Things to do in Central Park New York

By Stuart Bak

Central Park is the largest green space in Manhattan, attracting millions of visitors each year. Situated in the heart of the city, this public park serves as a meeting area for visitors and locals alike and stands as an emblem of New York City culture. Whether you’re looking to catch a rowboat on the lake, visit your favorite furry friends at the zoo, or watch classical theater in the great outdoors, you’ll find plenty of reasons to love this urban oasis. So, if you’re thinking about exploring this area of the city, have a read through our comprehensive list of things to do whilst you’re there!

Hit the Classics

One of our favorite things to do in Central Park is taking a horse-and-carriage tour. A classic New York activity and total crowd-pleaser, the carriage rides at Central Park provide a great way to get to know the city. Along the way, you’ll pass by famous landmarks, beautiful greenery and movie sites. In addition, your tour guide will take you through the unique history, culture and architecture which makes New York New York. Don’t forget to bring your phone so you can capture the magnificent towering structures and interesting statues!

To appreciate the natural beauty of the park in all its glory, head over to the Conservatory Garden. Since its opening in 1937, the enclosure has been delighting visitors and locals alike with its spectacular floral displays and gleaming water lily ponds. The garden is made up of three areas, each with a distinct design: the French-style North Garden, the Italianate Center Garden, and the English-style South Garden. Take your time exploring and stop to check out the Vanderbilt Gate and Untermeyer Fountain.

Those travelling with family might want to check out Central Park Zoo. Since its opening in 1864, the institute has grown to become one of the most popular destinations of its kind in the city. Situated at the southeast corner of the park, the zoo seeks to provide an engaging and educational experience, with a focus on the restoration of endangered species populations. Upon entrance, you’ll be able to view over 130 species of animals and learn more about where they come from. Before you go, make sure that you check the schedule for penguin and sea lion feedings!

Take in the Views

Though Central Park is recognized as one of New York’s most beloved outdoor attractions, it’s home to many impressive and unique architectural marvels. Located at Vista Rock, Belvedere Castle is a total must-see for architecture buffs and history geeks alike. Visitors can take tours to view its stunning interiors, as well as an expansive collection of historic artefacts. In addition, this beautiful folly grants stunning views of Turtle Pond and Great Lawn, the Ramble, and the bordering cityscape.

See Central Park from a whole new perspective with the next item on our list. From April through to November, visitors can catch a rowboat to admire some of the park’s most picturesque sights. On the ride, you’ll be able to get a closeup of the gorgeous greenery, birds and butterflies, all flourishing in this unique manmade living system. Afterwards, why not grab a bite at the Loeb Boathouse restaurant whilst admiring the beautiful scenery? We couldn’t think of a better way to spend the afternoon!

If you’re visiting New York in the springtime, you might want to check out the cherry blossom trees, which should be in full bloom around this time of the year. The best place for cherry blossom peeping runs from 72nd street right through to 96th street, with the biggest clusters around the Reservoir, Cherry Hill and Pilgrim Hill.

Try Something New

After a long day of exploring, you’ll probably need to stop for some sustenance. Luckily for you, Central Park’s culinary offerings are next to none. Nestled in a quiet idyllic setting, Tavern on the Green serves as the perfect spot for visitors to enjoy a bite whilst taking in those captivating views. But what supports the restaurant’s popularity is the delicious food: grilled lobster and sweet pea risotto, roasted garlic shrimp, and oysters with Asian pear mignonette sauce. With its warm atmosphere, beautiful décor, and breathtaking scenery, this place is well worth the stop.

Central Park isn’t just a pretty face; in fact, it serves as a host to a wide variety of interesting and exciting activities. All throughout the summertime, Shakespeare in the Park works to bring first-class productions to a broad audience. Presenting classical theater against the wondrous backdrop of Central Park, this longstanding tradition provides a unique cultural experience to remember. A thoroughly remarkable and captivating experience, this one should be in everyone’s itineraries!

Another one of our favorite events held in Central Park is the New York Philharmonic. Each year, the event brings people together from all walks of life to enjoy live classical music right in the heart of the city. Whether you’re a classic music maestro or a casual listener, the experience of one of America's most revered symphony orchestras playing against the backdrop of the starry night sky is a magical experience you won’t want to miss out on. We recommend taking your own food and drink, as well as a waterproof liner to sit on, since there is no official seating.

As one of the top New York attractions, Central Park perfectly embodies the city with its bustling atmosphere, historic architecture, and picturesque landscapes as far as the eye can see. The area itself is home to some one-of-a-kind structures, hidden treasures, and exciting activities which can be enjoyed all year round. In addition, you can find seasonal events and programs which are sure to blow your mind. During the springtime, check out the cherry blossom trees, and in the height of summer, enjoy classic music under the sparkling night sky.

To make the best out of your vacation, check out the New York Pass. For more information, connect with us on Instagram.

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Manhattan
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Things to Do in Uptown Manhattan

Things to Do in Uptown Manhattan Looking for things to do in Uptown Manhattan? Manhattan’s northernmost territory known as “Uptown” is made up mostly of residential areas, world-famous museums, and iconic landmarks with lots of attractions and tours. There’s no shortage of fun things to do in Uptown Manhattan. One of Uptown Manhattan’s most popular features is Central Park, the first public landscaped park in the US now a hive of activity for locals and tourists alike. Whether you opt to take a guided tour of the 770 square acres or plan to have a picnic and just relax in the park, be sure to explore Central Park and see some its highlight features during your trip! Guided Tours in Uptown Manhattan South of the park, you can access guided walking or biking tours such as Central Park Bicycle Rentals & Tours or Central Park Sightseeing Walking Tour that allow you to explore the park with an expert or journey along at your own pace with a rental bike. Central Park isn't the only area of Uptown worth exploring; the creative and historic borough of Harlem is also located in Uptown. Get to know the neighborhood by taking one of the many tours offered in the area, like the Hallelujah! Gospel Wednesday Tour , Harlem One Stop Cultural & Heritage Walking Tour,or Step-On Group Tour Packages. These are great introductions to the area that explore the history of cultures within the borough. Museums in Uptown Manhattan Museum Mile is located in Uptown, consisting of a section of Fifth Avenue from 105th street to 82nd street on the East side of Central Park. This portion of Fifth Avenue's nickname is due to the many great cultural art museums located there. Some of the museums along the Museum Mile include the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, and El Museo Del Barrio. On the West side of Central Park, you’ll find gems like the New York Historical Society, a great resource to brush up on New York specific history, and the American Museum of Natural History, which features changing exhibits that focus on the history and development of multiple species on Earth through lively artifacts and interactive displays. Further uptown, in Manhattan’s Inwood neighborhood, a few of New York City’s most unique historical museums reside: The Dyckman Farmhouse Museum and the Cloisters Museum and Gardens. The Dyckman Farmhouse Museum is the last farmhouse located inside of New York City and visitors can view the old colonial farmhouse and get to know the rural history that existed in New York prior to the large skyscrapers. The Cloisters Museum and Gardens in Fort Tryon Park is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art where you can expect to see breathtaking art pieces with a bit of a twist. Its collection of over 5,000 objects exclusively features art and architecture stemming from the medieval ages, including sculptures and written text from the 12th to 15th centuries. Get a taste for the rich culture and history instilled in Harlem, a neighborhood that was at the forefront of artistic creations with Jazz musicians and poets by visiting The Studio Museum in Harlem. Many of the art exhibits featured in the museum were created by artists of African descent and some native to the Harlem region.
Shashia Mitchell
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Things To Do In NYC For Chinese New Year For Tourists

Spending time in NYC for Chinese New Year? Ring it in on January 25, 2020 and get ready for the year of the rat with plenty of special events in the Big Apple where you can celebrate. After celebrating the traditional New Year holiday on January 1, it’s round two with the Chinese New Year. From firecracker celebrations and wild dance performances to martial arts demonstrations, there’s plenty of ways to have fun during the many events in the city. The streets in New York turn festive during the celebration of the Chinese New Year. Free entry to tons of popular New York attractions and activities you can include in your Chinese New Year celebration are included on The New York Pass®. Used by over 3.5 million travelers, the New York Pass is the ultimate sightseeing pass, which includes admission to 90+ attractions. Learn more about the New York Pass benefits & how to save up to 70% off attractions. Here’s a list of 9 fun things to do in NYC for Chinese New Year: 1. Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade and Festival [caption id="attachment_1682" align="alignnone" width="768"] 18th Annual New York City Lunar New Year Parade (Image credit: betterchinatown.com)[/caption] This celebrated parade is vibrant and colorful with its dragon dancers, lion dancers, marching bands, and floats. This coming year, it’s the “Year of the Rat.” The 2020 parade route stretches from Mott to Chatham Square to East Broadway, past the grand entrance to the Manhattan Bridge and towards Grand Street right next to Sara D. Roosevelt Park. The parade is a positive riot of color, costume and conviviality that lasts nearly 5 fun-filled hours. This street party welcomes in the Year of the Rat with all sorts of vendors and food. The parade also features some amazing day-time firework displays. Admission to the Lunar New Year Parade is free and open to the public. 2. The Chinatown Lunar New Year Firecracker Ceremony The Better Chinatown Society organizes the Lunar New Year Firecracker Ceremony. Enjoy hundreds of thousands of sparkling fireworks designed to ward off bad spirits for the new year. Afterward, there are a number of colorful dance performances. It’s a can’t-miss event. You can even book a Chinese dinner cruise on the Hudson River to see the fireworks. Circle Line Cruises offers a gourmet 12-course dinner. Admission to the Lunar New Year Firecracker Ceremony is free and open to the public. Tickets to the Lunar New Year Fireworks Cruise are separately ticketed. 3. The New York Philharmonic Lunar Concert The New York Philharmonic puts on an annual Lunar Concert to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Experience Beethoven’s grand Choral Fantasy by renowned artists, such as the Farmers’ Chorus of the Yunnan Province and 13-year-old pianist Serena Wang. It’s a gala event. Tickets to The New York Philharmonic Lunar Concert are available for purchase online. 4. The Temple Bazaar The Temple Bazaar celebrates the Chinese New Year with bright red lanterns floating through the streets. Enjoy Chinese music and martial arts demonstrations. Learn Chinese crafts like calligraphy and paper cutting. You can even munch on authentic Chinese food from Taiwan and Shandong. The Temple Bazaar celebrates the Chinese New Year with plenty of fun activities for everyone, including tourists. Admission to The Temple Bazaar is free and open to the public, some events and activities may be separately ticketed. 5. Savor the Dim Sum Gather a hungry crew to feast on egg rolls, dumplings and more at some great Chinese restaurants in NYC. Visit the Nom Wah Tea Parlor for some mooncakes. It’s the oldest dim sum parlor in NYC and dates back to 1920. At Tim Ho Wan, you can chow down on some exceptional pork and steamed rice rolls. Jade Asian is well known for its turnip cakes and seafood-stuffed hot peppers. Try the Katz’s pastrami egg roll at Red Farm. It’s a delight. Hakkasan New York celebrates the Chinese New Year featuring a mix of traditional Cantonese dishes and invites guests to celebrate by placing wish ribbons on a wishing tree. There’s even a lion dance performance. Call restaurants in advance for reservations--they're sure to be busy during the New Year! 6. The Madison Street to Madison Avenue Parade This action-packed festival is all day long. There’s shopping, dance performances, and family entertainment. There’s also traditional Chinese face-changing, colorful lion dancers, and calligraphy demos. It’s just one more way to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Admission to the Madison Street to Madison Avenue Parade is free and open to the public. 7. The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) One of the best ways to fully appreciate your trip to NYC for Chinese New Year is to take a visit to the Museum of Chinese in America where you can learn all about the Chinese culture and traditions you'll be celebrating with the Lunar New Year and learn about what life in NYC and beyond is like for its large Chinese population. The MOCA is a former machine shop inspired by a Chinese house with rooms extending from a central courtyard. It has exhibits that trace the development of Chinese communities along with mixed-media displays of Chinese restaurants and Laundries in New York. Tickets to the Museum of Chinese in America are available for purchase at the door or in advance online. 8. The New Kam Hing Coffee Shop Get your sugar and caffeine fix at the New Kam Hing Coffee Shop. This 30-year old coffee shop doesn’t look like much but serves up the best boat-shaped white-sugar cake, coffee, and green tea. It also has an angel-food-like interior that is light and airy. Nearby, you should make the time to shop for some great Asian cuisine at the Hong Kong Supermarket. It’s a Chinatown megastore that has everything for Asian food fanatics. Get fermented black beans, fresh noodles, dumpling wrappers and a whole host of other goodies. Everything’s super fresh, and the sushi stall offers tasty fresh rolls to-go. The New Kam Hing Coffee Shop is open to the public. 9. Concerts at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall Enjoy world-renowned symphonies featuring film and harp projections. There’s even a pre-concert reception where you can dine with the artists. Previous performers include Jiaxin Tian and conductor Gregory Singer. Music is at its best at the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Halls. Tickets are available for purchase online. Guided Lincoln Center Tour tickets and guided Carnegie Hall tickets are included with The New York Pass. From dazzling fireworks shows and colorful parades to great museums and concerts, there's no shortage of things to do in NYC for Chinese New Year. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, there's nowhere better in America to celebrate Chinese New Year than the Big Apple. Remember To Save on Attraction Admission If you're looking for things to do in NYC for Chinese New Year, spend some time in Chinatown checking out all of the festive events, and be sure to add some New York City sightseeing to your itinerary, too. Save on attraction admission with New York Pass which grants you free entry to over 90 attractions in New York so that you can enjoy more and save more during your trip. For more information on the New York Pass, click here.
Casey Makovich
Panoramic view of Central Park and the Hudson in New York
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Tourist Traps in New York to Watch Out for

Want to avoid the Big Apple taking a bite from you rather than, you know, the other way around? Our guide to the tourist traps to watch out for in New York is here to help! We’re talking cartoonish scams on Times Square, totally avoidable Empire State Building queues, and the perks of side-swerving Central Park. Read on for our whistle stop guide to New York's most notorious tourist traps, plus how to avoid them and what to do instead… New York Tourist Traps: The Statue of Liberty We know, we know, but hear us out! Of course we understand that you can’t go to New York without checking out the Green Goddess at close quarters. That would be crazy, right? Right. But there are good ways and bad ways of experiencing *the* emblem of American freedom. Case in point: it'll set you back a cool $20+ to disembark with the tourist hordes at Ellis Island, have a poke around the so-so Immigration Museum then spend the next half hour taking awkward selfies that, at such proximity to Lady Liberty, are always doomed to failure. Sure, you can climb the spiral staircase inside to get a view from the statue’s crown. But a) there’s an additional charge for that; b) there are 354 steps and c) you can’t actually see the Statue of Liberty from here because, well, you’re inside it. Our advice? Save your time and dime and avoid this classic NYC tourist trap. There are fine views of the statue to be had from all over Manhattan: try the Brooklyn Bridge or indeed any observation platform (of which there are many). Better yet, take the free – yes, free – Staten Island Ferry for a 25-minute round-trip across New York Harbor that affords some of the best views of the Statue of Liberty in town. It runs 24/7, year-round, so there are plenty of opportunities to travel in lull periods. Oh, and did we mention it’s free? New York Tourist Traps: Times Square Like innocent moths to a particularly gaudy flame, tourists are drawn to Times Square in their multitudes. You can spot them a mile off: slightly bamboozled expressions, phone cameras held gormlessly aloft as they clog the sidewalks, all eager to secure that essential Insta-perfect selfie. But tourist traps don’t come much more crass, crowded and over-commercialized than Times Square.  Astronomical prices at glossy-looking chain restaurants like the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Olive Garden should be matched by out-of-this-world food. Alas you’re paying a premium for location only, and the distinctly average food is likely to bring you down to earth with a bump. Even the legendary Magnolia Bakery dessert store just isn’t worth the looooong wait. Stores hawk overpriced souvenir tat that’s seemingly designed to self-destruct five seconds after purchase and Broadway tickets offered by street touts at prices that seem too good to be true are precisely that. After all, $50 is *a lot* to fork out for a souvenir fake Hamilton ticket. Wanna see Mickey Mouse drop character and morph into a pushy, big-eared street rat? Course you do! Times Square is overrun with third-rate Mickeys, Donalds, Elmos, and Marvel and DC superheroes, i.e. characters designed to appeal to kids. None of these are affiliated to the entertainment companies that spawned them and all of them will try to trick you into having your photo taken with them before aggressively demanding ‘tips’ for their troubles. Avoid, avoid, and furthermore, avoid! New York Tourist Traps: Empire State Building The image of King Kong clinging to his beloved Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) and batting away airplanes from atop of the Empire State Building is one of the most iconic in movie history. But does that mean you should visit this Art Deco monolith? No, dear reader, it does not. Sure, it’s an architectural masterpiece and yep, it’s bucket list material for sure. But popularity means queues as long as the tower is tall (1,453 feet). Ok maybe not quite that long, but you get the general idea. Prices are also sky high, and increase the higher up the tower you want to go. In short: it’s a classic New York tourist trap. But if astronomical prices, super-long queues, and being crammed into elevators like sardines is your thing, then go for it! Alternatively, johnny-come-lately observation platforms like Edge and Summit One Vanderbilt offer more modern, multi-sensory experiences as well as – perhaps critically – boasting views of the Empire State Building itself. Try the City Climb at Edge for a knee-knocking al fresco stroll across the roof of one of NYC’s tallest skyscrapers. Or enjoy rather more down-to-earth views from the Brooklyn Bridge, a New York must-see in its own right. New York Tourist Traps: Central Park Central Park is free to visit, and don’t the tourists (and scammers) just know it! It’s amazing how a tract of land that’s many times the size of Monaco, more vast than the Vatican City, and could fit upwards of 600 football fields can feel so incredibly… busy. Tourists flock to this Big Apple centerpiece for its indisputably fine collection of attractions. To wit: a cute miniature castle that doubles as a weather station, a tranquil memorial to John Lennon, the gorgeous neoclassical Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, and the extraordinary Metropolitan Museum of Art. And that’s just for starters. Pedicab drivers swarm the paths, charming unsuspecting tourists into taking rides that will likely end up costing you anywhere from $5-11 per minute! Frankly you might be quicker if you walk. You’ll certainly be richer. In summary: if crowds ain’t your bag, give Central Park a wide berth. In spite of its huge size, you’ll be hard-pushed to find a quiet spot here at any time of year. Instead, hit up the equally pleasant (and far less busy) Hudson River Park (great for cycling!) or Brooklyn’s pretty Prospect Park. The latter was designed by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted, the celebrated 19th-century architects who were also responsible for – yup, you guessed it – our old pal Central Park. Prospect is a little over half the size of its more famous cousin and provides a tranquil retreat from the madness of the city, counting sprawling areas of woodland, great meadows, a lake, a zoo and a carousel among its many charms. Save on New York’s most popular tourist attractions Save on admission to New York attractions with the New York Pass. Check out @NewYorkPass on Instagram for the latest top tips and attraction info.
Stuart Bak

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