Oh Central Park, how beautiful you are! Just three weeks ago, I was traipsing through the snow covered gardens of Central Park in New York. One of the city’s major attractions, for tourists and locals alike, the park hosts a myriad of activities. From gorgeous horse and carriage rides to the giant ice skating rink in winter, there is so much to do inside the 843 acres. But there is even more to Central Park than most people know. Here are five hidden gems to discover next time you find yourself in New York’s most famous green space.
Explore inside Belvedere Castle
The historic Belvedere Castle offers stunning, panoramic views of some of Central Park’s most popular landmarks, including the Delacorte Theatre and the Great Lawn. Inside the castle is the Henry Luce Nature Observatory where you will find an extensive collection of natural history artifacts. Make your way up and down the winding staircases to find all kinds of treats, from microscopes and telescopes to papier-mache bird displays. Grab a Discovery Kit and go searching for wildlife at home in the park. Best of all, this attraction is free!
Make your way to the Chess and Checkers House
If you fancy a game, head on over to the Chess and Checkers House in the middle of the park, around 64th street. Here you can battle with the locals in a game of chess, checkers, dominos or backgammon. With a more relaxed atmosphere than other more competitive houses, even beginners are welcome to play. Just note that most will play five-minute speed chess so brush up on your skills before you go! Pieces for the games can be rented out for around two dollars a set.
Listen to the chimes of the Delacorte Music Clock
Situated near the Children’s Zoo and Wildlife Centre, this whimsical clock plays music every half an hour throughout the day. A great attraction for the kids, come down and sing all the classics, from Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to Row, Row, Row Your Boat. Adorned with animal sculptures, the grand clock songs change according to the time of year, with special Christmas carols during the holiday season. At the top of every hour, two monkeys will strike a bell.
Admire the blooms in the Conservatory Gardens
A visit to Central Park in spring or summer means you have the privilege of seeing the Conservatory Gardens in full bloom. This six acre oasis is a formal European-style garden divided into three parts, Italian, French and English. You will find a range of manicured trees, plants and flowers all carefully positioned throughout the gardens. Keep an eye out for the magnificent 12 foot high jet fountain in the Italian garden. Even the entrance to the gardens is grand with the striking Vanderbilt Gate, made in Paris in 1894.
Rent a boat from the Loeb Boathouse
The iconic Loeb Boathouse sits adjacent to the lake and offers patrons enviable views from its popular restaurant. Stay for a bite or simply hire a row boat for a relaxing afternoon activity. You even have the option of a romantic gondola ride with a special host doing the hard work for you. The boathouse has starred in numerous famous films and television series including When Harry Met Sally or the more recent, 27 Dresses.