Below you will find a list of all major attractions located in Central Park. Each attractions is ranked by popularity and accessibility. You will also find various interesting facts about Central Park and small tips and tricks.
Central Park remains the most filmed location in the entire world! Of course, any production is required to first obtain a permit by the park department prior to filming. Which can cost a lot of money!
Fun Fact #1
There is only one straight path inside the entire park, called the Mall. It is also one of the most famous sights in Central Park.
Fun Fact #2
In 2002, scientists discovered a new kind of centipede in Central Park. The newly discovered, 82 legged animal is so unique that it required the creation of a entirely new genus.
Fun Fact #3
Central Park was built on the so-called Manhattan Schist. In order to design the park and blast all the rock, the city used gunpowder. As a matter of fact, more gunpowder was used when building Central Park than all the gunpowder later used at the battle of Gettysburg.
Fun Fact #4
Believe it or not, Central Park is larger than the country of Monaco! Measuring 843 acres, Central Park is approximately 300 acres larger than the principality of Monaco.
Fun Fact #5
There are more than 9,000 benches in Central Park. For a $10,000 donation, you can adopt a bench in Central Park. The park will allow you to place a personalized plague and write whatever you want on it.
Fun Fact #6
Check out this cool poster from centralpark.org. If you are a big fan of the park, check out their website for more information.
Alexander Hamilton is one of the Founding Father of the US. The statue that was place in the Park was carved by Carl H. Conrads in 1880, and was donated by one of Hamilton’s sons – John C. Hamilton.
The easiest way to see his portrait is to just take a look at a $10 bill. Considered to be a legal and financial mastermind, he is credited for introducing the US dollar, as well as establishing the National bank and the US Treasury.
He was George Washington’s most trusted confidant during the American war of Independence.
Hamilton was fatally shot in a duel by his political opponent – Vice president (to be) Aaron Burr. He is buried in Trinity Church.
Alexander Hamilton is the main protagonist in Broadway megahit “Hamilton” by author Lin- Manuel Miranda.
It is one of the most popular shows on Broadway, winning numerous Tony Awards, a Grammy Award, and even a Pulitzer.
Alice in Wonderland
Central Park is an amazing place for people of all ages, full of places and “characters” that can feel close to literally everyone!
Alice of Wonderland is probably the most famous fairytale character taking residence in Central Park. She has been around since 1959. She is depicted in bronze, having a tea party hosted by the Mad Hatter.
They are on a giant mushroom. Alice is in the center, the Mad Hatter oversees the preparations on her left, while the White Rabbit checks his pocket watch, probably to see if the guests are running late.
The sculpture was created by Spanish-born sculpture José de Creeft.
There’s an inscription on the base, quoting “Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe.” It’s from another piece of Lewis Carroll art – “The Jabberwocky”, a “nonsense poem”.
Balto is a four-legged hero and somewhat of a pop culture icon. In January 1925, the small Alaskan town of Nome suffered by diphtheria (diftheeria) outbreak. The disease mostly struck children and was spreading very quickly. The illness could easily be contained with a certain antitoxin, but the town doctors were out of it, so it was threatening the lives of thousands within and out of the town.
Doctors and town authorities decided to call for help from Anchorage, but this was a mission (nearly) impossible because it was in the middle of the winter.The only way to provide the required medicine was by dogsleds. More than twenty sleds have ventured, and among them was Gunnar Kasson with his team leader Balto – an Alaskan malamute.
The whole story spread all over the US. The whole country was watching closely this race with....
If you’re wondering why is there a castle in the center of Central Park, then it’s main goal has been fulfilled. Belvedere Castle was originally designed by Vaux and Mould as a Victorian Folly – a fantastic structure providing some of the best views, as well as one of the best backgrounds for pictures (and a place to take amazing pictures of the park).
And Belvedere is an astonishing structure – with its stone façade, turret, and flag, the castle looks as impressive as any European castle.
Belvedere plays an important role in New York City’s weather forecasts. For more than a century it is used as a measuring point for the wind speed and direction. Rainfall is recorded just to the south.
In 1983 the castle was reopened after a major renovation and now housed the Henry Luce Nature Observatory.
Through the course of its existence, the Belvedere was and is one of the most popular locations of Central Park, drawing visitors with its architecture and as being the second-highest point in the park. Its name...
The Bethesda fountain is the jewel in the crown of Bethesda Terrace. It is one of the largest fountains in New York – 26 feet high and 96 feet wide. Impressive!
The fountain is “crowned” by the “Angel of the Waters” – an eight-foot tall neoclassical bronze sculpture, standing above four small cherubim. The angel holds a lily in one hand and blesses the waters in her feet with the other, thus blessing the waters in the Croton Aqueduct that, was used to supply fresh water to New York City.
Actually, the angel gave the name to the whole terrace.It was first considered to be named just “The Water Terrace” in the Greensward Plan, but was named “Bethesda Terrace” after the placement of the monument.
The Angel of the Waters was designed by Emma Stebbins. The monument was placed in 1873. A historical fact is that Mrs. Stebbins was the first woman to receive a public commission for an artwork by a New York City Mayor.
Welcome to the heart of Central Park! It is considered its signature feature by the Greensward plan.
Although nature is considered the soul and the park by Olmsted and Vaux – Nature first, second, and third – architecture after a while" and still wanted to create a man-made attraction that is to be the centerpiece, so they decided it to be the Bethesda Terrace.
The Terrace is scribed with topics such as nature, art, science, and more! There is a more interesting and a bit hidden place called the Arcade.
It is under the Terrace and was conceived as a space to shelter visitors from heat and rain. The place is popular amongst singers and musicians due to its amazing acoustics.
Bethesda Terrace was created in the 1860s and features 49 panels with nearly 16.000 hand-made and patterned tiles. They were created by the famous English craftsmen of Minton and Company. A fun fact is that they are used for the ceiling, not the floor.
Bow Bridge was designed by Calver Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould. It is the second-oldest cast- iron bridge in the whole of the US, and the oldest one in Central Park.
Bow Bridge is one of the most romantic locations in New York, seen many marriage proposals throughout the ages, as well as one of the most photographed due to its picturesque location over The Lake.
Besides the great vista towards The Lake, Bow Bride provides an amazing view towards the city skylines, rising above the Park.
Bow Bridge is a cool place located in the center of Central Park. On one hand it's only a bridge but on another hand it's iconic place. Romantic scenery, beautiful view on Bethesda Terrace, breath-taking landscape of Manhattan - ideal place...
Central Park Zoo
The Zoo wasn’t considered by Olmsted and Vaux and was preceded by a menagerie near the Arsenal. The menagerie was founded in 1864 and is considered the first public zoo in New York City. It evolved into a zoo with animals given (or just abandoned) in the park. The zoo that we know and love today was opened on December 2, 1934.
The Zoo is a year-round attraction and has animals from different climate areas, recreating successfully their natural habitats. The Zoo fields a sea lion pool in its center, that has an underwater area offer a peek to their underwater shenanigans.
There is a cool feature on the brick arch between Central Park Zoo and Tisch Children’s Zoo – the “George Delacorte Musical Clock”. Every day you can see a band of animals coming out a half an hour and an hour. The band is composed of a bear with a tambourine, a hippo with a violin, monkeys with bells and hammers, a penguin with a drum, a goat with pipes, and a kangaroo with a horn.
The daily feeding of the animals is one of the most popular attractions. You can check the schedule of the zoo to acquire additional information about it.
Cherry Hill takes its name from the cherry trees that bloom there each spring. It is a quiet hill providing a great view to the Lake and the boats around Bow Bridge.
It is a popular picnic destination equipped with many benches.
The blooming cherries give it a very romantic vibe and thus it is a popular date destination.
Along with the cherries you can enjoy a large population of forsythia and azaleas. The Cherry Hill fountain is the center of the place.
It has a very elegant design with glass lights atop and you can find the Wagner Cove just at the west.
Chess and Checkers
The Chess and Checkers House is in close proximity to the Dairy. It is placed on a large rock outcropping known as the Kinderberg.
It was created in 1952 with a donation by Bernard Baruch – a popular philanthropist.
The brick structure has tables both inside and out and is popular with both young and old.
Players can take pieces from park staff or bring their own.
Players can take pieces from park staff or bring their own.
You can borrow not only chess but also backgammon and domino.
It is well-suited for players of all statuses – from rookies to seasoned veterans.
The pergola surrounding it was erected in 1986 by the Conservancy to provide shade for the players.
Columbus Circle is a large roundabout, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in his 1857 vision for the park, which included a rotary on the southwest corner of the park. It lays just next to the Merchant gate.
It was originally known as just “The Circle” but got its name by the Christopher Columbus statue that got installed there in 1892. The monument is 76 – foot tall and was created by Gaetano Russo. It consists of a 14-foot marble monument of Columbus atop a large granite column. It is decorated with bronze reliefs of his three ships: the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María.
The pedestal features an angel holding a globe. It was installed on October 12, 1965.
The monument was part of the three monuments planned to be installed in 1892 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus' landing in the Americas. Its first location was planned to be Bowling Green or somewhere in Lower Manhattan, with the first location being. “Il Progresso”, a New York City-based Italian-language newspaper took up the cause to rais the required fund.
Conservatory Garden is a quiet, serene place, well-beloved by visitors who want to rewind and relax. The Conservatory Garden owes its name to the old conservatory that was there between 1898 and 1935.
It was transformed in what we know today by Gilmore D. Clarke, and was open to the public in 1939.
The Conservatory Garden is six acres large and consists of three separate and totally different gardens – the French in the north, the Italian in the center and the English.
The Italian garden features a large meadow with yew hedges at its borders, along with a large fountain and the amazing Wisteria Pergola. It fields narrow alleys under rows of crabapples. They bloom in spring and make the Italian garden a preferred location during this season.
The French garden is in the northern part of the Conservatory. The fountain is surrounded by beds of seasonal flowers – from tulips that bloom in early spring, to Korean chrysanthemums that give color to late fall, each season has it flower representation.
Do you know where you can get to watch Shakespeare for free in New York City? The answer is Delacorte Theatre! There’s a catch – the theatre has “only” 1800 seats, who are not enough to accommodate those that want to see a show most of the times.
The Delacorte was established in 1962. Today it is the home of the Public theatre that often puts on stage Shakespeare and other classic plays.
Those performances are immensely popular due to a couple of more facts – they are used to introduce new faces to the stage (and we all know that Broadway is just down the road), as well as putting well established and popular actors on a free stage, like Al Pacino, Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
He is best known for hosting the New York Shakespeare Festival every summer.
Heckscher Playground is the oldest and largest playground in Central Park. It was equipped back in 1927, this makes it so old, that there’s a chance that your grandparents played there. It was something revolutionary back in the day. The concept of a “play ground” in the Greensward plan was totally different, involving the meadows and the recreational activities performed on them, at certain times of the day, and with strict rules about the activities. Heckscher Playground was the first playground of the type that we know today – a designated area with specific equipment, solely for entertainment and recreational uses.
This was all thanks to the effort of two decades of advocacy.
The patron of the playground is August Heckscher – a German-born magnate, financier, and philanthropist, who arrived in New York in 1867. His first act of philanthropy was when he donated a piece of property to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. This piece of land, located on Fifth Avenue between 104th and 105th Streets was purchased in 1935 by the same organization. They gave it the name “Heckscher Playground”.
Shakespeare in The Park
Shakespeare in the Park is a well-beloved Central Park tradition. Dating back for nearly 60 years, it has managed to put on the Central Park stage some of the most iconic plays like Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, and many more!
The “season” usually runs through most of may up until august. The “stage” is the Great Lawn, and Belvedere Castle and Turtle Pond are the “décor”. Plays start in the late afternoon, usually when the sun is still up. This way the sun and the moon take care of the stage lighting, thus making Shakespeare in the Park a unique experience.
Since its inception by Joseph Papp in 1962, Shakespeare in the Park has given New Yorkers the opportunity to see some of the greatest stars even, be it from the screen or from Broadway, on a free stage. Names like James Earl Jones, Al Pacino, and Meryl Streep among the rest, have graced the stage of Shakespeare in the Park.
Today, the Delacorte theatre is the one responsible for the organization of Shakespeare in the Park and provide those...
Initially created as a parade ground, Sheep Meadow is a picturesque, pastoral meadow considered the best example of the pastoral vision that was the backbone of the Greensward plan.
However, Sheep Meadow was not always the calm, green lawn that it is today. Building it was the most expensive construction operation in the park.
Originally it was a swampy, rocky ground that required the blasting of rock outcrops and the installation of four feet of soil to become what it is today. Then, after a peak in popularity in the ’60s and ’70s plus no management and bad maintenance, lead to erosion and heavy damage. Restoring it was one of the first missions of the Central Park Conservancy in 1980.
Now, well managed, well maintained, it is one of the favorite green spots of New-yorkers.
There are a couple of monuments near Sheep Meadow - of the famous Italian patriot and revolutionary – Giuseppe Mazzini, and ‘The Indian hunter’. It is the first statue in Central Park by an American artist - John Quincy Adams Ward.
A lot of large-scale events took place in Sheep Meadow since it was...
A panther stalks the East Drive, just at the crest of Cedar Hill. But it is not black, or even pink. It is made of bronze.
The beautiful statue is placed atop a small rock outcrop. Situated on a rock outcrop on the west side of the East Drive at the edge of the Ramble, the crouching animal has scared many joggers as they climb "Cat Hill" (formally Cedar Hill) and approach this life-size and realistic representation. It was created by American sculptor Edward Kemeys (1843–1907).
He got inspired to create wildlife sculptures after seeing a German sculptor creating a wolf head at the Central Park Zoo.
His idea was to creat it as realistic as possible, making it blend in the surroundings, thus being one of the very few monuments in Central Park without a plaque.
Unlike the traditional sculptures of other animals in the park that sit on a stone base or pedestal, Kemeys situated his sculpture directly on the rock ledge.
Strawberry fields is a popular location in Central Park and a place of cult worship. Named after the famous Beatles’ song “Strawberry Fields Forever”, it is dedicated to John Lennon, who for a time lived and was also killed nearby.
The Strawberry Fields is a rather large memorial, surrounded by a line of elm trees, flowers, and rocks. It is one of the designated quiet zones of Central Park. It was created as a commemoration to John Lennon, who lived just outside Central Park, at the Dakota, and where he was tragically murdered.
It was designed by landscape architect Arne Abramowitz in close cooperation with Yoko Ono. She requested that it should be a living monument, believing that “there are enough monuments in Central Park”.
Fans of The Beatles and of music as general used it as a place of worship and commemoration, often placing flowers and candles to pay their homage to the famous singer-songwriter. Two bigger events are October 9 and...
Through the years, the Swedish Cottage served many purposes – a tool house, a library, an entomological laboratory, even a headquarters for the Civil Defense during World War II.
Today it is home of the Marionette Theater, well-beloved by old and (mostly) the youngest. It received its standing troupe of puppeteers in 1947. Since then, they have put performances of the most beloved children plays like Peter Pan, Cinderella, and many others!
A fun fact is that it was actually created in Sweden, where it was created to be a schoolhouse and was transported to the US in 1877 by the request of Frederick Law Olmsted.
That is why you can see both the US and the Swedish flags raised on top.
Tavern on The Green
The Tavern on the Green is a staple of both architecture and cuisine in Central Park. As weird as it may sound, it was once a sheepfold. The sheep were used to “mown” the Sheep Meadow between the 1870s until they were moved away in 1934 as a part of Robert Moses’ renovations, who turned it into a restaurant as a part of his large-scale renovations.
During the decades, Tavern on the Green faced numerous renovations of its own – dance floor, outdoor seating, and several owners, up until December 31, 2009 when it served its last meal.
The Tavern became a tourist center, opened in 2010. It operated as such until 2014 when it was reopened as a restaurant again under its current owners.
The Carousel is one of the oldest attractions in Central Park, dating back to 1871. And one of the most popular, too – its 58 hand-carved horses (and two chariots) give more than a quarter million rides a year!
They are a wonderful example of traditional art, and were made by Solomon Stein and Harry Goldstein in 1908. The same can go for the fence, with its small bright horses, “running” on a band.
This is the fourth Carousel on this sight. The last one burned down in 1950. The current one was found by Park officials on a Coney Island trolley terminal. The one we have (and love) today was build thanks to a donation by the Michael Firedsam Foundation.
Weird as it sounds...
The Great Lawn
The Great Lawn is a well-beloved attraction and one of the most famous picnic spots in Central Park. It is a green pastoral lawn, spanning at 55-acres.
A fun fact is that back in the day, the Great Lawn was a reservoir. Up until 1931 it was used to provide fresh water to New York City. When it was decommissioned, New Yorkers flooded local authorities with ideas on what to do with it, including the creation of a World War I memorial, a cinema and an opera house. But it became the Great Lawn, a space desired by Olmsted and Vaux.
t was first opened for visitors in 1937, whit the diamonds being added in the 1950s.
The Great Lawn was the arena of some amazing concerts with the likes of Simon and Garfunkel, Diana Ross, Bon Jovi, the Metropolitan Opera, and the New York Philharmonic. This, however, damaged the Lawn, but the Conservancy managed to...
With its span of 20 acres, The Lake rivals the Reservoir as sheer size. It is the heart and soul of the rowing community of New York City – this is the place to go when you want to rent a boat or go for a trip with a gondola in Central Park. You can rent them from the Loeb Boathouse.
The Lake, along with the Ramble, were vital centerpieces of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s plan for the park. It used to be a swamp before the Greensward plan for the building of Central Park was placed in action.
In the Greensward Plan, the Lake was designed as an ice-skating rink in winter, and as a place for boating in summer. The skating was a total hit – more than 300 skaters participated in the opening ceremony.
Attendance peaked at the Christmas of that year with more than 8.000 skaters.
Skaters today have specially-designed...
The Loeb Boathouse
The Loeb Boathouse is a Central Park icon and the place to go if you want to rent a boat or go for a ride with a gondola! Not only that, but the restaurant is one of the best and most famous all over New York! You’ve probably seen The Boathouse in movies like When Harry Met Sally or Manchurian Candidate.
Boating on The Lake traces its roots back to the 1860s. In 1872 Calvert Vaux answered the need of a boathouse by creating a beautiful two-story Victorian building.
Between 1924 and 1950s the first boathouse was replaced by a somewhat mysterious wooden structure. Not much can be found about it, except that it by the 1950s was in a need of a repair.
The boathouse that we know today was created thanks to the generous donation by businessman Carl M. Loeb and $110,000 from NYC Parks, and was completed in 1954. The restaurant was opened in 1983 ...
The Central Park Mall is a large pedestrian esplanade (an ‘esplanade’ meaning a long, open, level area, usually next to a river or large body of water, where people may walk). It leads to Bethesda Fountain and provides the only purely formal feature in the naturalistic original plan of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux for Central Park.
The Mall was designed so that a carriage could drop its passengers at the south end, then drive around and pick them up again overlooking Bethesda Terrace, whose view of the Lake and Ramble formed the "ultimatum of interest" in Olmsted and Vaux's vision.
The Mall borders a couple of interesting places – Naumburg Bandshell and Rumsey Playfield, with both being popular with young artists and musicians.
A curious fact about the Mall is that it’s one of the last and largest remaining stands of American Elm trees in North America. The elms form a cathedral-like canopy above the Park's widest pedestrian pathway and are one of the Park’s most...
The Obelisk, aka Cleopatra’s Needle, is a historical curiosity – it is the oldest man-made object in Central Park, and the oldest outdoor monument in New York City. It is as old as it is big – measuring 69 feet high, 220 tons, and being at least 3,000 years old.
The Obelisk was erected in 1450 BCE to commemorate Pharaoh Thutmose III's third decade on the throne. After more than 1,500 years it was moved to Alexandria due to the war with the Persians, repaired and placed in front of Cleopatra’s Caesarium by Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus.
The Obelisk had a twin brother that shared the same fate, and was moved to London in 1878, where it still stands to this day. The other one was sold to the USA in the following year.
It was erected in Central Park in 1881, after a long and hard journey – moving it to New York required the building of a special railroad system, and it took 112 days for it to reach ...
The Pool can be traced by to the only natural body of water in Central Park – the Montayne’s Rivulet.
Like everything in the Park, the Pool was carefully designed in the Greensward plan. With its weeping willows hanging over the grass-green banks of the Pool, it is easily one of the calmest places in Central Park. The only vibe of motion is the waterfall.
The Pool was completely received a full renovation back in 2003, making it a great place for birds, fish, amphibians, and park guests that want to escape all the hustle of Manhattan.
Can you imagine that there’s a real living forest at the heart of Manhattan? Yes, and it is called The Ramble.
The Ramble is large woodland (approx. 38 acres) and was decided as Olmsted’s "wild garden". It is a maze of trails amidst a sea of trees, composed mostly of North American species, but also more exotic ones like the Sophora and the Phellodendron.
The fauna is rich, too. You can spot numerous smaller species like squirrels and raccoons. The birds however are the real treasure – more than 250 species have been spotted here, making The Ramble heaven for birdwatching.
The Ramble borders with some of Central Park’s most prominent attractions, like Bethesda Terrace, The Lake (actually, you can often find the two “combined” together)...
It is quite easy to get lost in the Ravine. This large area of Central Park carries the vibe of distant wild woodland, hundreds of miles away from the heart of New York City. It was designed as a retreat for anyone, who can appreciate and marvel at the wonders of nature, thus bringing it to the heart of New York.
The North Woods span on 40 acres, and form a forest more suited to the untamed lands in Canada or Alaska.
They are crossed by the Loch – one of the many words for a lake that you can find in Central Park. The Loch crosses the North Woods, forming several small cascades and even some waterfalls.
To the south, you can find a couple of rustic arches – Huddlestone and Glen Span, who...
The Reservoir is one of the most famous running routes. A lot of celebrities enjoy jogging around it, including Madonna, President Clinton and Jackie Kennedy Onassis – who gave the Reservoir its name.
Back in the 1860 it was used as a part of the NYC water system. It held the impressive billion gallons of water.
With its 40-feet in depth was considered the largest man-made lake of that time. The Reservoir was the back-up of the Croton reservoir.
It was decommissioned in 1993 and up until recently was surrounded by a six foot chain link, that got replaced in 2003 by a far more aesthetic chain fence...
Do you know that you can practice rock climbing in Central Park? Yes, you can! The place to go is Umpire rock! One of the few natural attractions in the Park, this rock foundation is dated to be between 190 million and 1.1 billion years old.
This ancient bedrock lies under the entire Manhattan, with all the skyscrapers standing atop of it! It was incorporated to the design of the Greensward plan partly due to the fact that the rock proved to be very hard to blast.
It turned out to be a great decision, due to the Rock’s popularity today.
The Umpire Rock is covered by mica and quarts minerals. It can be used as a geological timeline, dating back millennia, back when the Rock was formed Climbing the Rock gives you an amazing view...
Do you want to visit one of Central Park’s least known locations? Sure you do!
Wagner Cove is a small location just next to The Lake. It has a rustic shelter with two wooden benches, and a lot of trees, flowers and some slate rocks. It is a distant, secluded spot, perfect for dates, and relaxing, quiet activities.
It is only accessible by a small path on the side of the water, which helps make the place even more secluded.
Due to its proximity to the lake it is often cooler in summer than most of the park.
It is named after New York City mayor Robert F. Wagner, who was in office in the 1950s. Its old name is Cherry Hill Boat Landing. And yes, the hill with the same name...
Wollman Rink is the biggest, oldest and most popular public skating rink in Central Park.
Wollman Rink was created back in 1950 in order to replace the Lake, that was used as a skating rink before. The skating season in Central Park usually lasts from October to April. The rink was created with donations from the Wollman family and thus carries their name.
It went under a large-scale renovation that turned it into a piece of art, and is currently operated by The Trump Organization.
In the summer it becomes the Victorian Gardens amusement park. It is equipped with a wide assortment of rides, including Rising Water and Whac-a-Mole.
Besides ice skating, Wollman Rink offers ice hockey, figure...