New Yorkers and others visit and relax in Central Park with many attractions to enjoy from the zoo to the carousel to Shakespeare in the Park.
In the middle of New York City, stands an 843 acre mass of trees, grass, and rock called Central Park. There are 21 playgrounds, a zoo, 125 drinking fountains, an ice skating rink, much, much more. And, believe it or not, the park is entirely artificial. Dirt and rocks were brought in and ponds and lakes were created.
Tisch Children Zoo
Delacorte Musical Clock, decorated by six rotating bronze animals, stands between Tisch Children’s Zoo and Central Park Wildlife Center. In the zoo, children see potbellied pigs, goats, sea lions, polar bears, and reptiles. In Enchanted Forest, the zoo’s centerpiece features a make-believe forest, and spider-web kids can climb on. The aviary houses frogs, turtles, and birds. The children’s theater and the celebrated 1908 Central Park Carousel are nearby. The carousel, one of the largest, has 58 hand-carved horses and chariots.
Harlem Meer is Central Park’s northernmost and largest pond. Visit the Dana Discovery Center there for family educational, fishing, and seasonal activities Halloween Pumpkin Sail of lit pumpkins on the water.
Loeb Boathouse and Conservatory Water
Visit Loeb Boathouse for a ride in the 22-acre lake in the middle of Central Park. If hungry, visitors can have a bite at the Boathouse Restaurant. For water, on a smaller scale, visit the Conservatory Water to see people sail their handcrafted miniature remote-controlled boats. If you want, rent a miniature boat at Kerbs Boathouse and give “sailing” a try.
Near the Conservatory Water stands the Central Park sculptures. Children love climbing on the Hans Christian Anderson piece. Often artists gathers here to entertain children and adults alike with balloons and caricature drawings. A bit further away, sits a statue devoted to the 1865 classic Alice in Wonderland written by Lewis Carroll. A storyteller performs here each week during the summer.
Further north is Belvedere Castle, the second-high elevation in the park. Nearby is the great lawn where Simon and Garfunkel had their famous reunion in 1981 and famous people like Pope John Paul II and the Dali Lama made appearances.
Shakespeare in the Park
Small children enjoy the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre. Shows are based on a fairy tale. Older children and adults will enjoy the performances in the summer at Delacorte Theatre, home of Shakespeare in the Park. Arrive early to receive the free tickets for the 8:00 PM shows. They go quickly.
Rent bicycles and take a carriage ride for a great fall or spring activity and even better on weekends when the park is closed to motorists. In November, 35,000 runners end up in Central Park after racing through the five boroughs. For winter fun, the park has two skating rinks – Lasker and Wollman Rinks. Lasker is located in the middle of the park while Wollman Rink, at 33,000 square feet, has a beautiful backdrop of trees, hills, and Manhattan’s skyline and can accommodate 1,500 at a time.
John Lennon and Strawberry Fields
Strawberry Fields, a 2.5-acre landscaped section located on Central Park West at West 72nd Street, is dedicated to the memory of the musician John Lennon and named after the Lennon/McCartney song Strawberry Fields Forever. Strawberry Fields was inaugurated on what would have been Lennon’s 45th birthday, 9 October 1985, by his widow Yoko Ono, who had underwritten the project. Strawberry Fields is direct across from the Dakota Apartments, where Lennon lived for the latter part of his life.
Let me take you down to New York City and experience Central Park in the summer. The next time experience the budding trees and plants in spring. Then maybe winter. You get the point. It never ends. Strawberry Fields forever.