Central Park is one of the most attractive and fun spots in New York City. You wouldn’t believe there is a park of this size right in the middle of such an active and congested city. Right next to enormous 60-story skyscrapers you find Central Park with all its infinite possibilities for activities. While there are seemingly unlimited things to do in Central Park, we’ve picked out a few of our favorites. If you plan it well, you could spend the entire day in the park! Here are 5 fun Central Park activities for the whole family.
⇒ Wondering where to stay in New York City? See our hotel recommendations at the end of this post.
Take a carriage ride
While a carriage ride in Central Park is often depicted as a romantic activity you do with your love, who might pull out a ring and propose on the ride, it’s really an activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family. One carriage can fit up to 4 adults, or a family of 5 with small children. The kids will love watching the horse stroll through the park. And the adults will appreciate the breadth of things you can see in Central Park during the ride. If it’s a cold day, there’s even a blanket provided to keep you warm. You can take a 30-min ride for a quick overview of the park, or see even more on a 1-hour ride.
Go on a bike ride
You’ll notice right away that Central Park is mostly a pedestrian and bike-friendly zone. There are places that cars can drive, but traffic is very regulated so it’s safe for a runner or biker to get around without having to dodge cars. You can rent bikes for the whole family at Central Park Sightseeing. They check and maintain their bikes rigorously so you won’t have any problems on the road, and helmets are included in the rental. They will supply you with a map of things to see in the park and send you off on your way to explore. Or you can take a guided tour and the guide will show you all around to the top sights. The guided tour lasts about 2 hours.
Take a pedicab tour
An even faster way to get around the park is by pedicab. Sitting in the open-air cab, you can take in all the sights along the way, while the guide explains the different monuments you’ll see, points out plants and trees, and explains the history of the park. There’s plenty of time for pictures and stops along the route, that can take 1 or 2 hours, depending on your desires.
Enjoy the walk
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As you can tell from the map of Central Park, there are dozens of activities strewn throughout that you can stop and see or do. Taking a stroll around the park will allow you to stop off at all of the things you see along the way. You can do this at your own pace with a map, or you can take a guided walking tour with Central Park Sightseeing. No matter how you choose to do it, make sure you stop at the Central Park Zoo, the Friedsam Memorial Carousel, Belvedere Castle and any of the large open grassy areas for a moment of relaxation during your walk.
See Central Park Zoo
No matter how you choose to see Central Park (by carriage, by bike, or by foot) you’ll likely pass by the Central Park Zoo. The zoo covers 6.5 acres of the park and holds over 130 species. Stop for an hour or so to see the snow leopards and penguins. Try to go during off-peak times though or you’ll be competing for space with dozens of strollers. The park is very popular among both visitors and locals.
If you’d like to take part in any of these 5 fun activities in Central Park, the simplest way is to make a stop at Central Park Sightseeing before you arrive at the park. They are located at 56th & 6th, just two blocks from the entrance to the park. They will quickly hook you up with a rental bike, or any kind of tour you want, as well as provide you with maps and suggestions for things to see. Check their website for hours, or call them to make reservations in advance.
Where to Stay in New York City
There are so many neighborhoods to choose from in New York City. How is a first-time visitor supposed to pick? If you don’t know the city well, I recommend staying in Midtown so you can easily get to all parts of the city. Stay near a subway stop so you can get around easily. While it might be tempting to stay in Times Square, it doesn’t give you an accurate picture of how charming New York City can be and it can be really noisy and crowded. It’s best to stay outside of that area.
Here are a few of our recommended hotels. You can read reviews of book directly through any of these links (they are affiliate links, and help us keep the lights on around here):
- The Quin ⇒ Read reviews | Check current prices
- Kimpton Hotel Eventi ⇒Read reviews | Check current prices
- Intercontinental The Barclay ⇒ Read reviews | Check current prices
Need more options? Check out these Hotels in New York, New York
(We were provided with a carriage ride from Central Park Sightseeing for the purposes of providing this information to our readers. All opinions expressed in this article are our own.)
Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited 70+ countries.