11 Things To Do In Central Park: Things You’d Never Thought Of!

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. Here are 11 things to do in Central Park, New York, things you didn’t even imagine of doing here!

Also, did you know that you can climb (bouldering) in Cental Park? I went there with my kids and have a great time, take a look at my post about it.

imagine Memorial What To Do in Central Park, NYC
Strawberry Fields Memorial

What To Do in Central Park New York

  • 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.

Related Post: Free Things to do in New York

11 Things to Do 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.

central park lake, tour of central park
Rent a Boat

Recommended Read: Places to Visit in New York 

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.

Bethesda Fountain What To Do in Central Park, NYC
Bethesda Fountain

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

Center of Manhattan Island
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.

history of central park nyc
Literary Walk

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.

Pedicab Tours in new york
Family Pedicab Tour

Related Read: Trucks and Street food in New York

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

What To Do in Central Park, NYC – 11 Things

Last Updated on August 15, 2023

24 thoughts on “11 Things To Do In Central Park: Things You’d Never Thought Of!

  1. Great recommendations! I will keep in mind if I get to visit New York and its famous Central Park 🙂

  2. Great tips! I love Central Park and ice skating on the rink in winter is so much fun!

  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!

  4. Wow…so many great things to do! The row boat ride looks like it would be so gorgeous and peaceful.

  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.

  6. 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)

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

    1. Hey Jennifer,

      How fun! I’ve never eaten at Seredipity, but heard it’s great.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

    1. Hey Terry,

      Did not know about the other ice skating rink, thanks for that!

      I wanted to put in the Carousel, but thought of it as a bit cliche, not sure why 🙂

  12. LOVE Central Park! I often take my daughter after a day at the American Museum of Natural History. Great photos!

  13. 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.

  14. Such great tips! Wow, though 25 million people a year is a pretty impressive number. 🙂

  15. I just love Central Park! The kids always get a kick out of a peddi cab ride too. You make me miss New York!

  16. This is great – we were just talking about what we’d do WHEN we make it back to NYC – many new ideas here! Thanks

    1. Hey Shelly,

      Tell me when you go and I’ll give you fun things to do with kids. Not everything can be done with kids.

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