New York City North America

10 Hidden Gems In Central Park

By on December 2, 2014

So, after writing my NYC in 5 Days post, I decided I would share with you some of the hidden treasures (or gems as I like to call them) that I discovered in New York’s Central Park.

Central Park is beautiful, relaxing and scenic with many key attractions and sights waiting to be explored! The map of New York City that was given to me by my Airbnb hosts was perfect to plan my multiple visits to the park! It listed all the key sights and attractions in Central Park, so I planned to see as much of the park as possible!

If you don’t cover everything you wanted to see in Central Park, then don’t worry! You can save those sights and attractions for your next visit!

1. Imagine Mosaic

“Imagine all the people, living for today…” – Imagine, John LennonIMG_0487

The imagine mosaic which is located in Strawberry Fields of Central Park honours the life of Beatle John Lennon who was a brilliant singer, songwriter, musician and peace activist. The location of the mosaic in Strawberry Fields was John Lennon and his wife’s favourite area of Central Park, as it was adjacent to where they lived in Dakota Apartments. The location was also named after the song “Strawberry Fields Forever” and the mosaic was built to inspire hope for a world without strife, war or conflict.

When I was visiting Strawberry Fields, there was a busker/street musician who was playing “Imagine” on his guitar, which positively contributed to an authentic Beatle’s experience!

2. Alice in Wonderland sculpture

“Curiouser and curiouser…” – Alice in Wonderland, Lewis CarrollIMG_0984

The Alice in Wonderland sculpture was built in 1959 by José de Creeft with the goal of engaging and inspiring children to visit and experience the wonder of Lewis Carroll’s classic story. The sculpture is just over three metres (11 feet) tall and made of bronze.

Unfortunately, I did not capture the picture above; I was fooled and disillusioned because when I visited the Alice in Wonderland sculpture, this is the picture that I took:IMG_0412Surprisingly, the creation of this sculpture was intended to invite children and encourage them to touch, climb and crawl all over Alice and her friends in order to have an authentic Alice in Wonderland experience. I think this is a brilliant way for children to embrace Central Park.

3. Hans Christian Andersen statue

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The Hans Christian Andersen statue was sculpted by Georg John Lober and unveiled in 1956 to commemorate the Danish poet’s 150th birthday. Hans Christian Andersen is a well known novelist and children’s author, and the bronze statue depicts Hans Christian Andersen sitting on a bench (made out of granite) reading from his book The Ugly Duckling.

This statue is located right near the Alice in Wonderland statue, also inviting and encouraging children to touch, climb and crawl on. In the Summer months, afternoon storytelling of Andersen’s famous tales are read to young children at the foot of the statue. Some of Andersen’s other famous tales include, The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina and The Little Match Girl.

4. Bow Bridge

IMG_0328Situated right in the middle of Central Park by Central Park lake is Bow Bridge, one of Central Park’s most iconic spots, attracting many overseas visitors each year. Designed with Classical Greek Refinement, the cast iron bridge was constructed in the 19th century by Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould.IMG_0364

In the Springtime, Bow bridge is covered on one side by beautiful pink cherry blossoms from Cherry Hill, and in the Summertime, travellers love to take a scenic rowboat ride underneath the bridge.IMG_0366

For photographers, Bow bridge is the perfect location to capture stunning pictures of 5th Avenue and Central Park West. I highly recommend that your first stop in Central Park is a visit to Bow bridge! Here are two of my favourite pictures taken at Bow Bridge:

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Another reason the Bow bridge is iconic is because it has been featured in many blockbuster movies such as:

1. Manhattan (1979) featuring Woody Allen and Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep.

2. The Way We Were (1973) starring Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand.

3. Keeping the Faith (2000) with Ben Stiller, Jenna Elfman and Edward Norton.

4. Made of Honor (2008) featuring Patrick Dempsey and Michele Monaghan, and

5. Night at the Museum (2006) with Ben Stiller, Robin Williams and Owen Wilson.

5. Bethesda Fountain IMG_0377

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The Bethesda fountain is one of the largest fountains in New York and one of the most well known fountains in the world. As the focus point within the Bethesda Terrace, it is the only sculpture to have been commissioned as part of Central Park’s original design. The nearly two and a half metre tall (8ft) angel on the top of the Bethesda fountain is known as the Angel of the Waters and represents health, purity, temperance and peace. The Bethesda fountain has also been featured in films such as When Harry Met Sally (1989) and Enchanted (2007), where in this movie the Bethesda fountain was featured as the final destination of a major singing extravaganza.

6. Conservatory Water

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Conservatory water was inspired by the model boat ponds of late 19th century Paris. Designed and built by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Conservatory Water is the perfect place for both children and adults to enjoy a spot of boating. Boating season is from April-October with model boats available for rent from the Kerbs Memorial Boathouse. You might remember watching the motion picture Stuart Little (1999), where Conservatory Water boating was featured. During the winter months, Conservatory Water is open for ice skating. Border by the Alice in Wonderland and the Hans Christian Andersen statue, Conservatory Water is the perfect place for families to visit.

One of the highlights of my visit to Conservatory Water was this beautiful dancer:

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 7. The Loeb Boathouse

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It was Calvert Vaux who built the first boathouse in Central Park; made of wood the structure stood from 1873 until it was later torn down in 1954. Maintaining the original purpose of the boathouse, a man by the name of Carl M. Loeb built a new boathouse in 1954 made of red brick and limestone which is now known as the Loeb Boathouse.

The Loeb Boathouse is the perfect place for fine dining with spectacular views of Central Park, and in addition a beautiful outdoor setting for private functions such as conferences and weddings that are regularly held there. At the boathouse you can also hire boats and enjoy a relaxing gondola ride. The Loeb Boathouse was also featured in the movie 27 Dresses (2008) starring Katherine Heigl and James Marsden.

8. The Plaza Hotel

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From Central Park, I captured some beautiful photos of the Plaza Hotel. Located on 5th avenue, the Plaza Hotel was established in 1907 and is one of the most famous buildings in New York. This twenty story luxury hotel has hosted some of the most famous people in the world such as Liza Minnelli and the Beatles. The Plaza Hotel has also appeared in nearly thirty films that were captured in New York, including most famously Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992).

9. The Mall

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The Central Park mall is the walkway leading to the Bethesda Terrace, running through the middle of Central Park. The walkway was originally designed to accommodate the width of carriages passing through, dropping off wealthy men and women to embrace and enjoy the natural surroundings. Wealthy men and women would walk along this walkway and upon reaching the Bethesda fountain, their carriages would be waiting to bring them to their next destination.

10. Sheep Meadow

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Sheep Meadow in Central Park is a fifteen acre field originally designed for military drills. The history of Sheep Meadow details demonstrations, concerts and political movements that have taken place. These days, Sheep Meadow is open from May-mid October during the Summer months for sunbathing, kite flying, picnicking and relaxing, ideal for families looking for a relaxing and fun day out.

Youtube Channel

I have made a short video of my photography in Central Park, so you can click on the video below or go directly to my YouTube page! Check it out!

Share your thoughts

What are some of your favourite spots in Central Park?

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17 Comments
  1. kristasb

    May 13, 2015

    I can’t wait to visit Central Park! Most of the attractions you have talked about are the ones I want to see when I visit next week! Thank you Bec 🙂

    • Bec

      May 13, 2015

      You are so welcome! The host that I was staying with actually gave me this AMAZING map of NYC, and on Central Park it had some of the main attractions on it, which really helped with planning where in the park to walk and explore! I’m glad you found this helpful for your trip to NYC, can’t wait to see your photos on Instagram from your visit! Look forward to it!

      • kristasb

        May 14, 2015

        Sweet! I’m lucky enough to have met someone last year who lives in New York so I’ll have my own host hehe 🙂
        The attractions look amazing! and I can’t believe how big Central Park is.. from what I’ve heard! I just can’t wait to experience it and the rest of my trip. Question for you, how do you post photos and blogs while you’re abroad? do you just use wifi when you get the chance? I don’t think i’ll be able to blog while I’m over there, as I won’t have my laptop…

        • Bec

          May 14, 2015

          Lucky you! I ended up staying in New Jersey during my NYC visit, and it was great to have some peace and quiet away from the busy hustle and bustle of the city! I went to Central Park twice and walked all over, and I STILL didn’t get to see it all! I guess the park just leaves me wanting more when I make a return trip back to New York. I have seen photos and heard from others that Central Park is just as beautiful during Winter so I would be keen to do that!

          Well, I didn’t start my blog until November last year, and I arrived home from my 5 months overseas in August, so I didn’t really need a schedule, I would just upload photos when I got some wifi! I am heading overseas in September/October with a friend so I will be learning just like you how to manage the blog with photos and posts while I’m away! I think I might have some posts in drafts ready to go (if I choose to post something), I don’t think I’ll have time to write posts while I’m away, because I’ll be moving from destination to destination within days. With regard to uploading photos, my plan is just to do it when I have wifi, and try to do Facebook updates when I find wifi when I’m out, but at the same time actually enjoy my holiday! I am going to research it a bit before I go about scheduling things etc, but I think I will just try and find a balance between enjoying the travelling and posting about it 🙂 With Instagram, my plan is probably to upload one photo per day or every 2 days to keep followers in the loop 🙂 I hope this information helps! Feel free to email me on bec@theworldasbecseesit.com if you have any other questions! Happy to answer them, and as you can see, I answer with heaps of detail haha.

  2. Michelle

    May 30, 2015

    When I lived in NYC, one of my favorite things to do was walk home through Central Park. I would take a different path every so often, and always managed to find something new and exciting. My favorite spots were the Harlem Meer and the Gardens that are on the Upper East Side. Three beautiful gardens in different styles (Italian, French, and English) and occasionally you can find free walking tours through them, which is super fun.

    • Bec

      May 31, 2015

      You are so lucky you got to live in such a beautiful city! Sounds like a wonderful way to end the working day! I will be sure to check those spots on when I make a return trip, and a walking tour sounds great! There is so much I didn’t get to see as the park is so huge! 🙂

      • Michelle

        May 31, 2015

        Haha, NYC was not for me, I left in a fit of anxiety needed literally anything other than that city. I need more green spaces and far less people. Nonetheless, I can appreciate the beautiful things now. Central Park, and next time you are there, a walk along the Hudson River is nice too. I used to take the subway to the top of manhattan and walk back along the river to my apartment. Absolutely beautiful, and super quiet the further uptown you go!

  3. Greg

    June 1, 2015

    Was there last year, kicking myself now for not spending more time at central park. Thanks for a great article.

    • Bec

      June 1, 2015

      Thanks so much! Looks like a return trip is in order for you! It is well worth it! I can’t wait to get back to NYC and explore more of Central Park again! I wouldn’t mind going there in the Winter time, would be a completely different experience!

  4. Dorothy DeMaria

    February 17, 2016

    I grew up in Brooklyn and spent lots of time in Central Park. My favorite memory is riding in the MS Bike-a-thon with my sister, 7 times around the park. Central Park is always beautiful but it’s spectacular in the fall.

    • Bec

      February 18, 2016

      That’s so cool Dorothy! Central Park is so huge I didn’t have enough time to see all of it, but I hope to return soon and explore more! I have seen so many photos of Central Park in the Fall (which we call Autumn here in Australia) and the colours look incredible! 🙂

  5. shaxebeer

    October 1, 2016

    There’s also the Shakespeare Garden and the Delacorte Theatre, home to the iconic New York Shakespeare Festival for Joseph Papp’s, The Public Theater. There are sculptures of Romeo & Juliet and Prospero & MIranda there as well.

    • Bec

      October 3, 2016

      Wow these are great! I must add these to my list of things to see in Central Park! The park is so big, I didn’t have enough time to see them all! So many wonderful things to see, thank you so much! 🙂

  6. Karen

    October 26, 2016

    I saw everything on your list except the Hans Christian Andersen statue. Not sure how I missed it since I found Alice in Wonderland statue. I took photos of the Plaza Hotel but had no idea it was such an icon until reading your post. I went at beginning of October. Rained every day but less people around.

    • Bec

      October 28, 2016

      Hi Karen, thanks for reading my post and I am glad you found a lot of the hidden gems throughout the park! Next time I go back to New York I must add more to this list, as I only saw probably around half of the park itself because it’s so huge! Central park is so nice during Summer, but I can imagine without the rain, the Autumn (fall) colours would look amazing around that time of year too!

  7. Barbara

    November 26, 2016

    I found this so helpful as I’m planning to go to NY this winter. However, just one comment: the quote you have listed for the Hans Christian Andersen statue is actually from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, not the Ugly Duckling!

    • Bec

      November 26, 2016

      So glad you found this itinerary helpful! I am headed to NYC this Winter as well! oh no! I didn’t realise it wasn’t the Ugly Duckling, thanks for pointing that out! 😛

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Bec
Sydney, AU

Hi there! I'm Bec, creator of the travel blog The World As Bec Sees It. I'm a 26-year old Primary Teacher from Sydney, Australia with a severe case of wanderlust who believes it's possible to work in the job of your dreams and still find time to travel the world!

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