NYC - The Official Guide

26 Fun Things to Do in Central Park

Andrew Rosenberg
Updated 07/01/2019

Nearly every NYC visitor heads to Central Park at some point, especially in summertime. If you’re one of them, use this list as a starting block for exploring the City’s favorite green space (though even if you do all these things, you’re still only scratching the surface). Check off those you’ve done, get out to try the ones you haven’t and let us know your favorites and what we missed.

Harlem Meer Central Park Harlem Meer. Photo: Alex Lopez

Land a largemouth bass—but make sure to release it—in Harlem Meer. Fishing poles and bait are available at the nearby Charles A. Dana Discovery Center.

Rumsey Playfield SummerStage SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield. Photo: Will Steacy

Hear a new band at SummerStage, or catch one of your favorites—plenty of world-famous acts perform at Rumsey Playfield. 

Imagine Central Park Imagine Mosaic. Photo: Willy Wong

Commune with Lennonites at Strawberry Fields’ Imagine Mosaic, which honors the Beatle who lived across the street in the Dakota Apartments. 

Belvedere Castle Belvedere Castle. Photo: Marley White

Get your steps in at the newly renovated Belvedere Castle. The panoramas from the viewing deck up high are more than worth ascending the tower.

Central Park nyc Photo: Christopher Postlewaite

Row your way around the Lake, or opt for a more relaxing gondola ride. Either way, you’ll get to explore the park’s largest natural body of water.  

Delacorte Theater Shakespeare in the Park, Delacorte Theater. Photo: Joseph Moran

Yell “Free Bard” at Shakespeare in the Park. OK, don’t actually yell that; but do try to score free tickets for a star-studded Shakespearean play at the Delacorte Theater. 

Play beach volleyball or croquet near Sheep Meadow. Bring a ball for the former and your own equipment for the latter.

Conservatory Garden, Central Park Conservatory Garden. Photo: Grace Tyson

Stop and smell the roses (and sage and catmint) at the Conservatory Garden. The blooms in the three European-style gardens that make up the Conservatory Garden change from season to season.

Spot a black-throated blue warbler in the Ramble—one of the prime bird-watching spots in the City.   

Cleopatra's Needle Central Park Cleopatra's Needle. Courtesy, Central Park Conservancy

Decipher hieroglyphics at Cleopatra’s Needle. This obelisk, a few thousand years old, made its way from Alexandria, Egypt, to Manhattan in the late 1800s.

Minton Tiles, Central Park Bethesda Terrace. Photo: Grace Tyson

Admire the Minton tiles at Bethesda Terrace Arcade. Made in England, these ceramic beauties would typically be used to cover floors; here, they line the ceiling.

Literary Walk Central Park William Shakespeare statue, The Mall. Photo: Will Steacy

Find the odd man out on the Literary Walk, as you stroll along the Mall. Hint: he’s still pretty famous but happens to have been an explorer rather than an author.

Central Park Great Lawn Great Lawn. Photo: Christopher Postlewaite

Lay out a blanket on the Great Lawn to hear the New York Philharmonic in a free summer concert—or just to lie in the sun.  

Conservatory Water Garden Model Sail Boat Conservatory Water. Photo: Will Steacy

Race model sailboats at Conservatory Water. If it makes you want to reread E. B. White’s Stuart Little, consider that a bonus. 

Central Park Resevior Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. Photo: Will Steacy

Circle the Reservoir on foot (just make sure to do so counterclockwise). The running track that traces its rim is 1.58 miles; a bridle path just outside it is the tiniest bit longer. 

Central Park Carousel Central Park Carousel. Photo: Will Steacy

Spin round and round on a century-old carousel. This one was made in 1908, installed at Coney Island until the 1940s and transplanted to Central Park in 1951. 

Meet monarchs in the North Meadow Butterfly Gardens. Summer is a good time to see some before they begin their migration south for the winter. 

Swedish Cottage Central Park Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater. Photo: Marley White

Watch a puppet show at the Swedish Marionette Theatre.

Play on clay at the Tennis Center, and pretend that the French Open has relocated to Manhattan. 

Cherry Hill Central Park View of San Remo apartments from Cherry Hill. Photo: Molly Flores

Picnic on the gentle slopes of Cherry Hill. Gaze across the calm lake to the towers of the San Remo apartments from your perch. 

Skate the weekend away at the Roller Disco. DJs provide the soundtrack; you just need to show up to the Skate Circle north of Sheep’s Meadow, strap on skates and let the good times roll.

Huddlestone Arch Huddlestone Arch. Photo: Grace Tyson

Huddle underneath a natural stone arch. There are around 40 bridges (and arches) in the park, most dating back to the early 1860s when the park was developed.

Swing, climb, crawl and slide your way through the park’s 21 playgrounds. The natural spaces of the Billy Johnson Playground and large climbing rocks in the Heckscher Playground are perennial favorites.


Walk through a humid rainforest in the Central Park Zoo. You’ll be looking high and low for lemurs and ibises.

Reenact scenes from books, movies and television at Tavern on the Green restaurant—or a number of other park filming locations

Bethesda Fountain Bethesda Fountain. Photo: Christopher Postlewaite

Make a wish at Bethesda Fountain.  


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