With 843 acres of land, Central Park offers a tremendous variety of things to do for visitors to New York City. From Central Park concerts and Shakespeare in the Park
to carousel rides and birdwatching, check out our list of great things to do in Central Park.
More: Central Park Visitors Guide
1. Ride the Central Park Carousel
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Central Park has had a carousel since 1871, when it was powered by a blind horse and mule. Today's carousel has been there since 1950 and was originally built for a trolley terminal outside of Coney Island
before being moved to Central Park. The Central Park Carousel is entirely hand painted and features the largest hand carved figures ever made. Rides on the Central Park are $3 each (cash only) and both adults and children must pay. The carousel operates from 10 a.m. - dusk in winter (weather permitting on weekdays) and from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. during the rest of the year. The Central Park Carousel is located mid-park at approximately 65th Street/6th Avenue. Website: http://www.centralparknyc.org/visit/things-to-see/south-end/carousel.html
2. Take a Central Park Walking Tour
If you find the idea of exploring Central Park on your own overwhelming, you might enjoy taking a walking tour. The Central Park Conservancy offers free walking tours. The Central Park Conservancy tours last one to one-and-a-half hours, and they have over ten different walks available.
More Central Park Walking Tours:
3. Enjoy a Picnic in Central Park
If you want to spend the afternoon feeling like a "real" New Yorker, consider enjoying a picnic in Central Park. First, you can shop for picnic provisions at a great New York City market
and then you can relax and people-watch while you enjoy delicious food and drink. Sheep Meadow and the Great Lawn are two popular places to picnic and people-watch, but you can wander around and find a place that looks good to you.
4. Row A Boat Around the Lake
Head to Loeb Boathouse and you can rent a boat to row around the Lake -- Central Park's second largest body of water (only The Reservoir is bigger). Boat rentals are $12/hour (15 minute increments are $2.50 after the 1st hour) and require a $20 cash deposit. Boats are available for rent from April through November, weather permitting. Each rowboat can hold up to four passengers. If you're looking for something more indulgent, gondola rides are available
for $30/half hour from 2-9 p.m. on weekends and 5-9 p.m. on weekdays for up to 6 passengers, but you'll need to reserve in advance at 212-517-2233. More: Central Park Boathouse
5. See A Central Park Concert
Throughout the summer, Central Park hosts many musical events, whether you prefer popular or classical music, there is something for everyone among their extensive concert lineup. Seeing a concert in Central Park is also a great opportunity to enjoy a picnic
too! Central Park Concerts:
6. Watch the Sailboats on the Conservatory Water
The Conservatory Water was inspired by a model boat pond in Paris after budget cuts forced park designers to change Olmstead and Vaux's plan for a conservatory in the area. Even if you don't have a model boat of your own, you can rent one
($11/half hour) or join the crowd of observers watching the model sail boats on the Conservatory Water on Central Park's east side from 72nd to 75th Streets. Nearby, you can also check out the Alice in Wonderland Sculpture
or join the birdwatchers keeping an eye on Pale Male
a red-tailed hawk who has made his home on a nearby building ledge.
7. Experience Shakespeare in the Park
For over 50 years, audiences have been enjoying free performances as part of Shakespeare in the Park. Each summer schedule typically features two different productions, but not all productions are Shakespeare's plays. You'll need to line-up or try your luck at the online lottery, for free tickets to same-day performance. Alternatively, you can decide to become a Summer Sponsor
, where your tax-deductible contribution let's you skip waiting in line for same-day performances. Shakespeare in the Park Essentials
8. Get Lost in Central Park
With 843 acres to explore, Central Park is a wonderful place for aimless wandering. Wear comfy shoes, bring a map of Central Park
and enjoy Olmstead and Vaux's beautifully designed park. Take time to enjoy both the intensely manicured areas of Central Park, as well as the wilder places, like The Ramble.