Escape the shadow of the crowded skyscrapers for an all-American afternoon enjoying the sights and sounds of Central Park.
For an afternoon away from the swarming streets of New York City, why not follow the example of the locals and make a bee-line for the expansive lawns of Central Park. Designed by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted, the park opened in 1857 and has been a treasured gem in the heart of the urban sprawl ever since.
With a network of 91 kilometres of paths, 21 play areas and rambling expanses of woodland (not to mention the lake and streams) it is a great place to unwind and shake off the pressures of the city. Wander past the beautiful Bethesda Fountain, stroll through the European-style Conservatory Garden or admire the edifice of The Arsenal, a faux medieval fortress-like structure built as a munitions depot in 1850. Climb up to Belvedere Castle for the best views across the Great Lawn, Turtle Pond and The Ramble.
Central Park covers a huge stretch of land and is home to a vast number of attractions. What to see depends largely on whereabouts in the park you find yourself. For suggestions of the best places to visit, check in with a volunteer at one of the information booths dotted throughout the area and pick up a park map.
Highlights include the Central Park Zoo, where you can get close to the animals all year round and the Boathouse which has rowing boats available to hire from April to November. In the winter, you can take a spin on one of the skating rinks or snuggle up under a blanket as you as you are driven round the park in a horse and carriage.
Fans of Beatles singer John Lennon may want to pay tribute at Strawberry Fields, an area dedicated to his memory. Before his untimely death in 1980, John Lennon had moved to New York and lived in an apartment overlooking the park. He was a well-known peace activist and this dedicated quiet zone is a fitting tribute to his legacy.
If you start to feel peckish, nibble on a pretzel from one of the food carts or stop for a sit-down meal at the Loeb Boathouse Restaurant – well known for serving up the finest food and the best views. For a less formal atmosphere, why not grab a burger at the Ballplayers House, not far from the carousel.
Central Park sits between Upper West and the Upper East Side and can easily be reached by bus or subway.