Row A Boat Around The Lake
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Head to Loeb Boathouse and you can rent a boat to row around the Lake, Central Park’s second largest body of water .
Boat rentals are charged in 15-minute increments and require a cash deposit. Boats are available for rent from April through November, weather permitting. Each rowboat can hold up to four passengers.
If you’re looking for something more indulgent, gondola rides are available but you’ll need to reserve in advance.
Boating is a way to get a closer view of waterfowl that are hard to see from the shore, including the park’s famous egrets, herons, and loons.
The Conservatory Water was inspired by a model boat pond in Paris.
Even if you don’t have a model boat of your own, you can rent one or join the crowd of observers enjoying the model sailboats on the Conservatory Water on Central Park’s east side from 72nd to 75th Streets. Conservatory Water holds its boating season from April to October each year. Races are held on Saturdays, beginning around 10:00 am.
Nearby, you can also check out the Alice in Wonderland Sculpture or do a little birdwatching.
Best Things To Do In Central Park
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Take a romantic paddle around the Lake or let someone else do the work during a Venetian gondola ride at Loeb Boathouse . While you’re there, absorb the picturesque view of the Lake at the Central Park Boathouse Restaurant, for fineif priceyfare like fish, crab cakes, salads and an assortment of wines.
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Animal lovers will dig the cute critters at the Tisch Children’s Zoo, adjacent to the main zoo, where you can also get up close and personal with pot-bellied pigs and goats. In the Central Park Zoo itself, coo over the daily feeding of the sea lions and penguins, and watch snow monkeys leap playfully between rocks.
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Thirty-six acres of winding trails, rocks and streams remain here, seemingly waiting to be discovered. It’s also the city’s primo bird-watching spot, where you can view many of the park’s 230 species. Fun fact: Everything you see is man-made, dating back to 1859even the waterfalls can be turned on and off.
- Things to do
- Walks and tours
- Parks and gardens
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- Monuments and memorials
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History Of Central Park
Central Park was designed as an urban oasis to give New Yorkers an escape from the crowded city. The original design for New York, aid out by the City Commissioners in 1811 did not include a park.
Between that time and the 1850s, the city of New York quadrupled in size. As the city got more and more crowded, New Yorkers started seeking a respite.
Landscaped cemeteries became a popular place to stroll and picnic because they were among the only public green spaces in the city. It was time for a change in New York.
In 1853 the city purchased the land that would become Central Park for $5 million.
To ensure that they were getting the best design possible, they held a design competition to determine what the future park would look like.
The design team of Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux won the completion with a design called The Greensward Plan.
Even though the Greensward Plan was meant to look very naturalistic, this 843-acre park is entirely man-made.
The plan entailed clearing land as long as 2.5 miles from 59th Street to 110th Street and is 0.5 miles or wide between 5th Avenue and Central Park West.
The layout plan encompassed the use of 843 acres right in the middle of Manhattan.
The park was a massive undertaking. Construction began in 1857 and was completed in 1873.
Over 1500 residents had to be cleared from the area, particularly in Seneca Village, home to the Seneca Native American tribe.
We hope it has now become one of your favorite places.
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Excellent Interesting And Thorough
I was a little skeptical to pay for the full tour at first but Im so glad we did! It was so interesting and engaging. We really appreciated that we could pause the tour to make additional stops or have lunch. It started pouring rain on #38 but we were having so much fun we persevered til the end! There were 42 different stops! Thanks for a great day, we loved it. I wish we had time for the other tours too, but well save those til our next adventure!
Take In A Free Concert Or Play
Every summer, usually in mid-June, the New York Philharmonic puts on a free performance in Central Park’s Great Lawn.
This is one of the most awaited events of the summer and tens of thousands of New Yorkers show up with blankets and picnic baskets.
If you can make it, this is a quintessential New York experience.
Shakespeare in the Park
Each summer, the Public Theater hosts this free festival in which two Shakespeare plays are performed for the public at the Delacorte Theater.
Although it is not easy to get tickets, you can be sure to read our post 5 Ways to Get Free Tickets to Shakespeare in the Park.
Summer Stage is a summer concert series held in central park.
It began in the Naumberg Bandshell in 1968 and grew into its new venue, just south of the 72nd Street Traverse in the middle of the park.
There are dozens of concert events throughout the summer.
Check our Summerstage post for the annual line-ups and dates.
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Where To Stay In New York
Weve stayed all over the city during our trips to NYC. Here are some of our favourite hotels:
- Courtyard Soho: for its downtown location and price.
- Pod 51: an awesome and funky option close to the Rockefeller Center
- Renaissance Times Square: for its Times Square location, spacious rooms and the stunning R Lounge bar. You can have breakfast overlooking the iconic Times Square and enjoy cocktails in the evenings overlooking the lights!
- Hi NYC: on the Upper West Side is a great hostel option
Top Ten Attractions In Central Park
From Columbus Circle to Grand Army Plaza to Duke Ellington Circle the park features gardens, world famous performance venues, historic statuary, lakes, ponds and pools. There are more than thirty bridges and arches, two iconic restaurants, a wildlife refuge, a marionette theater and a real life castle not to mention the Central Park Zoo. Trying to pick a top ten from the myriad of choices is next to impossible, but here is our list of the Top Ten Attractions in Central Park.
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New York City: Central Park Bicycle Rental
Explore New York City by bike with this rental package. Rent a bike from NYC’s largest bike rental and bike touring company. Located in Central Manhattan, right next to Central Park, it is easy to explore one of New York’s most popular attractions and premier biking area. All bikes are a late model for the current year. Your rental includes the bicycle, a helmet, a bike lock and optional front and rear lights if you will be riding at night. You can also add bike baskets and water at the rental store. The bike shop is located near Central Park, in a location which makes it very easy and convenient for you to pick-up and drop off your bike.
Experience Shakespeare In The Park
With 843 acres to explore, Central Park is a wonderful place for aimless wandering.
Wear comfy shoes, bring a map and enjoy Olmstead and Vaux’s beautifully designed park. Take time to enjoy both the intensely manicured areas of Central Park, as well as the wilder places, like The Ramble, the lush woodland area of the park.
Central Park is dog-friendly, so if you are visiting with your best friend, the park is the place to go. Most areas require that you leash your dog although there are times and locations for off-leash romping.
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Hotels Nearby The Park
If being right by Central Park is a must for your stay, you might want to consider the Upper West or Upper East Side.
Take a look at our post 25 Cheap Hotels In New York City which includes some excellent hotels right near the park.
Upper West Side
- Quick access to The American Museum of Natural History, New York Historical Society and Lincoln Center.
- Many budget-friendly accommodation options, including hostels, inexpensive hotels and Air B& B rentals.
- You have multiple subway options. The 1,2 and 3 trains run on Broadway and the B and C trains run on Central Park West. These lines can take you to a number of destinations all over the city.
- Wide variety of restaurants and bars, including some lively nightlife along Amsterdam Avenue.
Upper East Side
- Quick access to Museum Mile, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim.
- Nice walk or a quick subway ride to 5th Avenue shopping.
- The 4, 5 and 6 trains run along Lexington Avenue on the Upper East Side. Though these trains can get a little crowded during rush hour, they are great for getting to a lot of NYC hotspots.
- Good nightlife along 1st and 2nd Avenue with a wide variety of restaurants and bars!
The Mall And Literary Walk
A lovely area for walking, the Mall is a straight, wide pathway running beneath a canopy of huge trees in the south end of Central Park. This spot offers a peaceful retreat from the busy streets of New York City and a chance to enjoy a little nature.
Even in winter, when the park is covered in snow, this is a great place for a stroll. Joining the Mall is the Literary Walk, lined with statues of literary giants that include Shakespeare, Robert Burns, and Sir Walter Scott, as well as others.
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Go On An Interactive Scavenger Hunt
Peppered with fun facts and interesting tidbits, interactive scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to explore a new destination. And this scavenger hunt in Central Park did not disappoint! In about 2 hours, youll stroll through Strawberry Fields, storm the Belvedere Castle, and catch the rabbit that eluded Alice in Wonderland. The scavenger hunt through the public park is an easy 2.5 miles and can be completed at your own pace.
Discovering More About Seneca Village
Although we have limited knowledge of what life was like in Seneca Village, there has been ongoing work to learn more about its residents and their lives. In 2011, archaeologists from Columbia University and The City University of New York conducted a dig of the site. They uncovered artifacts such as an iron tea kettle, a roasting pan, a stoneware beer bottle, fragments of Chinese export porcelain, and a small shoe with a leather sole and fabric upper. These items have helped us piece together what life was like for the villages residents.
Despite its short history of only 32 years, Seneca Village is understood as a tight-knit community that served as a stabilizing and empowering force in uncertain times. Learn more about the history of Seneca Village, its property owners, and what New York City was like at this time here.
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What To Do In Central Park
This tour covers about 5 miles , so you may want to split your visit in half.
We have designed this tour to give you the options and directions you need to stop at 79th Street or continue north.
Lastly, check out our GPS-enabled audio tours of Central Park.
You can also download a PDF version of our Central Park Self Guided Tour.
Find Peace In The North Meadow
Similar to the Conservatory Garden, the 23-acre North Meadow is often overlooked because its located in the north end of the park.
What a pity that is, especially considering this is one of the most relaxing spots in Central Park. Youll find rocky outcroppings peppered between sugar maples, dogwoods and hickory trees bordering a pristine meadow pronounced by a hilly landscape.
This is where locals go to escape the congestion and crowds of the more popular Sheeps Meadow area. Its a great place to let kids run around or simply to people watch.
Theres also a great dog run in the area thats perfect for letting fido burn some energy.
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Cool Facts About Central Park New York
Central Park is perhaps one of the biggest highlights of New York City and its been standing for longer than you think! Even if youve been before, or visit regularly, there are still lots of things for you to learn about the park. Here are some fun facts about Central Park to help you get started.
Ride The Central Park Carousel
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Central Park has had a carousel since 1871 when it was powered by a horse and mule. It is said that the live mule or a horse was hidden beneath the carousel and would stop and start when the operator tapped on the wooden floor. Today’s carousel has been there since 1950 and was originally built for a trolley terminal outside of Coney Island, before being moved to Central Park.
The Central Park Carousel is entirely hand carved and hand painted and features the largest hand-carved figures ever made. Rides on the Central Park are $3 each for both adults and children.
The Central Park Carousel is located mid-park at approximately 65th Street and Sixth Avenue.
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Admire A Piece Of Ancient History
Besides Belvedere Castle, Cleopatra’s Needle might be the most iconic historical landmark in Central Park. It’s certainly the oldest.
The 69-feet-tall, 220-ton granite monolith was created in 1425 BCE in Heliopolis, Egypt, to celebrate 30 years of Pharaoh Thutmose III’s reign. It’s covered in Egyptian hieroglyphs depicting ancient military victories and more. The Central Park obelisk is one of three, all sharing the same name, the others located in London and Paris.
Cleopatra’s Needle made its way to Central Park in 1881, having previously been erected in Heliopolis and Alexandria. It stands between the Great Lawn and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Imagine Mosaic Strawberry Fields
The Imagine Mosaic in Central Parks Strawberry Fields is an internationally funded tribute to John Lennon, ex-Beatle and long time New York City resident. On December 8th, 1980 Mr. Lennon was shot dead as he entered his home at the Dakota Apartment Building at 72nd St. and Central Park West. John Lennon had taken many walks with his wife and young son through the friendly confines of nearby Central Park. Long a favorite son of his adopted city John Lennon wasnt simply New Yorks Beatle, he was, for many, the embodiment of the spirit on which city had been built. One half urbane cynic and one half romantic dreamer, he unabashedly embraced the disparate parts which, as every New Yorker knows, combine to form a uniquely gifted, passionate individual. And city. The Imagine Mosaic has become a gathering place for fans of Mr.Lennon from all over the world and it is here that you can almost always find someone strumming a guitar to the tune of one of his many song.
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Old Time Carousel Horse
Originally crafted in 1908 by Solomon Stein and Harry Goldstein, the current Carousel is one of the nation’s largest merry-go-rounds, featuring 57 hand-carved horses and two decorative chariots. While still in working condition, it is over 100 years old and has undergone many rounds of repair and maintenance.
In 1982, a donation from Alan and Katherine Stroock went to the cause and the Central Park Conservancy also restored the surrounding area and plaza with an upgrade in 1990. Currently, the organization is still working to make sure each individual horse is also restored.
Central Park: Private Horse
Pass by many historical landmarks of Central Park on a horse-drawn carriage. This is the perfect activity for a romantic date, or a fun outing with friends or family.Cimb into a lavishly-decorated carriage with plush seating for a ride through Central Park. With the clip-clop of the horses’ hooves in the background, you will visit the cascading Angel of the Waters Sculpture, as well as many other famous sights in the park.With a knowledgeable driver to tell you stories about the park’s past, you will cruise by the Dairy, where New York’s children once came to get fresh milk. View the horses on the carousel, and pass by the statue of William Shakespeare. At the Bethesda Fountain you can pause to snap memorable photos, before you head towards Cherry Hill.Head to the top of the hill and see the Imagine mosaic at Strawberry Fields, and the John Lennon memorial. Clop by the English lawn bowling court, and admire the bust of Italian philosopher Giuseppe Mazzini. You can then enjoy views of the legendary restaurant, the Tavern on the Green.
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Central Park Five: The True Story Behind When They See Us
One spring evening in 1989, a group of around 30 teenagers were hanging out in Central Park, New York.
Some of them were causing serious trouble – including badly hurting others in the park and harassing homeless people.
The same night, a 28-year-old white woman, Trisha Meili, had been out jogging in the park.
She was found beaten and raped and was in a coma for 12 days – and in that time, the case of the Central Park Jogger would grip New York City.
Five black and Hispanic boys, aged between 14 and 16, would be found guilty and jailed for the crime.
They became known as the Central Park Five.
But they never committed the crime.
The Central Park Five were Kevin Richardson, 14, Raymond Santana, 14, Antron McCray, 15, Yusef Salaam, 15, and 16-year-old Korey Wise.
Richardson and Santana were the first to be taken in by police, on reports of intimidating behaviour and muggings.
McCray, Salaam and Wise were taken in the following day – Wise wasn’t considered a suspect at the time but wanted to offer moral support to Salaam.
Focus soon shifted to the jogger Trisha Meili, and the five boys were interrogated for at least seven hours without their parents, before four made video-taped confessions to detectives.
All admitted they touched or restrained Meili while one or more of the others assaulted her.
As the DNA evidence from semen found at the scene didn’t match any of the five boys, prosecutors relied solely on the initial interrogations.