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Central Park, New York

4.0 stars


Shakespeare Garden

Not far from Belvedere Castle, and near the center of Central Park, is the pleasant Shakespeare Garden. It's designated as a quiet space, so there are no street performers allowed there and no music. You can talk, but it's meant to be an oasis within the oasis of Central Park. Not many people outside of the city may have heard about the garden, so make sure that you stop by; there are fewer tourists clogging the area like so many places in the park.

The park was designed and created in the 1910's. The entire area only has plants that are mentioned in Shakespeare's plays: roses, columbine, primrose and more. Throughout the garden are benches to sit and relax. There are also small bronze plaques with Shakespeare quotes that relate to flowers. It's a nice place to take a breath, in a way, and slow down a bit. I would go in spring and summer, because that is when most of the flowers are in bloom. [more ]

Delacorte Music Clock

One of the super cool things about Central Park is that it seems that everywhere you turn there is something fun and different to look at. One of those things is the Delacorte Music Clock. It's near the Central Park Zoo, and it's on the east side of the park. The bronze clock and sculptures date back to the 1930's, and it's a lot of fun. Between 8am and 5pm, every hour the 2 monkeys on top of the clock look as though they are striking the bell. Every half hour, nursery rhymes play and the various animals (goat, bear, hippo, kangaroo, and penguin) rotate and "dance" around the base of the clock.

It's also a way to know when Christmas is coming; after Thanksgiving, the clock starts playing holiday tunes! It's a great place to meet people, and it makes for a fun picture. And of course, kids love it, so definitely visit if you're there with family. Remember that Central Park is absolutely huge, and it's important to know all the different things there are to see there and know which ones you wouldn't want to miss and those that aren't as important. I'd put the clock down as a must see spot! [more ]

Belvedere Castle

There is a castle that's very nearly in the middle of Central Park. It is one of the highest points in the park, and it is the weather station. So if you hear weather info: temperature, visibility, humidity, etc. from Central Park, it's at the Belvedere Castle. It was designed in the 1860's and it's a whimsical and fairy tale-esque stone castle. It overlooks a pond that was partially covered in scum, which was not that impressive. Other than that, it was a great view. You can see out over the park and it's a good photo op. You can see the bandshell style stage where plays are put on in the park.

It's a nature observatory as well, though we weren't able to see that part. It's a good spot for bird-watching as well. Red tailed hawks fly over the city, which I didn't realize, and you can see them best from Belvedere Castle. It's a really pretty spot, but as many things in Central Park (and much of Manhattan!) it can get super busy and crowded.

The castle is open from 10am to 5pm. It's open every day but Monday. [more ]

Hans Christian Andersen statue in Central Park

One of my favorite books from my childhood is the collected volume of Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales given to me by my grandmother. So I was pleasantly surprised and excited to see the Hans Christian Andersen statue. It’s at 74th Street near Fifth Avenue, just west of Conservatory Water (one of the parks many ponds/water features).

The statue is of the writer holding an open book with the beginning line to The Ugly Duckling story. There is a small duck gazing up at the statue. The statue is made of bronze (I think) and it has been rubbed smooth in places as children and those who are children at heart (me!) have posed for photos. The statue was commissioned in the late 1950's and it has become an iconic statue in the park.

Apparently throughout the summer, there are readings of the author’s fairy tales near the statue, but I haven’t had the chance to be there for those. It’s a great meeting place and a must see spot for a lover of literature and fairy tales.
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The Central Park Reservoir is the largest water feature in the park. There is a popular running path around the reservoir; it's just over a mile and a half around. Technically the name of the reservoir is the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, but known just as "the reservoir". It is 40 feet deep and covers over 100 acres. It can be found between 86th and 96th Streets.

It is generally a safe place, but I wouldn't go there at night by myself. I would say that about a lot of places in New York; generally safe, but it's better to err on the side of caution.

The reservoir is a great place to see the skyline of the city from a slightly different perspective. It's definitely a place where locals go running and walking, so while it is popular with tourists as well, it's a place to be around "real" New Yorkers! It's a pretty sight and a nice change of pace to be around trees and water yet still close to all the excitement of the city.

The main entrance for the running path is the 90th St. and 5th Ave gate entrance. [more ]

Alice in Wonderland statue

The whimsical and beautiful Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park can be found near East 74th Street and near Conservatory Water (one of the many water features in Central Park). The statue is of the un-birthday party celebrated in the delightful children's tale by Lewis Carroll. It was commissioned by a wealthy philanthropist in honor of his wife.

While the statue is of the un-birthday party from Alice in Wonderland, the script engraved on the statue is actually from the poem "The Jabberwocky". The statue is 11 feet tall and it is a popular place for photo oppotunities and it makes for a good meeting place.

The statue has been rubbed smooth and shiny in places; it is literally a well-loved statue! Definitely something to see! A unique and fun piece of art in the wonderful Central Park. [more ]

An autumn stroll in Central Park

Central Park rarely needs much of an introduction. Those who are looking to visit Manhattan will already know at least a little about the park, and those who are not will probably still have heard about the park from various American TV series or films.

My visit to Central Park was timed with the christmas/winter season when an ice rink is opened in the park. I'm not actually the biggest fan of ice-skating, but found it hard to resist the idea of giving it another go in such an iconic area of the city. I treated myself to a large gooey cup of hot chocolate after my balancing act on the ice, which I really recommend. It kept me nice and warm, tasted delicious and wasn't particularly expensive either. Several drinks carts are dotted around the park from where you can buy a variety of drinks. I imagine these turn into ice-cream stands in the summer months!

I was amazed at the immense size of the park - large lakes, sports training areas, restaurants and even a zoo are contained in a place that in any other city would just be a normal park. I was also able to notice a few areas which I had seen from films, which felt kind of cool and refreshed my excitement of being in such a dazzling city. A middle-aged guy walking his dog also came over for a random chat. I was initially cautious but he really just wanted to be friendly, asked a little about where I was from (he had heard and liked my english accent!) and welcomed me to the city!

I also walked through the park on my way to the National History Museum through the Strawberry Fields memorial section of the park. This is a living memorial to the late Beatles band member John Lennon. Alas, the Beatles were before my time, yet that didn't stop me from contemplating about the historical significance that the memorial holds in his memory. I liked that an artist had recently placed rose petals in a peace-sign at the site.

Central Park is definitely more than just a park but you really do need to plan what you want to do before going there. It is such a large place that simply walking through the park can become tedious, and dare I say it; boring. I spent half a day here, which was a good amount of time for me but I wanted to get out of there before dark. I do not recommend the park after dark. It is really not a myth that undesirables lurk here each night with the final setting of the sun! [more ]

Central Park overview

Central Park was completely designed and landscaped; there is none of it that was a natural part of the landscape. Though that isn't obvious now; the park has become an integral part of New York. The tall shade trees, rocks, ponds and loads of unique bridges are all in the shadow of Manhattan's skyscrapers. The park itself, from above, is a bright green spot amidst the greys and blacks of the city.

It's surreal to walk off of Fifth Avenue into tree lined pathways and rolling hills. The park itself absorbs some of the carbon released by the city; I like to think that by visiting the park, I'm helping support the environment, even if it's in a small way. In many ways, it's a huge relief. I love urban parks, particularly when they're well-designed and when there are parts of them where you don't realize you're in a city. To be fair, that's near impossible in New York with the skycrapers, but it's definitely a very different world within the park amongst the trees then it is out on the streets of Manhattan. It's a nice way to escape some of the bustle (though the park can also get crowded in popular areas - more tips coming soon) of the city.

There are loads of pathways through the park, and it is a popular place to run and walk. It's generally safe, though I wouldn't walk/run there alone after dark. [more ]

Hyde Park is much better than Central Park!

I'm going to be brave here. If you skip Central Park then you won't really be missing a heck of a lot!

I hiked across it a couple times and barely found anything interesting to look at. The nature isn't all that great for someone who is even moderately well travelled and the services offered there have limitations in terms of when they are open! Plan ahead if you are going to do something there and make sure what you want to do is available.

Hyde Park in London is much, much better. With every few steps there seemed to be a memorial for someone or something to read, which is what I like about parks myself. With Central Park there were tributes and statues which gave photo opportunities, but they weren't all that common.

Even the street performers that I came across were totally lame!

Use this park if you want some recreational exercise, like a leisurely stroll. Don't expect too much! [more ]

Central Park is a lot more than green spaces

I love Central Park but not exactly for the same reasons than others do. While a lot of New Yorkers are fond of the Great Lawn and other open spaces, I prefer the lakes, the rocks and the hidden trails. Central Park is huge: whatever you’re looking to see here, you will need to plan it well. If you just want to walk around, then any time is good (the evenings are especially great), but if you want to visit a special area or attraction (the zoo, the botanical garden, the rental boat area), you’ll need to find out the opening times and whether or not you need a ticket in advance.

Central park is especially beautiful in winter, when you can skate, cross-country ski or simply take in the sights. [more ]

The Great Lawn, Central Park

Ever since I saw the sight of the Great Lawn in a movie I have wanted to see it for myself. I’m truly in love with the Great Lawn and I know for sure I’ll never stop loving this part of Central Park. Just walking across the Great Lawn and looking at all the mid Manhattan skyscrapers is amazing. I recommend going there to anyone visiting New York City. No matter your age I think you will get something good out of it; the view, the surroundings, the people, playing sports, having a picnic… The choices are many. [more ]

Overwhelming in some ways

This place is so much bigger than it looks in the movies. You can't even imagine a park this big, you have to see it to believe it. I guess it has to be that big to give the illusion of peace and serenity within a city the size of New York, and they've done a good job. I understand it's allegedly a high-crime area, but I certainly didn't feel at all threatened or worried to be walking through there alone (though it has to be said I went just after lunchtime). I guess as parks go it's a nice one; it's not particularly special in terms of greenery, but it's worth it just to say you've been there. [more ]

Park: Central Park

Central Park in New York has become an important character in many movies and therefore it was something I had to see. It is a big park with many bridges and benches. I loved the small trees but also the old ones, with interesting shapes. The small bridges made the park romantic and the lanes were filled with people just walking around. I didn’t see the roller bladders and the people jogging but then again maybe it happens only in the movies. The Museum of Art was closed but I did see the Great Lake and the pond. The one I liked best was Balto’s statue. It’s a good thing the bridges are all different because I didn’t get lost. [more ]

Central Park Hostel

I found this hostel by looking on the internet before our trip. They take reservations, which is important even for a hostel, because in New York you never know when one is going to be full. They are also reputable and have been in business for a long time, so you don’t have to worry about getting scammed or worrying for your safety. They offer you a clean bed and I ended up staying a community room…this is common when you’re staying in a hostel. It just means that there are sets of bunk beds and you will be in a room with strangers. It’s a bit scary, but I slept with all of my belongings firmly lodged in my pillowcase. You can rent a locker here, and I would recommend that if you will be in town for more than a day and will be leaving your things unattended. The showers are okay, but not great. Bring shower shoes if you’ll be staying in any hostel. [more ]

Central Park, New York City

I was shocked at the scope of Central Park. It is huge. You could probably spend an entire day walking through and wandering around. There are even attractions inside the park, such as the Central Park Zoo. I stayed away from the park at night, because you never know who could be lurking…but I stayed in the Central Park Hostel, so in the morning on my walk back downtown, my girlfriend and I walked through the park and were amazed at the trees and bridges…and how truly scenic the park was. I couldn’t help but notice a dozen places that we walked by where some of my favorite movies were filmed, like Sweet Charity! NYC is great for movie moment spotting! [more ]

Central Park, Manhattan

Central Park is located between 59th and 110th Streets and 5th to 8th Avenues. For obvious reasons it’s advisable to avoid night walks in the park, but during the day it's life and creativity everywhere. I think almost all New Yorker’s would say that Central Park is the best park in the world. At least it’s one of the most famous ones. We met joggers, walkers, people who were sunbathing or having picnic on the lawn, families on their way to the zoo, swimmers, baseball players, street artists, saxophone players, musicians… I love Central Park because the park is for everyone and there are so many things to see and do. [more ]

Central Park West 72nd St

The Midwest of Central Park is by far the most romantic part of New York City. The city that never sleeps has its share of fancy restaurants and horse drawn carriage tours, but my favorite place to take a date has always been the Bethesda Fountain and boat tours of this central location. Found in the middle of the park off 72nd street, I found that while there are many places great for relaxing and reading throughout Central Park, this area is best for walking. The stroll into that part of the park usually starts at Strawberry Fields, which is always full of hippies playing music, and surprisingly few of the homeless people panhandling that I found everywhere else. The path from Strawberry Fields leads to the Bethesda Fountain, a beautiful location that could be pulled directly out of a European town square, where I have seen everything from marriages to magazine photo shoots taking place. Needless to say, it is a very romantic spot. Surrounding the fountain during the day is a plethora of entertainers offering everything from paper roses to musical shows, and sitting on the edge of the fountain itself offers lovely views of the nearby waterway and dozens of boaters rowing along it. As I have continued along the path heading east through the park, I noticed the boatyard from which the row boats originated. Surrounded by a large boathouse restaurant that offers romantic waterside tables, the boat house offers cheap yet lovely boat rides (for the first hour, at least). The waterways took me all over the park, and I was able to confirm once again how beautiful Central Park can be, and how amazing it is that a park in the middle of a city as dirty as New York can be taken care of so well. While this area of Central Park clears out in the evening, after a long day I was able to go to the opera at the nearby Lincoln Center and have a nice dinner at the nearby Tavern on the Green restaurant. So if you’re looking for a great place for a romantic afternoon that’ll cost you next to nothing, try a stroll through Central Park West. [more ]

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