Central Park Travel Guide

Discover the best places to visit, dine, hike, and stay in Central Park with our ultimate travel guide. Learn about local culture, customs, and safety tips too!

Introduction to Central Park

Central Park is one of the world’s most renowned public parks and a classic New York City landmark. This remarkable oasis of greenery spans over 843 acres in the heart of Manhattan, offering exceptional scenery and outdoor leisure activities. Every year, millions of tourists visit Central Park to enjoy its stunning landscapes, world-class attractions, and cultural events.

List of Places to Visit in Central Park

There are countless attractions in Central Park to visit, divided into two main categories:

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

Central Park is home to some of the most significant cultural and historical landmarks in the city. Here are some must-visit places in Central Park:

  • The Central Park Conservatory Garden: A beautiful formal garden situated on 6 acres of land featuring several seasonal plants, fountains, and sculptures.
  • The Central Park Zoo: a small, but delightful zoo perfect for families and animal lovers.
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET): Explore the MET’s collection on Central Park’s eastern side as it houses one of the world’s most extensive collections of art and artefacts.
  • The American Museum of Natural History: The museum features the T-Rex skeleton, a collection of dinosaur bones, and a planetarium with star shows.
  • The Bethesda Fountain and Terrace: An iconic public gathering place located in the center of the park, boasting sculptural and architectural elements.

Natural Attractions of Central Park: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

Central Park is brimming with wildlife, fauna, and flora and offers some of the finest outdoor activities like hiking, biking, or walking through the park’s scenic, breathtaking landscapes. The following are some outdoor attractions often visited by visitors:

  • The Great Lawn: A spacious area providing a beautiful view of the New York City Skyline, where picnickers, sports enthusiasts, and concert-goers can enjoy outdoor events and activities.
  • The Ramble: An area set aside from other areas to get lost in the extensive forest. A great place to do some birdwatching, have a picnic, or explore scenic trails.
  • The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir: A serene spot with a 1.6-mile jogging track providing stunning views of the city’s skyline.
  • The Bow Bridge: A picturesque cast-iron structure that is in the heart of the park and is a must-visit destination for romantic strolls.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Central Park

Central Park boasts over 58 miles of pedestrian and bike routes to explore. There are numerous routes to choose from dependent on the individual’s desired length and terrain in the park. A few of the most visited trails are:

  • Central Loop: A straightforward circuit that passes by the most famous landmarks in the park including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Great Lawn, and the Bethesda Fountain.
  • Bridle Path: A horse trail where visitors can immerse themselves in nature and spot some wildlife along the way.
  • Harlem Hills: A challenging path that goes through the park’s highest peak, accompanied with a spectacular view of the city’s skyline.

Best Things to Do in Central Park: Activities and Tours

Apart from the attractions mentioned above, Central Park offers plenty of other activities and tours. Here are some of the best things to do in Central Park:

  • Take a rowboat or gondola ride on The Lake.
  • Experience a horse carriage tour around the park or take a bike tour to cover the entire place.
  • Attend a Concert or movie at the Central Park SummerStage, a popular event destination.
  • Visit the Sheep Meadow, a famous leisure destination for sunbathing and picnics during the summers.
  • Play some sports with friends or family on one of the many playgrounds and ball fields.

Week-Long Itinerary for Central Park

If you love Central Park and want to explore the area more, here’s an itinerary for a fun-filled week:

Day Activity
1 Visit the Central Park Zoo and Conservatory Garden
2 Explore the museums located around the park like the MET and the American Museum of Natural History
3 Rent a bike and ride around the entire park
4 Take in the views of the city skyline at the Bow Bridge and the Great Lawn
5 Attend a Central Park SummerStage event
6 Stroll along the park’s lakeshores and top-off your day with a picnic on Sheep Meadow
7 Visit the Bethesda Terrace and fountain, ending the day with the iconic view of the Literary Walk.

Food and Drink Scene of Central Park

Central Park offers plenty of dining options for visitors to choose from. Here are some must-try dishes and local beverages in the park:

Must-Try Dishes

  • The Hot Dogs: New York’s most iconic snack that you can enjoy from any of the many street vendors inside the park.
  • The Lobster Roll: Park concession Pawleys Island Cafe serves up a delicious lobster roll that is a must-have.
  • Soft Serve: The Shake Shack outlet serves a fantastic chocolate cake slice and a thick, creamy hot fudge shake.

Local Beverages

  • Smoothies and Juices: Enjoy the delicious juices and smoothies at the iconic Pure Green juice bar located in the park.
  • Beer and Wine: Visit the Loeb Boathouse to get a glass of beer or wine and take advantage of their breezy outdoor terrace overlooking the Central Park Lake.

Where to Stay in Central Park: Hotels, Hostels and Guesthouses

If you are planning a longer stay in Central Park, here are some of the best places to stay:

  • The Plaza Hotel: A luxurious five-star hotel located on the southern edge of Central Park offering views of the park and the scenic skyline.
  • The Mandarin Oriental: A luxury hotel located on Columbus Circle, featuring stunning views of the park, natural light, and a light but dedicated staff.
  • The Pod 51: A modern hostel located on 51st Street offering affordable accommodation suitable for solo travellers or group travellers on a budget.

What to Buy in Central Park: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

When in Central Park, you can grab some of the fantastic souvenirs from the vendors around the park. Here are some of the items you should consider buying:

  • Handmade trinkets and accessories at Artists and Fleas market.
  • Marmalade and Jam from Breezy Hill Orchard.
  • The ‘Central Park’ poster and high-quality photographs.

Local Culture and Customs of Central Park

Visitors to Central Park can expect to experience the New York City lifestyle. Still, it is essential to understand and observe the park’s customs to ensure a comfortable trip. Here are a few customs you should note:

  • Respect the park as a shared space. Leave the park as you found it and dump trash in the bins provided.
  • Observe quiet hours to respect neighborhood residents. Limit noise levels and music volume after sunset.
  • Cyclists and pedestrians share the paths in the park. Keep to the appropriate lanes for each activity.

Best Time to Visit Central Park

Central Park is open throughout the year and a year-round destination. Still, the best time to visit is either in the late spring season (May or June) or in fall (September to November). These months provide perfect conditions to walk through the park without the heat or cold interfering.

Do’s and Don’ts of Central Park

Visitors should be aware of the following:


  • Wear casual, comfortable clothes and shoes since there’s a lot of walking around the park.
  • Check the weather activity before deciding to go to the park.
  • Brush up on the history of landmarks and events to fully appreciate your visit.


  • Bring in your own furniture. Remember to leave the park as you found it.
  • Throw litter around the park, as there are trash cans placed throughout to dispose of trash.
  • Take shortcuts over planted areas. The grounds are protected, and feet can damage plant life.

Safety and Health

Ensuring personal safety, especially in crowded areas, is paramount. Visitors should also keep in mind these health tips:

Safety in Central Park

  • Visitors should avoid arriving too early or too late when travelling to the park.
  • Be hesitant of suspicious behaviour around you and contact security if necessary.
  • Stay informed of your surroundings and your belongings.

Health in Central Park

  • Apply bug spray if you plan on walking or spending a lot of time in the grassy areas.
  • Sunscreen must be applied on the skin to prevent sunburn.
  • Stay hydrated and bring water bottles while walking around the park.

Getting to Central Park: Transportation Options and Logistics

The following are popular means of getting to Central Park:

Airports Near Central Park

  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) [28 miles]
  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA) [14 miles]

Bus Stations Near Central Park

  • Port Authority Bus Terminal [3.9 miles]
  • Greyhound Bus Lines [4.2 miles]

Other Options

  • Subway: Take the A, B, C, D, or 1 train to Columbus Circle or 59th Street stations.
  • Car/Public Transport: Taxis, Uber, or Lyft are popular means of transportation.

How to Get Around in Central Park

Walking remains the best way to get around Central Park, but visitors could also rent bicycles for longer distances or take a guided tour with the many vendors located around the park.

Where to Go Next from Central Park: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

Visitors have access to multiple attractions and destinations to explore after Central Park:

  • The American Museum of Natural History: Located across the park’s street to the west and is a must-visit for history and natural science lovers.
  • Times Square: Head down south to take a walk in one of the busiest spots in Manhattan.
  • The High Line: A beautiful parkway elevated 30 feet above the street level, providing a unique perspective of the city.


Central Park is one of New York City’s top tourist spots, known for its iconic landmarks, scenic views, and the cultural and natural attractions that incorporate wildlife and flora and fauna. Whether you’re on a weekend break, checking off your bucket list, or soaking in the architecture, Central Park is a must-visit. Enjoy the oasis and escape the city’s hustle and bustle while exploring the park’s many landmarks and fun-filled activities.