Central Park Visitors Guide

Walk the Mall, eat at Tavern on the Green, and pay tribute to John Lennon

Aerial view of Central Park in New York City cityscape, New York, United States

JGI/Daniel Grill/Getty Images 

Central Park plays an essential role in the everyday lives of New Yorkers by providing 843 acres of paths, lakes, and open spaces to escape 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 "Greensward" 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 exploration. And it hosts many 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. 

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

    You can explore Central Park on your own, take a guided walking tour, or just relax and people-watch. Or you can take a ride on the carousel, have a picnic, row a boat around the lake, pay your respects to John Lennon at the Strawberry Fields memorial, or just amble around the peaceful and green scene.

  • 02 of 09

    Central Park Directions

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

    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
    • Fifth 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. There is also a printable version of the Central Park map you can take with you, and it's free.

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

    If you 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. They include JW Marriott Essex House New York, Ritz-Carlton Central Park, The Plaza, The Pierre, Park Lane, Trump International, Mandarin Oriental, Sherry Netherland, Excelsior, and Astor on the Park. All but the Excelsior and Astor on the Park are very expensive luxury hotels.

    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 and 76th streets
    • Angel in the Water Fountain, in Bethesda Terrace in the middle of Central Park at 72nd Street
    • Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, mid-park from 86th to 96th streets
    • The Mall, from 66th to 72nd Street, just east of mid-park
    • Strawberry Fields, on the West Side between 71st and 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.

  • 07 of 09

    Eating in Central Park

    Central Park Hot Dog vendor
    Juanmonino / Getty Images

    You'll find several iconic New York City places to grab a bite in Central Park.

    • Tavern on the Green: This legendary NYC restaurant has been reinvented numerous times.
    • Loeb Boathouse: Offers 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 cream. 
    • Pack a Picnic: Picnicking in Central Park is a time-honored way to have a delicious meal while people-watching. It's also a great idea to pack a picnic for Central Park if you're attending a concert. And for budget-minded travelers, a picnic lunch or dinner in Central Park helps you 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

    If you want some expert advice on exploring Central Park, take one of these Central Park tours:

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

    Check out these photos of Central Park before you go to get ready for your visit and help you decide what is most important to you on your visit.