This is the second part of our Central Park Guide where you can find out which are the places and sights you shouldn’t miss. We will talk about green fields, beautiful gardens, calming waters and breathtaking views. If you believe that walking around Central Park without a guide or a map is easy, you’re wrong and you risk to lose your day. Our best advice is to hire a bike or sign for a walking tour.
See the rest of the top interesting points in Central Park by reading the first part of our Central Park Guide.
#1 Conservatory Garden
This charming area of the park is well hidden from daily hassle. It is a quiet and peaceful place suitable for complete mind and body rest. It is the only formal garden in Central Park. It was created to replace the previous Conservatory that stood on the site. Today Conservatory Garden is favorite spot for weddings and other formal events. So don’t be surprised to see celebrating people.
The garden is located on 5th Avenue and 105th Street. Its main entrance passed through The Vanderbilt Gate – an elegantly decorated cast iron gate. The garden was designed by Gilmore Clark and is great example for perfect landscape architecture.
Conservatory Garden is divided into three sections. Each of them displays different style – French, English and Italian. You will find roses, begonias, crabapples and a giant American Sycamore. Visit the Garden during the spring or the autumn to enjoy the tulip and chrysanthemums displays. For the admirers of “The Secret Garden” book there stays a water lily pool dedicated to the famous writer Frances Burnett.
#2 The Lake
The Lake is 18 acre of calm waters. Designed to be essential part of the park, it is located in the middle of the park very close to The Bethesda Terrace. On its eastern end visitors can hire a rowboat for a quick exercise in the water, have lunch or just a drink at the Boathouse Restaurant.
The lake is man-made artificial one, created from a swamp after its excavation in the 50’s . Until 1950 the lake was used for ice-skating in the winter and boating in the summer. Later these activities were discontinued in favor of restoration of wildlife and nature. Today you can observe birds from the lake shores such as ducks, swans and other more unusual birds.
#3 Shakespeare Garden
Another garden which differs with its uniqueness. Shakespeare Garden is called in honor of the great English poet, playwright, and actor Sir William Shakespeare. There you will find only trees and plants mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays. Then and now Shakespeare’s Garden is one of the centerpieces of Central Park and an essential attraction.
You can find plants like columbine, primrose, wormwood, quince, lark’s heel, rue, eglantine, flax and cowslip. It’s interesting to know that the garden was left for years to neglect. It was overgrown and needed replanting. The full restoration was completed in 1986 and since then the garden has expanded.
#4 Swedish Cottage
This is a real Swedish cottage. It was built in Sweden in 1875 and two years later placed in the park. The cottage belonged to an exhibition that took place in Philadelphia. Back then no one thought it would become such a popular spot. Nowadays the cottage is used to host the famous Marionette Theater. However, back in the years it had many and different purposes.
It was used as library, tool house, laboratory, but its most important role was during the World War II as army headquarters. The cottage itself is very charming house, built in traditional northern spirit. If you like to experience its magical flush you should visit one of the Marionette performances or just hire it for birthday celebration.
#5 Cherry Hill
Cherry Hill overlooks The Lake and is popular with its fountain. Some call it silly and inappropriate, others respect it for its design, unusual for the park. No matter what emotions it recalls, the fountain and Cherry Hill are interesting places to visit. The hill itself is called this way because of the cherry trees surrounding it.
It is a circular space which in the past was served as watering trough for horses. Today you can still see horse-drawn carriages as an attraction. The fountain is easily recognizable by the glass globes placed at the top.
#6 Ladies Pavilion
Ladies Pavilion is good shelter from sun and rain situated near the Lake and very close to Hernshead rock. It is preferred spot for wedding ceremonies and photo shoot outs, because of its romantic antique style. The structure is built from cast iron, painted in white and brown. The floor is made from schist stones, which bring coolness in the summer.
In the past the pavilion was used as a transportation point for all visitors, who had to travel long distances to enjoy the park. Since then, it has been favorite place for having a rest, lunch or social gatherings.
#7 Pilgrim Hill
Pilgrim Hill together with Cedar Hill are the favorite areas of New Yorkers for sledding. Of course this applies only for winter season, but don’t wait for the winter to visit Pilgrim Hill. It is still a great area for picnics and other outdoor sports. You can play with children or just let them run freely.
And yet, if you go to Central Park in the cold months be aware that this spot can get quite overcrowded with enthusiasts to try some of the best slopes in NYC.
#8 Wollman Rink
Speaking of winter exercises, the other pinned up location in Central Park is Wollman Rink. It works from early morning to late after midnight and you can go and skate until April! Visitors spend many magical hours on the ice to the sound of music. There are lockers to keep you belongings, so you can spend there the whole day.
During the summer Wollman Rink becomes home to the Victorian Gardens Amusement Park – land of joyful rides, games and music. Many families spend there their weekends as entertainment for both adults and children are available. Tickets for the park are $8.00 in weekdays and $ 9.00 for the weekend. Every ride will cost you $ 4.00.
#9 Central Park Reservoir
This huge area of water surface with its 106 acre size covers one eighth of the park. The Reservoir collects millions of gallons of water and since the beginning of the 90’s it has been connected to NYC fresh water system. It is probably most famous with the jogging path 1.58 miles long which circles the water.
Many famous public figures and celebrities have ran in this path – Bill Clinton, Madonna and Jackie Onassis are some of them. In the earlier years eight feet high fence kept the visitors apart from the water for safety reasons. However it turned out to be quite ineffective and a big obstacle for visitors, who wanted to observe the picturesque view. In 2006 the fence was replaced with shorter steel fence with cast iron ornaments.
#10 Turtle Pond
The Turtle Pond is located in the middle of the park and it’s preferred by people, who seek serenity and relax. The pond is filled with drinking water as the place was once vast water reservoir. Today it is home of 5 species of turtles, including the red-eared turtle. Because of its fame, many people leave their turtle pets there, to live in natural habitat in the park.