Central Park in New York: The ultimate guide to NYC’s backyard

Discover everything you need to know about Central Park in New York, including hidden gems, perennial favorites, can’t-miss events and more

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Photograph: Fiora Watts
Central Park in New York, spring 2013
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Photograph: Fiora Watts
Central Park in New York, spring 2013

Map out your next trip to Central Park in New York with our handy rundown of the park’s must-see attractions. Whether you’re looking for a free tour, a serene picnicking spot, an off-the-beaten-path area or a historical monument, we’ve got you covered. You’ll also find the lowdown on tourist-friendly musts—the Central Park Zoo, boat rides on the Lake, the Bow Bridge, Belvedere Castle—that are perfect for out-of-town friends and family.

RECOMMENDED: Full list of top New York attractions

Things to do in Central Park

Things to do

Concerts and events in Central Park

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Things to do

Picnic spots in Central Park

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Things to do

Ten things you must do in Central Park

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Things to do

Lesser-known Central Park spots

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Attractions

Central Park Zoo

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Attractions

Belvedere Castle

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Attractions

Conservatory Garden

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Attractions Buy tickets

Great Lawn

You'll find plenty of crowds on this beautiful field in the middle of Central Park; warmer temperatures bring out people picnicing, playing Frisbee or sunbathing. The lawn had fallen into disrepair by the 1980s, but an extensive renovation in the mid-’90s restored it to its lush glory. Dotted with baseball diamonds, the lawn is occasionally the site of live music performances.

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Rumsey Playfield

Every summer, Central Park SummerStage fills Rumsey Playfield with every type of music under the sun. After the SummerStage concerts (free) and their benefit shows (not free) conclude for the year, the space hosts other paying gigs, minus the SummerStage name.

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Art

Arsenal Gallery

This exhibition space is located near the 64th Street entrance to the park, and hosts a variety of shows through the year.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Attractions

Naumburg Bandshell

The onetime site of a Martin Luther King Jr. speech and John Lennon's eulogy, the neoclassical Naumburg Bandshell is a Central Park landmark and the go-to place for outdoor performances and festivals year-round.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Museums and attractions near Central Park

American Museum of Natural History

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Museums

Rose Center for Earth and Space

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Museums

The Frick Collection

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Museums

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Museums

Museum of the City of New York

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Museums

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

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Things to do

Lincoln Center

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Pictures of Central Park

Shopping and style

Street fashion: Sheep Meadow

Even on a rainy spring day, fashionable New Yorkers and tourists showed how they make transitional summer style work in Central Park’s Sheep’s Meadow. The weather in NYC can quickly go from chilly and rainy to a scorching summer in a matter of days. In Sheep Meadow in Central Park, New Yorkers and tourists demonstrated how they make transitional summer style work with lightweight button-up shirts, sun hats, ballet flats and cardigans. Some went all out in warm-weather garb, including neon tanks, flip-flops and denim shorts. Most popular in Shopping & Style Best shoes for men spring 2013: sneakers, boots and dress shoes Shop for the latest spring styles with our roundup of the best shoes for men. Find sneakers, loafers, dress and casual shoes—many under $100. We’ve rounded up the spring's best shoes for men. Browse the season's top styles, including sneakers, loafers, oxfords and boat shoes. There are plenty of pairs that cost under $100 from budget-friendly brands such as Aldo, Converse and Topman, as well as higher-end footwear from labels including Camper and Vince Camuto. Find more of the top shoes for men in this season’s trends inspired by hip-hop and country music, or browse the goods at these independent sneaker stores, purveyors of dress shoes and resources for big- and small- shoes. RECOMMENDED: Spring fashion trends 2013 Follow Cristina Velocci on Twitter: @cvelocci You might also like Best jackets and cardigans for men this spring 2013 Shop for the be

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Red War 2013 in Central Park

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Winter in Central Park

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Music

Beach House at Central Park SummerStage

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Music

Alabama Shakes at Central Park SummerStage

The small-town band shakes up SummerStage with Diamond Rugs and Robert Ellis. A line of more than 500 people waited on Sunday afternoon to get a peak at Alabama Shakes in a free concert at Central Park SummerStage. While most concertgoers gave up and pitched camp in the surrounding area, Alabama Shakes grooved loud enough on hits like "Hold On" and "I Found You" for those scattered all over the green space to hear. Opening the afternoon bash was Robert Ellis, who awed the audience with just his guitar, his voice and a stool. He was followed by Diamond Rings, a side project turned full-on band started by Deer Tick member John McCauley. A good time was had by all—in, out and around the park. TONY photographers David Gettens and Jolie Ruben captured the afternoon set.

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Music

M83 at Central Park SummerStage

The French electro crew hit Central Park. Despite a heartbreakingly quiet speaker decibel, M83 dazzled in the open air at Central Park's Summerstage Wednesday night. The set list pleased both longtime fans and recent converts, drawing from last year's rightfully lauded Hurry Up, We're Dreaming as well as from the band's gold-filled catalogue, which spans 11 years. Though the sold-out crowd was generally talkative and distracted, appearing more captivated by their smartphones than anything else, an exceptionally sexy rendition of "Midnight City" (damn, that sax sounded good live!) and the standout encore track "Outro"—complete with string section—succeeded in fully captivating the audience. TONY photographer Loren Wohl was there to snap the action.

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