Fun Things To Do In Central Park -- Visiting New York's Central Park
Walking Through Central Park
Central Park has always been one of my favorite places to visit in New York City. As soon as you enter the park, it's easy to forget that you're in an urban environment. And no wonder -- the huge park, 843 acres, to be exact, is home to all sorts of wildlife, including over 26,000 trees and more than 200 different types of birds. Needless to say, it's very easy to get lost in Central Park, especially as you wonder through some of the less populated areas.
On nice days, my husband and I simply enjoy strolling through Central Park. One of the best things to do is to bring a blanket and a picnic basket and settle down on the Great Lawn or one of the other expanses of grass. It's also fun to climb up on the large outcroppings of rocks that are scattered throughout the park and take in the beautiful scenery surrounding you.
However, while Central Park is a lovely place to people watch, bird watch or simply relax, it's much more than merely a park filled with plants and trees. There are also many fun things to do in Central Park, ranging from concerts to recreational activities. For instance, did you know that there is a carousel in Central Park? Or a puppet theater? Or kayak rentals? Given how much there is to do in Central Park, you can easily spend an entire day here during your next visit to the Big Apple.
So the next time you are in NYC, put aside plenty of time to check out Central Park. Don't just walk through it, but stop, listen and do as much as you can in this iconic urban oasis. Below are my picks for the best things to do in Central Park.
Central Park Zoo
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Best Things To Do In Central Park
1. Visit The Central Park Zoo (830 5th Avenue, between 63rd and 64th Streets): The Central Park Zoo is one of my favorite New York City attractions. Years ago, the zoo was a depressing place to visit since the animals were kept in cramped cages, but they did a major overhaul and these days, the zoo is open and beautiful. Though it's small -- it only takes about an hour or two to see the entire place -- there are many animals to admire, all divided into sections. Some include the Polar Circle, which is home to polar bears and hundreds of adorable penguins that you can watch slided and dive into a makeshift ocean environment. Then there's my favorite section, the Tropic Zone, which contains a huge indoor rainforest. What's great about the rainforest is that it's completely open so as you walk through it, you're surrounded by various birds and primates. There's then a separate area where you can see some more animals that are in private habitats, like the gorgeous golden lion tamarins. The zoo also has several outdoor exhibits that are right in the woods, as well as the Tisch Children's Zoo. It's a great place for children and adults alike to visit. For more information, head to www.centralparkzoo.com.
2. See a show at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater (West Side Of The Park at 79th Street): In the age of video games and talking dolls, marionettes may seem like an "old fashioned" kind of entertainment, but you can still see a marionette performance at Central Park's Swedish Cottage. This theater actually houses one of the few marionette companies left in the United States and each performer creates and produces his or her own show. For more information, head to http://www.centralpark.com.
3. Ring in New Year's with the Midnight Run (Begins by the 72nd Street Traverse by 5th Avenue): Every December 31, athletic party-goers can participate in the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run. Runners and walkers gather around 11:30 p.m. to engage in music and dancing. Many of the participants don costumes; in the years that I've done this, there have always been at least four or five "New Year's babies" dressed in nothing but diapers. At midnight, the starting gun goes off and fireworks boom in the distance. The four-mile course then takes you through the park in the dark, which is eerie and beautiful, especially since most people will stay away from Central Park at night. At the two-mile mark is a champagne stop and at the end of the race, you can get replenishing foods, such as bagels and bananas. It's a lot of fun and a healthy way to begin to New Year. For more information, head to www.nyrr.org.
4. Ride the Central Park Carousel (Mid-park at 64th Street): If you have kids, or want to feel like a kid again, then take a whirl on this old-fashioned carousel. As you spin around and take in the views of the trees surrounding you, it's easy to get lost in time and space. I especially love riding it on a sunny day when I want to just go to the park to clear my head and forget about life's stresses for a while. This is the perfect way to do so! For more information, head to http://www.centralpark.com.
5. Rent a rowboat or bicycle at the Loeb Boat House (East 72nd Street at Park Drive N): If you want to get a different view of Central Park, then I recommend renting a rowboat and traveling through the vast waterways of the park. You'll float under the many bridges, past swans and ducks. I didn't even know that you could go boating at Central Park until my husband took me -- and it was a very romantic way to spend an afternoon. One time, we even saw a wedding take place at the park, which added to the experience. For more information, head to www.thecentralparkboathouse.com.
6. Enjoy a Shakespeare In The Park performance (The Delacorte Theater, in the park near 79th Street or 81st Street and 5th Avenue): Shakespeare In The Park has been going on each summer since 1954. The performances are free, but you have to get tickets -- which are given out on a first-come, first-serve basis the day of the play. This is a great opportunity to relax and see some talented, young actors at their best -- without spending a dime. For more information, head to www.shakespeareinthepark.org.
7. Go skating in Wollman Rink (830 5th Avenue): In the winter, you can go ice skating at Rockefeller Center, but if you don't care for the urban setting and want something that feels a little more natural, then Wollman Rink is for you. The outdoor skating rink feels a little like a pond and as you skate, you get the gorgeous views of Central Park in the winter, as well as New York City's skyline. It's a great way to celebrate the holiday season or to get rid of the winter blues. For more information, head to www.wollmanskatingrink.com.