• Caitlin McAninch

Must Sees of Central Park

Updated: Feb 16, 2019



The first time I went to New York City, I remember riding a city bus and decided, “hey, I’m going to go to the zoo in Central Park.” So I headed into Central Park, and about three hours later I realized I was beyond lost and really had no idea where the zoo was. I ended up finding it, but truly, I was more shocked at how insanely big Central Park is and that I didn’t even realize it.

Central Park is basically in the center of Manhattan. At 2.5 miles long and a ½ mile wide, it covers 843 acres. So don’t judge me for getting lost, because it is HUGE. On my most recent trip I biked the Central Park Loop, which is about six miles – I’m healthy, huh?

Scattered throughout this park is a handful of “must sees” and in this post I’m covering those! So continue on to see photos and descriptions of those places that you’ve seen in the movies. Because did I mention? Central Park is one of the most filmed locations in the world!

Okay, let’s dive into these awesome spots in Central Park:

Bethesda Terrace

My first like, real memorable moment of Bethesda Terrace is from Gossip Girl, season one. Blair finds Serena sitting and reading on a bench in this beautiful covered pavilion in the rain. It’s empty except for the two of them, just beautiful. Yeahhhhhh no. It’s not even close to empty like that and there are no benches. Instead, it’s a packed spot, but it’s seriously beautiful. Maybe if I went at 6 am, I cold see it like that.

Anyways. There’s the Bethesda Fountain, and behind/in front (depending on which way you’re facing) is the terrace with beautiful pillars, arches, and grand stairs going along both sides. The terrace includes beautiful tile work, and it really is just a stunning spot in the park. Often you can find musicians because of the acoustic set up of the area.

It’s definitely a beautiful spot for photos. Here are some from my last visit:







Affiliate Drop: the dress in these photos was purchased on Amazon! Although I felt silly rocking this dress when I wandered around, it was the perfect dress for shooting. Super instagrammable, am I right?!

Boat Pond

Anyone remember Stuart Little? The Boat Pond – which is actually called Conservatory Water – is a cement pond where you can find families and children operating remote controlled sailboats.

When we were riding our bikes, we stopped here to look around and admire the boats. And of course, take a few photos.




Oh side note – because Alice in Wonderland is my all time fave Disney movie, I wanted to find the Alice in Wonderland statue. It’s actually right next to the Boat Pond, but I didn’t go over to it because there were tons of children climbing all over it. You can actually see the crowd in the photo directly above this paragraph. See that crowd of people above the pond?? That's the statue. But, if you really want to see it, it’s over to the side of the pond.

Central Park Zoo

So I visited the zoo the first time I was in New York City, and honestly I didn’t love it. I didn’t think the enclosures were that great, and I definitely didn’t feel like it was as special as it appeared in the movie Madagascar.

Current prices are $20 for adults and $15 for children. So if you’re visiting with little ones, it’s not that bad of a price to go see some animals. The actual architecture of the zoo buildings reminds me of the rest of the park, so that part is nice. But, if you’re only in NYC for a few days, I recommend skipping it. Below is basically the only photo I could find. It's of the penguin exhibit, which honestly was so depressing because the glass was so dirty!


The Mall

The Mall is not for shopping, but for walking. It’s the long pathway surrounded by large, old elm trees lining the path. It’s been seen in a million films, and it’s definitely gorgeous. For the most part, it is filled with street performers and vendors lined up to try to make some money, but it’s not that bad if you just walk through it and don’t stop.

For me, I love any tree-lined road. I mean, I love trees sooo. This part of the park is super easy to get to if you enter on the 65thstreet entrance right off Fifth Avenue. AND! It ends right at the Bethesda Terrace staircase, so it’s basically perfect.

Here’s the photos we grabbed on the last trip:



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The Lake

The Lake is the biggest lake in Central Park right in the middle. It’s common to see visitors on rowboats in the water, but be wary on a busy day because it is PACKED. Like, so many boats.

It’s also sort of icky, when I visited this summer it was covered in a green film… yum.


Along its waters is the Boathouse Restaurant, which I didn’t go into, but it looked really nice and pretty.

That beautiful bridge that you often see in movies, the cast-iron Bow Bridge, goes over The Lake. It’s sort of the perfect spot for a photo if you have a good lens. The water, the bridge, and the city skyline… just gorgeous.



The Pond and Gapstow Bridge

The Pond – seriously who came up with these overly creative names?! – is the southernmost body of water in Central Park. I’m adding it to my list because it, too, has a super photogenic bridge you shouldn’t miss.

Gapstow Bridge arches over The Pond and has some of the best city views in Central park. Gorrrgeous! I read on Google that it’s one of the most popular spots in the park for marriage proposals.


Interested in seeing what else I think you should do in New York City? Check out all my NYC blog posts.


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