Its been a busy few weeks, that aside its time to talk about one of the undoubtedly best parts of NYC.
Hailing from the UK, it is easy to take green spaces for granted where big cities are surrounded by miles and miles of open countryside; at least for the moment! Even with this being the case, nowhere I have ever visited has the importance and impact of green spaces been so apparent than Central Park. It is so easy to be swept away by the big city and the wonderful architecture it has to offer but one step into Central Park is like stepping into another place altogether. The surreal feeling you get from wandering through the park knowing that you in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world is second to none.
The park itself is as much a part of the city as the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty and is the epitome of an urban oasis which succeeds in providing a effective contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city. In simple terms, the park is a must visit for anyone who ventures to the big apple. As Central Park has so much to offer the problem is deciding what to do and when. From our own experiences we have been fortunate with the weather when visiting and as it plays a huge part in your visit, be prepared! That being said the very magic of the place results in a good visit whatever the weather.
Now that you’ve heard the spiel, here’s a list of the best places and things to do we have done so far…….
1. People watching and generally relaxing
Not everyone’s cup of tea but if the weather allows it doesn’t get any better than finding a spot and taking a break from your day to sit in the park and watch whats going on around you. There are innumerable places in the park to do this, whether its watching fancy dogs walk by with strange haircuts at Conservatory Water, watching first time rowers from Bow Bridge or just relaxing on The Mall. As anywhere in the world if its a nice day you notice how busy the park gets as tourists and New Yorker’s alike flock to the park for a bit of R&R.
2. If there’s snow, Go! and Ice Skate
If you are lucky enough for it to snow when you visit the city; or unlucky enough depending on your plans! the park is beautiful under a white blanket and normally not as busy. If like me, you live in a temperate climate where snow is as common as a lottery win the idea of ice skating in a winter wonderland is a good one. Snow or not, ice skating is definitely worth doing and recommend the Wollman Rink as a good place to do this; but remember to get there early so avoid the queues.
3. Horse & Carriage ride through the park
This item is something high up on most peoples lists and its there for a reason. Aside from any moral concerns you may have, taking a ride is an ideal way to see some of the Southern parts of the park especially if you only have a short visit planned. The drivers are knowledgeable and add to the experience by describing different park sites and history; we liked the reference to where the snowball fight in Elf was filmed!
4. Visiting the Bridges and Fountains
If you’re feeling a bit guilty from the enjoying the local cuisine, a walkabout the park visiting the various bridges and fountains is a good way to get a bit more activity back into your day. Our chosen path has always been to start at the South end of the park on 59th Street and walk up to Gapstow Bridge which is idyllic below the ever growing skyscrapers on 57th Street. From there you can join The Mall via the road crossing just past the Dairy House visitors centre, The Mall itself is good place for a break on one of the benches stretching along the tree-lined route. Once you reach the top of The Mall you arrive at one of my favourite places, the Bethesda Arcade, as a bit of a construction nerd the arcade is picturesque with its steps and arches. (Also a good place to shelter if its raining!)
Once you are there, you can see the Bethesda fountain in all its glory and overlook The Lake on your way up to Bow Bridge; undoubtedly the most famous bridge in the park. Get there early to have the bridge to yourself, or at least less busy and watch out for marriage proposals!
A tip – If getting a good photo is a must then catch the B or C Train to 72nd street to enter level with this part of the park before it gets busy.
Whilst this post has merely scratched the surface of visiting Central Park I hope that this has given an amount of insight into some of the reasons why visiting the park is a must for any NYC visit. We can’t wait to go back next year and start exploring the Northern parts of the park and the surrounding neighbourhoods.
Please feel free to comment if you found this helpful.