8 attractions that can put visiting Central Park on top of your vacation itinerary
In the heart of Manhattan lies an 843-acre park. Central Park was established in 1857 and over the last 160 years has become the most visited urban park in the United States, according to Travel + Leisure magazine.
There is no entrance fee to visit the park and of the hundreds of attractions within or bordering it, many of them are inexpensive or free. A trip to New York City is not complete without visiting the park and, as a bright green jewel surrounded by gray streets and shiny skyscrapers, it gives visitors a necessary break from the full-scale urbanism of Manhattan.
A park for all ages
In addition to having wooded areas and green spaces, Central Park is very walker and cyclist friendly. On weekends, automobiles are not allowed anywhere in the park and efforts are underway to extend that restriction to other times.
Inside the park there are attractions open to the public that are unique. These include:
- Strawberry Fields. A 2.45-acre dedication to the memory of John Lennon. The iconic imagine mosaic has been the backdrop for memorial gatherings and vigils since its creation in 1985.
- Cleopatra’s Needle. Although controversy exists on how this ancient Egyptian obelisk ended up in Central Park, since 1881 it has been an integral part of the park’s attractions. The obelisk is made from red granite and towers almost 70 feet tall.
- Lakes. Central Park encompasses 7 different artificial lakes. The largest of these, the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir covers over 100 acres and reaches a depth of more than 40 feet.
- Sculptures. The park contains 29 sculptures with several being over a hundred years old. A visit to all the sculptures on the list could quickly take up most of a day’s visit to Central Park.
Central Park has many other attractions to entice even the most jaded traveler.
- The Central Park Carousel. The first carousel opened in Central Park in 1871. Although the current one is not the original, it still features hand-carved horses and is a major attraction in the park. The fee to ride the carousel is ridiculously low and the money that it brings in goes to renovation and upkeep of the attraction.
- Bethesda Fountain and Terrace. A beautiful combination of walkways, fountains and sculpture, the Bethesda Fountain is an architectural highlight of the park.
- The Central Park Zoo. Although modest when compared to other zoos, the Central Park Zoo has the added attraction of a petting zoo and theater that cater to their youngest visitors.
- Belvedere Castle. A miniature castle built upon Vista Rock has given visitors spectacular views of the park since it was built in 1869.
There are hundreds of other exhibits within the park and many more that surround it. Museums, art galleries and fine dining are all within walking distance of Central Park.
Getting around the park
Central Park runs from 59th Street to 110th Street and although there are walking paths running throughout, many visitors find that bicycling can be both quicker and easier on the feet. With most of the 843-acres accessible, it can be quite a workout to go from one attraction to another all-day long.
Bike tour of Central Park allow you to see the most important and impressive attractions while still giving you time to see the sights. Additionally, bikes can be rented to give you and your family better mobility during your visit to Central Park.