6 Stops to Make in Central Park

On the way back from Amsterdam, Dylan and I flew in to NYC where he recently moved into an apartment. I stopped over for the weekend and had him as my personal city guide. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, Dylan took Akshay (another college friend now living in NYC) and me on his very own Central Park tour. I knew the park was massive, but I had no idea just how sprawling it really was. We spent two hours walking around at a fairly brisk pace, but there were innumerable places you could pause and spend an hour or two. I’ll share my favorite six stops to make in Central Park here, courtesy of Dylan’s terrific tour guide skills.

the central park street sign in NY

1. Row Boat and Gondola Rentals

You can rent row boats and gondolas at the Loeb Boathouse for the afternoon in this romantic little pond, with incredible views of the NYC skyline just behind you. Not a bad date idea! Rentals begin at 10 am and run until dusk.

Views of the rowboats in Central Park

a rowboat with a white flag on the lake

2. The Belvedere Castle

Yes, there is a castle in Central Park! I had no idea either.

The Belvedere Castle in NYC

3. The Sculptures

Throughout the park, there are over 30 different sculptures both artistic and historic. Keep an eye out for our favorite children’s story teller, this boy and his wolf, and the fountain on the Bethesda terrace- some of my personal favorites. My only complaint is that of the 22 statues depicting historical figures in the park, the few women included are fictional, such as Alice in Wonderland and Mother Goose.  Natalie Lopez wrote a great piece interviewing feminist Coline Jenkins and her “mission to change that number” for more on that here: http://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/tradition/a10240263/female-statues-central-park/.

an inscription of a statue in Central Park

4. Tiny Paradises in NYC 

There are several large areas where you can lay down a blanket and take in the sunshine, like this little tree-lined sanctuary. While Central Park is indeed a green oasis, the impressive skylines that rise far above the trees won’t let you forget that you’re still in the middle of a concrete jungle.

Looking at the NYC skyline from across the fields of Central Park

5. The Mall

This is the spot where all of the street artists perform, practice, or push their product. You can find all sorts of beautiful NYC prints, sketch artists who will draw your portrait for a few bucks, comedians, magicians, dancers, pianists, and just about anything else a New Yorker could dream up to do in a park.

The mall in Central Park

6. Athletic Arenas

Within the sprawling grounds of Central Park, you can find places to partake in just about any athletic endeavor you could want: ice skating, hand ball, running, volleyball, croquet, lawn ball, tennis, basketball, and more. With the park being open 365 days a year, 6 am in the morning to 1 am at night, Central Park is definitely the place to get your outdoor athletic fix in this giant city.

volleyball courts in Central Park

Thanks for reading! Are you Planning a trip to NYC soon and looking for travel advice?

Join the Suitcase Six mailing list and you’ll get access to 3 freebies to help you plan your next adventure!

After you sign up, you’ll start receiving the following freebies: 50 Practical Travel Tips from Solo Lady Backpackers (a 6-page PDF), 20 Tips for Sustainable Travel (a checklist), and 30 Jobs to See the World.

Want to read more about the US? Head to the USA archives for the full library.

6 Stops to Make in Central Park