New York Attractions – Central Park
New York City is known for its skyscrapers and other big-city sights – but take time as well to explore Central Park, an amazing 843-acre getaway right in the middle of the Big Apple that is the most visited urban park in the USA. There are so many fun and exciting things to see and do in the Park – declared a National Historic Landmark in 1963 – you’ll be tempted to spend your entire visit there!
A bicycle tour is one of the best ways to explore Central Park – and a fun and easy way to get around the 2.5 mile-wide park. There are six miles of drives and many flat surfaces that make for smooth riding, and hills as well for more adventurous cyclers.
If you don’t have your own bike, rent one at the Boathouse (available from April-November) or from a private concession. Feel free to wander and the rest of the city at your own pace, or arrange to take a guided bicycle tour which might point out well-known sites in the Park such as the Strawberry Fields international peace garden, the famous Central Park Carousel and the Delacorte Theater, which offers free performances of Shakespeare in the Park each summer.
The Central Park Boathouse is located in the center of park, not far from Fifth Avenue and 72nd Street. The Boathouse has been a part of the landscape since the park’s beginning, but after the original Boathouse burned down, the current structure – formally known as the Loeb Boathouse – was built in the 1950s.
Visitors can enjoy lunch or weekend brunch overlooking the Lake at the Boathouse year-round, and dinner is served from April-November. You can also rent a rowboat at the Boathouse, or for a special treat, go for a guided ride in an authentic Venetian gondola.
Additionally, the Boathouse is where “birders” come to register and record their observations of birds and other wildlife (not the 2-legged variety!) they spot.
There are two public ice skating rinks at New York’s Central Park: Lasker Rink, located mid-park between 106th and 108th Streets, which converts to an outdoor swimming pool during the summer, and the better-known Wollman Rink, named for its original benefactor, Kate Wollman, which is near the south entrance of the Park (West 59th Street and Avenue of the Americas).
Both ice skating rinks are open from late October-early April, with late hours from Wednesday-Saturday, so you can skate under the stars! In the summer, the Wollman Rink in New York City houses the Victorian Gardens Amusement Park, which offers fun rides and activities geared to children aged 2-12. The ice skating rinks are currently operated by the Trump Organization.
Central Park Zoo
There are actually four zoos (plus an aquarium!) in Central Park, but they’re known collectively as the Central Park Zoo.
The first official zoo to open in New York (and the second publicly owned zoo in the USA), the Zoo houses more than 130 different species of animals in a variety of habitats, all designed to closely recreate the animals’ natural environments.
The Zoo has three main areas – tropic, temperate and arctic – and includes an indoor rainforest, a polar bear pool, breeding programs for endangered species, a rare snow leopard exhibit and many other features. The Tisch Children’s Zoo, located within Central Park Zoo, has a petting zoo where kids can feed the animals themselves. Go to centralpark.com to search for info on the different animals housed at the Central Park Zoo in New York City.
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