Central Park Visitors Guide

Everything You Need to Plan Your Visit to Central Park

Central Park plays an essential role in the everyday lives of New Yorkers by providing 843 acres of paths, lakes and open spaces for escaping the din and chaos of the surrounding city. The design for the park was conceived by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux in 1857, who submitted their "Greenswald Plan" for Central Park during a contest organized by the Central Park Commission. When Central Park first opened in the winter of 1859 it was the first artificially landscaped park in the United States. Olmstead and Vaux's design integrated formal and pastoral elements throughout the park, offering visitors everything from formal walkways like The Mall and Literary Walk to the wild, woodsy area of the Ramble.

Visitors to New York City are often impressed with its beauty and size, making it a wonderful place to enjoy a bit of relaxation and get a better sense of what it's like to live in New York City. It's a great place for picnicking, listening to music and...MORE exploration with many fun, free events, particularly in the summer. Take a look at this suggested itinerary for spending one day on the West Side to make the most of your Central Park visit. You might even want to check out some of NYC's other great parks!

  • 01 of 09
    The Loeb Boathous on The Lake
    ••• Patti McConville/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

    Wondering just what to do when you visit Central Park? Whether you're looking to explore on your own, take a guided tour or just relax and people-watch, check out these great ideas for things to do in Central Park.

  • 02 of 09

    Central Park Directions

    Subway entrance Central Park
    ••• Ann Oro/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Wondering how to get to Central Park? Central Park is quite large, but these directions for getting to Central Park by subway or on foot should help you find your way.

    Subways:

    • B, C - 72nd Street; 81st Street; 86th Street; 96th Street; 103rd Street; 110th Street
    • 2, 3 - Central Park North/110th Street
    • N, R, W - 59th Street
    • A, B, C, D, 1 - 59th Street/Columbus Circle

    Central Park Boundaries

    • 59th Street on the South
    • 110th Street on the North
    • Central Park West on the West
    • 5th Avenue on the East
  • 03 of 09

    Central Park Map

    Central Park and Liberty Tower
    ••• Madhan Karthikeyan/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Central Park is filled with many sights to see and lots of winding paths, so you'll be very happy to have a Central Park map with you when you visit Central Park. There is even a printable version of the Central Park map you can bring with you and it's free!

  • 04 of 09
    Central Park - Essex House and more
    ••• Ed Coyle/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

    Want Central Park to be at the heart of your visit to New York City? Consider staying at one of these New York City hotels with rooms overlooking Central Park.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09
    New York - Alice Statue (Central Park)
    ••• Alonso Javier Torres/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Central Park is home to a number of well-known sculptures and attractions, including:

    • Central Park Zoo
    • Alice in Wonderland Statue - north of the Conservatory Water, near East 75th/76th Streets
    • Angel in the Water Fountain - located in Bethesda Terrace in the middle of Central Park at 72nd Street
    • Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir - mid-park from 86th-96th Streets
    • The Mall - from 66th - 72nd Streets just east of mid-park
    • Strawberry Fields - on the West Side between 71st/72nd Streets
  • 06 of 09
    SummerStage Presents: 'Beautiful: Carole King Musical' Songs In Concert
    ••• Astrid Stawiarz / Stringer / Getty Images

    Central Park hosts a wide variety of different events throughout the year, particularly in the summer. Adding one of these Central Park concerts or events to your New York City itinerary is a great way to take a break from the usual tourist activities and experience a taste of life in New York City.

    Central Park Concerts and Events:

  • 07 of 09

    Eating in Central Park

    Central Park Hot Dog vendor
    ••• Juanmonino / Getty Images
    • Tavern On The Green - this iconic NYC restaurant has been reinvented numerous times
    • Loeb Boathouse - both casual and more formal options near the lake
    • There are also a variety of vendors throughout Central Park selling hot dogs, pretzels, beverages and ice creams. 
    • Pack A Picnic - Picnicking in Central Park is a wonderful way to enjoy a delicious meal and fantastic people watching. It's also a great idea to pack a picnic for Central Park if you're attending a concert in Central Park. And for budget-minded travelers, a picnic lunch or dinner in Central Park can be a great way to save money and have a great experience at the same time.
  • 08 of 09

    Central Park Tours

    Central Park bicyclists
    ••• Smart Destinations/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    Want a hand exploring Central Park? Consider taking one of these Central Park tours:

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09
    untermeyer fountain
    ••• Ralph Hockens/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Want to take a virtual visit to Central Park? Check out these Central Park pictures to prepare yourself for your visit or to help you remember your visit to Central Park.