Memorial Day is the official kick-off to summer, and Central Park is one of the city’s favorite outdoor destinations throughout the season. The proverbial “lung” of New York City, Central Park is where you’ll see all sorts of activities happening, from people doing absolutely nothing and “chilling” to kids and families exploring and enjoying every corner with a myriad of things to do. While we could write chapters about everything you could visit, here are some of our favorite spots in the park. www.centralparknyc.org
Set in the northeast corner of Central Park is Harlem Meer, the second largest man-made body of water in Central Park. Kids can do catch-and-release fishing and explore the Meer’s two playgrounds. Swimming is also available at the nearby Lasker Rink-turned-swimming pool. Sunset dancing takes place on the terrace at 110th St., adjacent to The Charles A. Dana Discovery Center. Stop by on a Sunday afternoon from 2 pm-4 pm for a lakeside music performance.
Location: Eastside from 106th to 110th Street, enter along Fifth Avenue or from within the park
No trip to Central Park is complete without a visit to Belvedere Castle, a lookout-like structure appropriately named for the beautiful views its setting affords. From the two balconies of the castle, you’ll get panoramic vistas of the park and a privileged look at the Delacorte Theater, home of Shakespeare in the Park. Kids can participate in different activities at the Castle from storytelling to using microscopes and telescopes to observe natural history artifacts. The Castle is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am – 5pm.
Close by is the Shakespeare Garden, an informal jumble of flowers, trees and pathways, inspired by the works of Shakespeare. The area is usually very tranquil as most people don’t know about it. A real treat.
Location: Mid-Park at 79th Street
The Ramble gives a hint at New York City’s geographic past, with unspoiled paths and greenery comprising 38 acres. You might want to grab a park map from the Information Center at the Dairy (just south of the 66th St. transverse) before you set off here, as it’s easy to get lost. You can also pick up a field pack for the kids at Belvedere Castle. Keep an eye out for birds; The Ramble is a major migratory route and a shelter for the more than 270 species that have been spotted in the park.
Location: Mid-Park from 73rd to 79th Streets
Be a kid again and take a ride on the Carousel, one of the largest merry-go-rounds in the country. The Carousel has progressed significantly since 1871, when a blind mule and a horse powered the ride by walking on a treadmill in an underground pit. Close to 250,000 people ride the Carousel each year for just $2 per ride.
Location: Mid-Park at 64th Street
That's it for part one of the best places to visit in Central Park. If you want to see the rest of the list, go to part two of the best places to visit in Central Park.