The most-visited park in the US, Central Park draws 40 million people to its lawns and trails each year, and for good reason. A National Historic Landmark right in the heart of Manhattan, the park sprawls over 843 acres (341 ha), offering a breath of fresh air and a welcome change of scenery from the urban jungle of the city. You could lose yourself for hours wandering winding trails and scoping out architectural follies, memorials, and fountains throughout the park, or you could choose to get a different perspective by opting for a more unusual guided experience. Uncover the secrets of Central Park like you’ve never seen it before with these out-of-the-ordinary explorations.
- Central Park has starred as the backdrop to hundreds of movies and TV shows, from 1908’s Romeo and Juliet to Gossip Girl. Go behind the scenes of your favorite Big Apple-based flicks on a movie-centric tour of the park with On Location Tours. Skip between filming locations like the spot where Macauley Culkin fed pigeons in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, step into Audrey Hepburn’s footsteps at the Bandshell seen in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, remember When Harry Met Sally at the Boathouse Café, and scope out the spots where the well-heeled gals of Sex and the City walked and talked.
- 843 acres is a lot of ground to cover on foot. Swap your sneakers for two wheels and take on the park’s trails and paths by bike on a guided tour with Blazing Saddles. Loop up the West Side Greenway, pedal to park landmarks like the Central Park Zoo, Strawberry Fields (the John Lennon memorial), and Bethesda Fountain, listening to facts and stories about park’s remarkable development and history along the way. After the tour, the fun continues—your ticket lets you hang onto your bike to keep exploring on your own for the rest of the day.
- Snap memorable photos around New York by day, and return to Central Park after the sun goes down to capture postcard-worthy images of the illuminated park by night. The pros at New York Photo Safari can provide tips on aperture, ISO, and shutter speed to make sure you capture perfectly lit and well-exposed pictures of the City that Never Sleeps during a nighttime photography lesson. Catch the reflection of lit-up skyscrapers in the Reservoir and discover the basics of low-light photography as you experience the park after dark.
- To uncover fun trivia and challenge yourself with games, grab your smartphone and follow the clues on an Urban Adventure Quest for an engaging scavenger hunt through Central Park. As you solve puzzles, you’re led to landmarks like Central Park Mall, Belvedere Castle, and the Wollman Ice Rink, learning about the history of the city and racing against the clock as you go. If you’re traveling with a group, you can even complete the course on opposing teams to add a little friendly competition to the quest.
- If you want to take advantage of Central Park’s trails and exercise-dedicated areas, you’ll be in good company—the park’s a veritable outdoor gym for New Yorkers who come here to jog and bike year-round. Sign up for a workout class with Fit Tours NYC to get your sweat on and sightsee at the same time. You might blast through a circuit of high interval exercises, take in the sights during a fun 5k jog, or stroll to serene spots for some early morning yoga posing.
How will you experience nature next time you’re in the urban jungle?