Spending the Day in Central Park

With over 800 acres right in the middle of Manhattan, you can easily spend an entire day exploring Central Park. NYC tourists and locals alike can take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy all the park has to offer, including lakes, sprawling lawns, and fun activities. And while it would be impossible to see everything the park has to offer in just one day, here are a few spots you may want to make sure you visit on your Central Park trip:

Alice in Wonderland Sculpture
This whimsical sculpture, inspired by Lewis Carroll’s classic story. It is created by American sculptor Jose de Creeft, features Alice, the Mad Hatter, and White Rabbit. Over the years, its surface has been smoothed by the tiny hands of the children that love to climb this famous sculpture. Location: 75th Street, East Side

Central Park Zoo
A big hit with both native New-Yorkers and New York City tourists, the zoo is one of the Central Park’s activities that keeps visitors entertained for hours. The zoo has a variety of animals such as penguins, wolves, and monkeys, but one of the most popular exhibits is the sea lions. Tip: If you are there at 11:30am, 1:30pm, or 3:30pm, you’ll get to see the sea lions perform tricks for their food. If you are traveling with young children, the Tisch Children’s Zoo is a must-see as they can feed animals such as goats, sheep or cows. When heading from the main zoo to the children’s zoo, be sure to check out the George Delacorte Musical Clock which plays songs every half hour. Location: 63rd-66th Streets, East Side

The Lake
Weather permitting, rent one of the 100 available rowboats from Loeb Boathouse and take a relaxing ride around the 20-acre man-made lake. Or, work up an appetite and feast at the Loeb Boathouse lakeside restaurant and outdoor bar and watch the rowboats drift by. There is also a carry-out option if you’d like to picnic in the park. Location: 71st-78th Streets, Mid-park

Belvedere Castle
Built in 1869, the stone castle that sits on Vista Rock provides beautiful views of the Central Park and surrounding areas from its large terraces. Inside, learn about nature within the park at the Henry Luce Nature Center. You can check out a Discovery Kit, which includes binoculars and a field guide for exploring the natural habitats found in the park. Location: 79th Street, Mid-park

Great Lawn
From the castle, head over to the Great Lawn to people-watch, play a game of pickup Frisbee, or relax with a good book. The Great Lawn spawns 55 acres so even on the busiest days, you can still get your own patch of green. First-time Central Park visitors often marvel at the expanse of the lawn, which was overhauled in 1997 and closes every winter to restore the turf. The Great Lawn has hosted several large acts such as Simon and Garfunkel, Diana Ross, and Bon Jovi. Location: 79th-85th Street, Mid-Park

Conservatory Garden
If you need a true respite from New York City, The Conservatory Garden is the place to go in Central Park. This six-acre formal garden, divided into three smaller gardens (Italian, French, and English) can be accessed through the Vanderbilt iron gate that dates back to 1894. The garden is a designated Quiet Zone, which creates a calm and respectful atmosphere to view the beautiful flowers and foliage. Location: 104th-106th Street, East Side, or from within the park.

The Carousel
The Carousel boasts 57 horses that exemplify American folk art, making it one of the largest carousels in the country. It is also one of Central Park’s most favorite spots to visit by NYC tourists, with more than 250,000 riders per year! This is the fourth carousel to grace the park, with two of the previous ones burned by fire. The Central Park Conservancy is in the process of restoring each horse to keep the carousel as beautiful as the day it was built. Location: 65th Street, Mid-park

The Mall
The Mall, which features a quadruple row of American Elms, is one of the largest displays of these trees in the country. The wide, straight path that runs through this majestic elm canopy creates the perfect backdrop for pictures, which is why Central Park visitors usually flock here to get the perfect shot to remember their trip. The southern end of the path, also known as Literary Walk, contains 4 statues of famous writers, and a statue of Christopher Columbus. Location: 66th-72nd Streets, Mid-park

Bethesda Terrace
A park highlight for New York City tourists, Bethesda Terrace features the Bethesda Fountain with the Angel of Water statue on top. The fountain symbolizes the first fresh water system in New York City, and the lily in the angel’s left hand represents the purity of the water. The walls and pillars of the terrace are also decorated with sculptures that represent the seasons and times of day. Bethesda Terrace is a well-known meeting place in Central Park, making it a common place to find park performers as well. Location: 72nd St, Mid-park

Central Park hosts a number of various music concerts and theatre shows so you may be able to plan your visit around catching a show. The New York Philharmonic offers a free concert in the park in the summer, or check out The Metropolitan Opera’s Summer Recital Series. SummerStage at Rumsey Playfield, which was recently restored, has featured some of the most popular musicians. Location: Various, throughout the park

Tavern on the Green
No trip to Central Park is complete without having a meal at Tavern on the Green. This iconic landmark has been featured in countless films such as Ghostbusters, Beaches, and The Out-of-Towners. For a truly memorable experience, try a horse and carriage ride through the park followed by lunch or dinner at the restaurant available through Central Park Sightseeing at http://centralparksightseeing.com/Tavern-on-the-Green-with-Horse-and-Carriage. (The company also offers great Central Park Walking and Biking Tours). Or, if you happen to be visiting the park on a weekend, the brunch at Tavern on the Green can’t be beat! Location: 67th Street and Central Park West