Central Park is enormous and so much bigger than I could have imagined. My sister had advised us to allow two full days to ensure we saw most of what the Park has to offer.
The only trouble is that with so many other things to see, we only had time for one day in the Park. We took the subway to Lexington and 63rd Street and then walked along 63rd, crossing over Park Avenue, Madison Avenue and then along Fifth Avenue until we found the entrance to the Park.
It was a busy Saturday and there were a lot of people in the Park; tourists wandering around and locals picnicking, jogging, strolling, exercising, busking, dating and relaxing. There was a lot going on.
We quickly noticed the horse and carriage rides and decided that would be a good way to begin seeing some of the Park. The place you start your horse and carriage ride is close to the Park’s entrance on Fifth Avenue where you can see the Plaza Hotel across the road.
Despite lots of people being in the Park we didn’t have to wait for a ride. The carriage rides go for 20-minutes and take a set route although you can hire them for longer and then experience more of the Park. As a 20-minute ride costs $50.00 we decided that would have to be long enough. The cost seemed very expensive but I had to consider how many opportunities I would have to do this in my lifetime.
We were there on a very warm summer’s day and while there were many people enjoying seeing the Park while being pulled along by a horse, our driver told us the busiest time for him is when the Park is covered in fresh snow with tiny snowflakes still falling.
Our ride took us out of the Park and along Fifth Avenue where we went past the Plaza Hotel. I’d seen the Plaza in so many movies that I recognised it instantly. I saw it in Arthur, then Home Alone II, then Scent of a Woman. Later in the day I did try to have a wander through the lobby but it is strictly for ‘Residents Only’.
While on our ride we noticed you can hire bikes so that was the next thing Arabella wanted to do. We said goodbye to our horse and walked up Fifth Avenue trying to find out where to hire bikes (because you can’t hire them inside the Park). If you can’t find where to hire them, don’t worry – the bike companies employ people to find you!
As we were wandering around looking helpless, a young man approached asking us if we wanted to hire bikes. He was from Sayat Bike Rental which is about a block from the Park and he took us down to his premises where we had to wait in line for a bike. We hired the bikes for three hours for $25/bike. The bikes have baskets for all your belongings, a lock, helmets (but I didn’t see anyone wearing one), and they give you a map of the Park.
We went back to the Park and with no clue where we were going, started riding around. I’d highly recommend hiring a bike to see the Park because it’s just too big to be able to see on foot. We saw the memorial to John Lennon, Strawberry Fields, but I couldn’t photograph it because there were so many people crowding around it.
We went to the 20-acre lake around mid-park where a lot of people were hiring little boats to enjoy on the water. This lake is the second largest man-made lake in the Park.
We saw the Lasker Pool that in winter becomes an ice skating rink. The pool is open seven days but for some reason it is closed between 3-4pm. We arrived at 3pm and saw everyone leaving. Entry to the pool is free! To get an idea of just how big the pool is, in the narrowest part it’s 50mtrs across and the black lines are where swimmers can do 50mtr lengths.
We kept moving along and found some teams playing softball. We parked our bikes and sat and watched. Arabella said she’d never played a game of softball. I was shocked as I grew up with it being the only summer sport my school offered so year after year I played whether I wanted to or not.
All through the park you can purchase drinks and refreshments. There are plenty of hot dog stands and stands selling icy cold drinks and ice creams. We also came across a lone chap perched on the side of the road with an esky selling bottles of chilled water for a dollar – bargain!
As we cycled along the roads that weave through the Park, I couldn’t help thinking about the restroom situation. As I’ve already shared, New York is devoid of public restrooms and Central Park is no exception. I was told there are some but I had two maps of the Park and neither showed restrooms. We cycled around for a few hours and didn’t see any either. A local told me that your best option is to go across to the Plaza Hotel and enter the Todd English Food Court where there are some restrooms, then head back across the road to the Park. I’m not sure what the Plaza thinks about this.
Central Park stretches across Manhattan in a space of just under 850 acres. I doubt there is another city in the world with such a large and well-kept public park. It’s incredibly clean, very well maintained, extremely safe and worthy of more than just a day’s visit in your sightseeing schedule. The only thing lacking (or hidden) are the restrooms. (Here’s a list of where they are but good luck finding them).
Central Park: New York NY