What To Do in Central Park, NYC – Things You’d Never Thought Of Doing!

You can’t come to NYC and not visit Central Park. It’s practically sinful to do that.  Even if you visit in the dead of winter, it’s still a magical place.

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Strawberry Fields Memorial

How to Do a Tour of Central Park:

Walking around on your own or a guided tour of Central Park 

Biking Central Park – either on your own or with a guide

Pedicab Tours – this is what we did

Horse Drawn Carriage tours

After a lot of deliberation we decided to do a Pedicab Tour with Central Park Tours and it was soooo worth every penny.  With a guided tour, whatever your choice would be, you simply get the full scope of what this park is all about. Unlike many central parks in the world, Central Park in Manhattan can fill volumes with it’s history, all the amazing activities it has and the different attractions for the whole family.

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Family Pedicab Tour

What To Do in Central Park, NYC

  • Shakespeare in the Park –  It is a free, annual event  held at the Delacorte Theater in Northern Central Park.

  • Concerts and Music – A summer activity. Some of the most popular venues that the park has to offer: SummerStage – Free Performances for All Types of Music Fans, Naumburg Bandshell – A More Classical Touch, Sandbox Programs – Fun for the Little Ones, Impromptu Music for Summertime Strolls.

  • Running in Central Park – The famous New York Marathon has its final miles in Central Park every year. The site of the New York Marathon’s final 3.2 miles, Central Park offers many scenic distractions while providing a challenge to all levels of runners.

  • Bird Watching – It is home both to native species and exotic birds that pass through during their migration. The park’s lush greenery and many secluded spots make it an ideal location for birds to nest and lay their eggs.

11 Things to Do and See in Central Park NYC

The list of what there is to do with your kids in this park is endless! However, the top ones, not to be missed are:

1. Sheep Meadow – this is the large field where you can simply hang out, throw around a frisbee, run around and do a million other things.  FYI: the reason it’s called sheep meadow, is that when it first opened this part of the park was a pasture for sheep. 

2. Central Park Zoo –  The zoo began in the 1860s as a menagerie, making it the first official zoo to open in New York. It’s also one of the few locations to exhibit a snow leopard.

3. Fishing – Yeap, you can fish here. It’s catch and release, but the fun still is the same. You can borrow a rod and bait for free and fish year round at Harlem Meer.

4. Statues to climb – two extremely famous statues are located here: Alice in Wonderland and Balto. Both are perfect for climbing all over and letting the kids enjoy them.

5. Row Boats – Rent a row boat and enjoy an afternoon on the pond. You can rent the boats at Loeb Boathouse.

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Rent a Boat

6. Playgrounds – Central Park is known not only to have tons of playgrounds all over the park, but some are so unique your kids will think they are climbing around real Egyptian pyramids near the Met. 

7. Ice Skating – The Wollman Ice Skating Rink has a great history. After sitting around for over 12 years of promises to have it done, Donald Trump took it into his own hands and within a few short months has brought this rink to life.  

8. Strawberry Fields John Lennon Memorial – On October 9, 1985 on John Lennon’s 45th birthday Yoko Ono and Ed Koch (ex mayor of NYC), five years after his murder, dedicated this area as a memorial to him. The entrance is at W 72nd st. where he lived in the Dakota house.  

9. Bethesda Fountain – Bethesda is the angel of water and after NYC finally got a water treatment in 1842 bringing fresh water to NYC, this fountain commemorates this.

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Bethesda Fountain

10. Center of Manhattan – This is exact center point of Manhattan Island.

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Center of Manhattan Island

11. Literary Walk and Mall – this is the only straight line walkway in Central Park, and the literary walk is lined with Literary icons, except for one – Christopher Columbus.  

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Literary Walk

History of Central Park NYC

  • Central Park was the first landscaped public park in the United States.

  • Advocates of creating the park – primarily wealthy merchants and landowners admired the public grounds of London and Paris and urged that New York needed a comparable park to establish its own international reputation.

  • An irregular terrain of swamps and bluffs, punctuated by rocky outcroppings, made the land between Fifth and Eighth avenues and 59th and 106th streets undesirable for private development, but it was perfect for a park.

  • In 1857, the Central Park Commission held the country’s first landscape design contest and selected the “Greensward Plan,” submitted by Frederick Law Olmsted

  • The building of Central Park was one of nineteenth-century New York’s most massive public works projects.

  • Workers moved nearly 3 million cubic yards of soil and planted more than 270,000 trees and shrubs.

  • The park first opened for public use in the winter of 1859

  • The Zoo, first given permanent quarters in 1871, quickly became the park’s most popular feature.

  • Trees and benches: More than 26,000 trees and nearly 9,000 benches.

  • Visitors: 25 million annually.

  • Bridges and arches: 36

 

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Article by Marina Kuperman Villatoro

Marina Kuperman Villatoro CEO of TravelExperta.com, a travel resource site to inspire families to travel with kids of all ages. Marina has been an expat 10+ years in Central America raising 2 boys in a multicultural, trilingual household. She travels all over the world with her family to give first hand experiences of where to eat, stay and play with kids. Needless to say, it’s never boring! Join Marina on Facebook and Twitter for more unique and boutique family travel!
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24 Responses to What To Do in Central Park, NYC – Things You’d Never Thought Of Doing!

  1. Lori says:

    Great recommendations! I will keep in mind if I get to visit New York and its famous Central Park :)
    Lori recently posted..International Mosaicultures 2013 Special Exhibition at Montreal Botanical Garden in PhotosMy Profile

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  2. Jennifer says:

    Great tips! I love Central Park and ice skating on the rink in winter is so much fun!
    Jennifer recently posted..Rome’s Borghese Gardens and Villa BorgheseMy Profile

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  3. It’s easy to understand why people are so in love with Central Park! It’s gorgeous and has so much on offer – I love that you fish in the centre of the city and the thought of ice skating under the stars in Central Park could hardly sound more romantic!
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..GO GREEN TIP #100: 40 Healing Vegetables, Nature’s MedicineMy Profile

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  4. Rhonda says:

    Wow…so many great things to do! The row boat ride looks like it would be so gorgeous and peaceful.
    Rhonda recently posted..Trevi Fountain- Everything You’ve Wanted to KnowMy Profile

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  5. On my first trip to NYC last year, the first place I had to visit was Central Park. I grabbed my long distance lens and just snapped away at people, and we didn’t even get to explore the whole park! Great suggestions.
    Cat of Sunshine and Siestas recently posted..Meredith’s Camino: Clarity and Accpetance on the WayMy Profile

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  6. Frank says:

    Great tips Marina! Spanky is from NY and we hope to go back for a visit soon, will make sure to take one of those tours.
    Frank (bbqboy)
    Frank recently posted..Guide to visiting Tadoussac, QuebecMy Profile

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  7. Karon says:

    I’ve only been to Central Park once, and that was not nearly enough time. When I do return, I’m bringing this list with me!
    Karon recently posted..Shop Smart for Back to SchoolMy Profile

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  8. love these tips! those photos are SUPER fun.
    wanderingeducators recently posted..Eating Your Way Through the Woods: Forest EdiblesMy Profile

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  9. I’ve only ever visited NYC in the winter so I feel like I haven’t really gotten to explore Central Park much. But it’s cool that there are so many things to do there, including all those free performances!
    Reena – Wanderplex recently posted..Summer In Chicago (And A Giveaway!)My Profile

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  10. Jennifer says:

    My kids love climbing the big boulders towards the sound end of Central Park, on their way from the west side to the east, for a visit to Serendipity or Dylan’s!
    Jennifer recently posted..Find Happiness.My Profile

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  11. Jennifer says:

    …Oops. I meant, “south end.”
    Jennifer recently posted..Find Happiness.My Profile

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  12. Adam says:

    I’ve always dreamed of going to Shakespeare in the Park at Central Park. I’ve been before in other cities, but would love to go in NYC.
    Adam recently posted..Discovering Belgian Food in AntwerpMy Profile

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  13. Isn’t Central Park grand? Great list. I have two additions: Central Park has a second ice skating rink accessible from 110th Street, aka Central Park North — Lasker Rink. It’s not as fancy as Wollman Rink, but it’s cheaper and usually less crowded. And the Central Park Carousel is a beauty, with classic carved and painted horses and music from a calliope.
    Terry at Overnight New York recently posted..Ace Hotel: Music to Help Kids Get BetterMy Profile

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  14. Melissa says:

    LOVE Central Park! I often take my daughter after a day at the American Museum of Natural History. Great photos!
    Melissa recently posted..Introducing… Advice to My Thirteen-Year-Old SelfMy Profile

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  15. Dale says:

    That centre of Manhattan picture is adorable!

    I’ve longed to go to Central Park, but so far it’s not happened. I really want to spend whole days in there taking in everything, just people watching and taking some photos.
    Dale recently posted..Visiting the Taipei Biennial and Fine Arts MuseumMy Profile

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  16. Elena says:

    Great photos and recommendations– I love Central Park- especially to run in.
    Elena recently posted..Talk to Children About GivingMy Profile

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  17. Such great tips! Wow, though 25 million people a year is a pretty impressive number. :)
    Micki & Charles (TheBarefootNomad) recently posted..The Barefoot Nomad’s Best Travel Things of 2013My Profile

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  18. I just love Central Park! The kids always get a kick out of a peddi cab ride too. You make me miss New York!
    Heidi Wagoner recently posted..Reggio Emilia, Itay – A Photo WalkMy Profile

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  19. This is great – we were just talking about what we’d do WHEN we make it back to NYC – many new ideas here! Thanks
    Shelly Rivoli recently posted..Ten tips for planning a great vacation with GrandparentsMy Profile

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  20. Sue says:

    On our next visit, I think we’re going to fish! What a great list.
    Sue recently posted..Operation Spy: Do You Have What it Takes to be James Bond or Jason Bourne?My Profile

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