields Forever”. It is a triangular piece of land situated across the Dakota Apartments, where John Lennon lived at the time of his murder. This memorial was brought to life based on the project of Bruce Kelly and Yoko Ono.
The centerpiece of the memorial is iconic black and white mosaic “Imagine” after The Beatles everlasting song. The mosaic was designed by Italian artists, a gift from the city of Naples. Close to the mosaic you can see a bronze plaque with the names of more than 120 countries, which gave their respect to Lennon’s work, by planting flowers.The “Imagine” mosaic is probably the most visited landmark in Central Park respected by thousands of fans.
If you have a chance to be in the park on the day of Lennon’s birthday or on the day of the anniversary of his death, you can take part of the gatherings, where people from all over the world sing, lay flowers and pay tribute to the famous musician.
Did you know that when you dial a special number on the signs throughout the park you can hear recorded messages about the different attractions? But what’s the unique part? The messages are recorded by 30+ famous people like Yoko Ono, Matthew Broderick, Whoopi Goldberg, Glenn Close, who share their memories and personal experiences about Central Park’s sights.
#9 The Pond
The Pond, laying below the street level in the Southeast corner of Central Park is your escape from the city hectic life. A peaceful place with spectacular view of the water, it is preferred by visitors, especially at sunset. A bridge stretches over The Pond and with the Plaza Hotel and city scenery as a backdrop you will feel NYC spirit. The area is planted with Crabapple and Forsythia trees, enriching the view.
#10 The Mall
The Mall, which runs through the center of the park was designed as a carriages pathway leading to Bethesda Terrace. It was meant to be the only formal part of the park. The creators intention was to allow wealthy citizens to meet people from lower classes, while taking their daily walks.
Today The Mall is a walkway, lined by elm trees and favorite place for performers and musicians. Often skaters and skateboarders can be seen passing heading to the Terrace. Another great idea is to rent a bike in Central Park at a shop nearby and ride through this amazing walkway! At the upper end of The Mall stands the Bandshell, an original feature in the park created to host summer open air concerts.