New York City is well known for its towering skyscrapers, bustling downtown, and shopping and entertainment in Midtown Manhattan. But just north of Midtown is one of the world’s largest urban parks, Central Park. Central Park’s 843 acres are a grassy escape from the daily grind of the city, and offer a number of activities for the city’s residents and visitors. If you are staying in a hotel near Central Park in New York City, or are just visiting, here are just a few of our favorite things to see and do in Central Park.
Central Park Zoo
The Central Park Zoo is located in the South East of Central Park, near 5th Avenue and 64th Street. The 6.5 acre zoo is open daily from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (5:30 PM on weekends) and offers visitors a chance to see and interact with animals from around the world, including snow leopards, sea lions, seals, grizzly bears, penguins, red pandas, and snow monkeys, among others. There is also a children’s zoo for you to bring your whole family to, including the only cow on Manhattan.
Museums surrounding Central Park
The avenues directly lining Central Park are home to some of New York City’s most notable museums. On the East side of the park, between 80th Street and 93rd Street, you’ll find art museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Neue Galerie, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, and the Jewish Museum. On the West side of Central Park, between 76th Street and 81st Street you’ll find history-related museums such as the New York Historical Society and the American Museum of Natural History.
Physical Activities in the Park
Central Park is one of the most popular locations in New York city for residents and visitors to exercise and partake in physical activities. You’ll always find cyclists, skaters, joggers and runners along the park’s lakes and on the six-mile-long Park Drive. So much so that driving is banned throughout most of the park, including a new, permanent car ban north of 72nd Street starting June 29, 2015. Central Park is also home to baseball and softball fields, tennis, volleyball, and lawn bowling courts, and the lawns of Central Park are popular for sunbathing and games of Frisbee. In the winter months, Central Park is home to two ice skating rinks.
Arts and Entertainment in Central Park
Central Park is part of the arts and entertainment core of New York City. Lincoln Center is located along the West side of Central Park between 62nd and 66th Streets. Within the park, you can usually find street artists and entertainers catering to the park’s visitors. Throughout the Summer, Central Park’s Delacorte Theater is home to the free Shakespeare in the Park performances put on by the Public Theater.
Soak in the History of Central Park
Central Park is home to some historical locations that many travelers love to visit. Stroll along Literary Walk for the sculptures of notable poets and authors. Other famous sculptures include Alice in Wonderland and Balto, the sled dog. On the West side of the park, at West 72nd Street, the city erected the Strawberry Fields memorial to former Beatle John Lennon, who lived in and was murdered in front of the nearby Dakota Apartments. If you’re visiting with your family, be sure to also take a ride on Central Park’s famous Carousel.
This post is in collaboration with Hipmunk for the #CityLoveProject, but as always, all opinions are my own.