Central Park (Central)
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:West 81st Street at Eighth Avenue (Central Park West) or East 79th Street at Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, NY
Hours:6 A.M. to 1 A.M. daily
Fee: Free

centralparknyc.org; 212-310-6600 or call 311

Bathrooms: Delacorte Theater; Bethesda Arcade; Central Park Tennis Center
Water/Snacks: Vendors throughout park

USGS Central Park; centralparknyc.org/maps

The heart of Central Park features paved walkways and sidewalks, as well as a network of gravel bridle paths and several wooded areas with well-maintained nature trails.

Central Park.
Photo by: Cheryl and William de Jong-Lambert

The heart of Central Park stretches from the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir through the Great Lawn and onto the Ramble and Lake. One day is not nearly enough time to see and do everything available here, especially once the wily charms of the Great Lawn pull you in.

The reservoir is a tremendously popular destination for walkers and joggers, including, at a time, Jackie O. It was built in the 1860s as a temporary water supply for the city—a purpose it couldn’t possibly fill today—while the Croton water system underwent its two-week annual maintenance. Today the reservoir is surrounded by a 1.58-mile running track that offers fantastic views of the Manhattan skyline.

Heading south, you pass through the Arthur Ross Pinetum, an arboretum that has the largest collection of pine trees in Central Park. It also features sets of swings and many picnic tables.

The 55-acre Great Lawn, setting for many legendary concerts, is open mid- April through mid-November. It is a perfect place to picnic, fly kites, and play catch. Turtle Pond is on the lawn’s southern edge and is, as the name suggests, home to many turtles. Overlooking the pond is the Belvedere Castle, which was built in 1865 as a stunning attraction without a specific purpose. Today it houses the Henry Luce Nature Observatory, which has natural history artifacts on display.

Farther south on West Drive or Central Park Driveway are the Shakespeare Garden and the Ramble—an extensive wild and wooded area with hiking trails that, in parts, overlook the Central Park Lake. Points of interest include the Azalea Pond and Bank Rock Bay. The Loeb Boathouse rents rowboats for a small fee.

Following Terrace Drive to Cherry Hill, you will come upon the Bethesda Fountain and Arcade. From there, you can follow the tree-lined Mall down to the sights in Central Park’s south and east sections.

Remember: Strollers are not permitted on the reservoir or in the Ramble.

Plan B:

The west, south, east, and north areas of the park are all easily accessed from here, and feature numerous playgrounds.


Get outdoor tips & trips
Yes, I want to receive expert advice on getting my family outside!



Ellis Island »
Island walk with terrific views
Battery Park, State Street and Battery Place, Manhattan, NY (ferry departure point)

Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park: Pelton Pond »
Boat rentals at the beach
Cold Spring Turnpike, Kent, NY

Forest Park »
Mountain-biking and horseback-riding trails
Park Lane and Forest Park Drive, Queens, NY

Minnewaska State Park »
Waterfall on your way to the beach
Main Street, Kerhonkson, NY


Riverside Park (South) »

Four playgrounds between beautiful gardens
Riverside Drive at 100th Street, Manhattan, NY

Inwood Hill Park: History & Urban Ecology in Northern Manhattan »

Whether you are looking to take a nature hike, enjoy playgrounds, engage in
Inwood hill park, new york city

Clove Lakes Park »

Bridge across waterfalls
1150 Clove Road, Staten Island, NY

© 2023 Appalachian Mountain Club | 10 City Square, Boston, MA 02129
About | Privacy Policy | Contact Us