We never hold back on this blog when talking about all of the things that make New York the best city in the world, and we don’t intend to stop anytime soon! With this blog, we’re taking a look at Central Park: an incredible park with a lot to offer visitors. This huge green area right in the center of Manhattan is hard to miss, given that Fifth Avenue runs along its east side and covers an area of 843 acres — that’s the size of roughly 422 football pitches! In fact, Central Park is so big that it has space for open-air concerts and theater productions — and it even has its own zoo! Here are five reasons why you should visit New York’s Central Park!
1) Central Park Zoo
With over one million visitors each year, Central Park Zoo is a very popular attraction. The zoo can be found on the South East corner of the park and it’s not to be missed. Every zoo has its own personality and Central Park Zoo feels slightly surreal as you’ll be watching some majestic wild animals with Manhattan’s impressive skyscrapers peering over the top of your line of sight. The zoo has a surprising variety of animals. There’s a petting zoo section with goats, cows, and other farmyard animals that are happy to be petted — making it perfect for young families. And there are dozens of rare animal species, such as snow monkeys, tamarins, and two snow leopards (one of the rarest and most endangered species in the world). Central Park Zoo is easy to get to on one of our hop-on hop-off New York buses as you can walk in right off 5th Avenue!
2) Ice Skate at Wollman Rink
There’s always something special about an outdoor ice rink, and this goes double for the Wollman Rink in Central Park. You’ll find the ice rink to the South East, not far from the zoo, and it offers staggering views of the New York skyline as you fool around on the ice with your buddies or take a romantic little skate with someone special. This ice rink comes to Central Park in late October, but it’s a fantastic feature and it tends to stick around until March. If you’re traveling to New York City to soak up the atmosphere around Christmas, you simply must to go ice skating in Central Park before (or after) seeing the Rockefeller Center Tree!
3) Watch a Play in Central Park
As we mentioned in the introduction, there are dozens of live theater performances in Central Park each year — many of which are free! However, Central Park’s theater scene is most famous for its completely free Shakespeare in the Park summer tradition. All Shakespeare in the Park performances usually start at 8pm and you can obtain your free tickets from the Delacorte Theater box office on the day of the performance. Only two tickets can be obtained per person, so you can’t go by yourself to get a bunch of tickets for all of your buddies. In 2018, Othello ran from May 29th to June 24th and Twelfth Night ran from July 17th to August 19th. There’s something special about hearing the Bard’s immortal lines recited in Central Park, so make sure you take advantage of the opportunity if you’re visiting in the summer.
4) Explore Central Park’s Walkways
With the zoo, the Christmas festivities, and Shakespeare in the Park, you might forget to actually enjoy Central Park for what it truly is: a beautiful, expansive park right in the center of one of the busiest, most populous cities in the world. There’s something incredibly novel about sampling the dozens of species of trees, flowers, and other plant life that grows in Central Park while also seeing Manhattan’s impressive skyline peeking over the tops of the trees. Central Park is a natural haven, a green space in a very built-up city, and it’s a great place to visit when you need a little bit more green in your life. If you like to stay active, New York’s shopping scene has more than enough to keep you busy, but the winding walking trails through Central Park are perfect for anyone who wants to get out of the city without actually getting out of the city!
5) Christmas in Central Park
Christmas in Central Park is incredibly special, as it usually snows and the atmosphere is electric — but the electricity might have something to do with the thousands of Christmas lights on display at the Charles A. Dana Center. Each year, visitors are treated to a beautiful, variegated display of Christmas decorations, Christmas carols, a Santa’s grotto, and plenty of hot cocoa to go around! This is, without a doubt, one of the best activities for young families visiting New York City around the holidays. And if you need some more inspiration, make sure you read our Christmas in New York City guide!
We hope we’ve inspired a few readers to spend at least part of their next visit to New York City in Central Park. If you’re planning to visit and you have a few questions about our range of New York City tours, please contact us. Start planning your next big adventure in New York!