- Type: Sightseeing
- Time to Spend: Half Day to Full Day
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This part-park, part-museum, part-concert hall swallows central Manhattan, and many of the city's most notable attractions are situated next to it or within its limits (the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History, to name a few). But travelers insist that you shouldn't just pass through Central Park on your way to another place. This 843-acre Eden is a favorite of New Yorkers and tourists; you can come here to exercise, dine, go to the zoo and more.
Almost everyone has a positive impression of the park, but no one has quite the same experience, or recommends that you do quite the same thing. There's an almost impossible amount of sights to see here (including 21 playgrounds, 48 fountains, monuments or sculptures and 36 bridges), but here's a shortlist:
Alice in Wonderland: This 11-foot tall statue sits upon a magic mushroom off 75th Street in the lower east side of the park. She's surrounded by the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire cat, and plenty of fascinated little kids.
Bethesda Fountain: This romantic fountain's name refers to a pool in Jerusalem with healing powers. While you're there, be sure to snap a few photos of the Angel of the Waters sculpture that tops this mid-park sight. You might recognize her: She was featured prominently in the opening credits of the HBO miniseries, Angels in America.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir: New Yorkers love to jog by this beautiful 106-acre body of water located mid-park. It's especially scenic in fall, when the surrounding trees are ablaze with seasonal colors.
Loeb Boathouse: During the warm weather months you can rent a boat, bike or gondola from this Victorian-style boathouse and restaurant, located around East Park Drive next to the Bethesda Fountain.
Strawberry Fields: Named after John Lennon's song, this lower west park area (at W. Park Drive and W. 72nd Street) is across the street from where the singer was assassinated in 1980. Visitors like to come here to eat lunch, admire the landscaping, or pay tribute to the Beatle.
Wollman Memorial Rink: This lower-east side spot is particularly popular with young families. In winter it's a popular ice skating rink; come summer, it's where you'll find the Victorian Gardens Amusement Park.
Central Park is open from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m., but as with any out-of-doors site in a major city you're better off visiting in the day or early evening. Check out the park's official website for maps, information on all the activities available and special events.