Central Park is 843 acres of fun in the middle of Manhattan. One could dedicate a whole trip to New York City just exploring Central Park if they really wanted to, because there really is just so much to do and see in the park. Here are some of the highlights of Central Park:
The Central Park Zoo
Who would ever guess they would run into sea lions, monkeys, lions, wolves and antelope in the middle of New York City? Just about anyone who has ever read or watched curious George is who! Come follow the steps that the curious monkey led us through in our childhood memories. Make sure to check out the new Tisch Children’s Zoo for the kids. You can feed the domestic animals in the Tisch zoo with pellets dispensed from a machine for 25 cents. You may be embarrassed at next Thanksgiving when the grandparents ask what little Johnny says he liked most about New York City and he responds “feeding the goats!”
Victorian Gardens Amusement Park
This carnival in Central Park was built in 2003. It is has everything you would expect from a small amusement park including games, rides, cotton candy, face painters, etc. What stands out is the performance of the interactive performers employed by the Victorian Guardians that entertain child and adult alike. This is really a great one for taking kids or a date. Just as a warning it is usually packed with swarms of children, so for adult who aren’t a big fan of kids you may want to skip this one.
If you want a great view of Central Park, this is the place to go. The castle provides one of the best views of the entirety of Central Park available. This castle was constructed to be a miniature castle in 1869 as a structure to look-out over the reservoir, which turned out to be a completely unnecessary precaution. Today the castle is used by the National Weather service to make weather measurements. Kids love it!
A man made pond filled with New York City clean, drinking water. Lots and lots and lots of turtles live in this pond. Many of these turtles started out as pets of city dwellers, but outgrew their accommodations. They were released into the pond as their new home. There are five different types of turtles to be spotted in the pond, and it is hard to try to identify all of them. At least some of the turtles are almost always out and visible to passer-bys, but they are especially easy to find on sunny days when they bask in the sun.
Central Park Boathouse Restaurant
You will need to make a reservation to dine here, and on busy days expect to wait fifteen minutes to an hour even with a reservation. It is worth it for the view over the lake and park you get when you are seated. For adults, the wait for the table just gives you a chance to go the bar where they make a fantastic mimosa with “good” champagne and fresh-squeezed orange juice. I recommend the signature crab cake or the lobster roll that are everything those dishes are supposed to be. This is a perfect dining spot for a romantic date with a love one.
To get to the gardens, you walk through a 19th century French iron gate called the Vanderbilt Gate. The garden is six acres of French, English and Italian styled gardens with coiling paths running through them, so you can get a good look at all the greenery. The Conservatory Garden is a perfect place for a stroll in the spring time when the blooms of all the different flowers are intoxicating.
Rent a Bicycle
To see a large part of the park quickly, renting a bike is a common option locals and tourists take advantage of from vendors in the park. Zoom through the different parts of the park, so that you can get a little taste of everything. Perfect for hot days when you need to generate your own breeze in the sometimes steamy New York City.
Take a Tour
Another way to see specialized areas of the park is to take a tour with one of the many guides available at Central Park. This way you can get a little local history about the park without having to worry about navigating the entire park yourself. Central Park can be intimidating, so this is perfect for tourists who like to worry less and enjoy more.
Image by My Blog Guest
Holly Williford works as a freelance writer for Palace Travel, and lives in Washington D.C. with her three cats and fiancé. She wishes that Washington D.C. could steal central park for New York City, but she settles for the National Mall as a substitute.