Discover Central Park Like A New Yorker

A Typical Central Park Saturday In Summer

Central Park New York Like A New Yorker

Looking for a unique, completely free kick in New York City?

Try wandering Central Park, in the middle of Manhattan, but do it like a New Yorker.

Of course, there is nothing easy with being a tourist. If you're reading Central Park New York City Visit, you probably are one. We like tourists. They pay plenty of the bills around here. (See capsule below.) This guide is intended to help you stay out of the congestion, to enjoyCentral Park in ways visitors usually don't.

Your Central Park Visit

They say it's all about location, so let's start there. If as you begin to enter the park, you can see the Time Warner Center, a seek urban shopping mall, an Apple Store or the Plaza Hotel, duck inside the green space immediately. Everyone in sight is either another tourist or plotting to sell you a carriage ride.

Enter the park by navigating to the most tourist congested area near 60th Street and 5th Avenue. You can easily find it by sniffing for the unique aural presence of those things horses are best known for when someone disagrees with something you've said.

Once there, find your way around the artists who obscure a perfectly nice stairway into the park. This stairway steers you around an excess of foot traffic and takes you down to the lake without getting stuck and jostled in the main walkway where tourists cluster to have their likenesses sketched and their children's faces painted.

NYC Tourist Tip: You can do things in Cleveland for half the price, but you'd still be in Cleveland.

The lake directly in front of you is called "The Pond" for no particular reason, possibly a misguided attempt at quaintness. Even though tucked very directly beneath congested car traffic, this is truly a gorgeous spot, especially in autumn when it's rich with waterfowl and startling bursts of color.

Do not, under any circumstances, turn right when you reach the path around The Pond. In that direction are other tourists, lots of them. They are genuinely nice, polite and their kids love the ducks and turtles in the water, but you didn't come here to meet your neighbors from Omaha, did you? Of course not. You actually might have come here especially not to.

Turn left and enjoy a less congested stroll along the south rim. There are benches conveniently spaced all along this loop. Some have people quietly sitting or reading.

You can look across the water at what appears to be an uninhabited island, the Hallett Nature Sanctuary, and, to the right, more tourists recognizable by bright colors, slow motion and distance. The people dressed in black with pallid complexions are New Yorkers.

When you reach the far end of the path around The Pond, resist with all your might a temptation to climb the steps to the busy walkway where, even now, you can hear the clip clop of horses and the rumble of traffic.

Stay instead on the path as it circles the end of the lake and slowly climb alongside a gentle set of small waterfalls where the fluid emerges from no naturally conceivable place to delight walkers off the beaten path as they get more deeply into the park and the city sounds fade.

NYC Tourist Tip: The water is pumped in to create a mouth for this little stream, and you won't see it. Important to note that this indicates NYC tap water, not a fresh water spring.

As you reach the crest, you will be near the the Sheep Meadow. This is known as a quiet zone. Noise is restricted, giving visitors a rare city opportunity to sink into some silence.

If, however, as you approach the Sheep Meadow, you notice a lot of commotion on the nearby roadway and, say, bleachers packed with people, you have discovered the finish line for the New York City Marathon. If you feel like sitting for a while on the bleachers, enjoying the crowds and the endless stream of runners, take yourself away from that notion. These bleachers are not there for you. They are reserved for friends of people who know people, as they say.

A better alternative is to take the path to the right as it cuts back across the fringe of the Sheep Meadow. Near the terminus, you will find the Mall and Writers Walk.

As you stroll along the path, appreciating the magnificent rows of American Elms, wondering why so few writers are actually honored here and listening to the disco music being played for dancers on rollerblades nearby, you will doubtless be moved as you recall Justin Henry racing away from Dustin Hoffman to fly into the arms of Meryl Streep, who abandoned the child and can't see what all the fuss is about.

You might also notice that this location like most of the others rarely resembles what has been depicted on television and in the movies. Television, of course, always gets everything wrong due to the need to suck up to advertisers, but movies, you'd imagine, might do better. Of course, then, you'd have neglected to consider the critical importance of product placements.

As you approach the roadway dissecting the park in front of you, the sadly neglected Naumberg Bandshell to your right, you are faced with a difficult decision. Do you go left in search of Strawberry Fields or down and to the right to appreciate Bethesda Fountain.

Look at it this way. In neither direction are there strawberries or fields. At least, as you pass the fountain, you may have a dog or two bathing playfully, and you will certainly hear live musicians competing for airspace.

So, follow the curving path along the shore with tourists in rowboats and even one gondola enjoying the water, and you come upon a long line of people waiting for the privilege of renting a vessel of their own. Don't do that. Nobody should waste time standing in line in a park, and even in Venice, locals do not ride gondolas, except when carted away for burials.

In need of a little rest or amusement? For a few happy moments, watch the boaters, many of them trying to master rowing for the first time as they swerve to avoid each other and the rocky shores.

NYC Tourist Tip: In the nearby Boathouse, overpriced food and alcohol are available, and while becoming slightly tipsy, you can observe other tourists with less discretion row soberly off toward the West Side.

Now, you are right on the cusp of the two most delightful locations in the park.

Saunter down the gentle slope across from the Boathouse and discover Conservatory Waters. There is no conservatory, of course–you're still in New York–but it's still a peaceful retreat under shady trees as you'd expect, just no conservatory. Sorry.

The smooth surface of this pond is rippled by gentle winds, ducks and remote controlled boats steered by lucky children. A great place to relax and people watch. Lots of dogs being walked, which should alert you to the fact that you are among locals, soaking up the park as Olmstead and Vieux intended. Apartment towers where you and I cannot afford to live line 5th Avenue above the bordering trees.

To discover what the creators of the park intended–No, it did not emerge from natural forces like this–go back toward the Boathouse and find the path leading into the woods behind the parking lot and bike rentals. As you follow it uphill, you enter The Ramble, a carelessly linked set of trails that intersect, divide and lead along passages, ravines and hidden ponds. Even in the high tourist season, this area is quiet and sheltering. And unfortunately small.

Just north is Belvedere Castle, the last place where you'll need to dodge tourists, and if for some strange reason, you'd like to sit on some steps and watch others strolling and sunbathing in the meadow below, you have that option. Most of them are New Yorkers enjoy the nearby retreat we treasure all year round.

NYC Tourist Tip: Belvedere Castle is where the official Central Park weather conditions are officially recorded, but nobody knows why.

Aside from the unpicturesque butt of the Metropolitan Museum plunging into the park near the inexplicable sight of Cleopatra's Needle, everything from here north is delightful. You can jump out at any time to indulge in the delights of the Museum Mile along 5th Avenue, in case you've had a bit too much wholesomeness already.

You can take a lap around the old reservoir, now curiously named for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the impressively kept Conservatory Garden and maybe the more wooded, less developed area on the Harlem end of the park.

By now, you are almost certainly lost in the vast urban garden and, hopefully, appreciate more than ever why so many of us pass many idle hours wandering and appreciating.

Yes, I know I didn't mention the Central Park Zoo, a truly delightful and congested space, or Wollman Rink, the single location that would not be out of place in downtown Cleveland.

Downtown Cleveland, by all accounts, is a wonderfully restored and historic venue, but the differences between it and Central Park could fill a book.

The Zoo can be found easily easily enough while barely entering the park, and the rink, well, I was hoping you could avoid it. Noisy as it is, probably not, but I think you'd enjoy it more in Cleveland where it could be the perfect downtown arena it was designed to be.

In Central Park? Well, what beauty exists forever without a blemish?

Recent Photos Along the Trail

Waiting to take visitors on a tour
Waiting to take visitors on a tour | Source
With a homeless dude for company.
With a homeless dude for company. | Source

A Little Jazz in Central Park


We love tourists in New York. Aside from the fact that, having the time we don't to slow down and enjoy themselves, they create hazards for those of us hurrying getting to meeting or commuting, they pay a lot of the bills in these parts.

Here in the Big Apple, we are taxed nearly to extinction. We have your garden variety Federal Tax, a State Tax higher than any others by a lot, and for a topper, a City Tax. Those are just the income variety. After that, we pay a whopping 8.875% sales tax.

You can imagine that the City Fathers must stay up late concocting ways to, uhm, distribute our largesse.

We need you, tourists, all of you. We'd be sinking in a sea of debt without you. Make that a deeper sea of debt.

Where is Central Park?

A markerCentral Park, New York -
Central Park, New York, NY, USA
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Sandyspider 6 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

Great tips if I am ever in New York. My husband always tells me, that I act too much like a tourist.

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