Other than Broadway, my most favorite place to be in New York is Central Park. I particularly love it in the fall and late winter. The air is crisp and the trees give way to the skyscrapers that surround this little oasis. As noted, my favorite thing to do is grab a Pret sandwich, a book (usually my kindle because it is lighter and smaller), and a slice of Magnolia chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream. I sit on a bench, on the grass, under a tree, or by a fountain and just relax. I do this year round, I just have more layers in the winter. My plans are only thwarted by wet weather, but I have been pretty lucky on that front.
The park is massive! I have not ventured north of 75th of late, there is no other reason than simply I go to NYC to see a show and I stay on the Upper West Side. The three most famous museums border the park on either side (all will be featured in future posts). A lot of the ‘must see’ Central Park activities are on the West Side near the American Museum of Natural History, including the Dakota Building where John Lennon was murdered. Near the location (access on W. 72nd Street) you will find Strawberry Fields and a mosaic of ‘Imagine.’ It is a very popular destination. When you arrive there is a line to stand on, lay flowers, and/or take photos. Everyone is very polite. Just wait your turn and don’t rush. As someone whose dad is a massive Beatles fan, some people just want a moment to pay their respects to an icon.
If you continue around, you will run into a fountain that may look familiar and loads of people around. It is the ‘same’ one from the opening credits of Friends. I am very sorry to burst your bubble, but it is not the real fountain. The entire opening sequence was done at the Warner Bros. lot in Los Angeles. But you know what, who cares! It is one of my all time favorite shows and if you are excited, then be excited!
I highly recommend wandering around. There are lots of ponds, rock formations, grassy fields, kids playing sports, or relaxing on a park bench. There are fountains, foot bridges, and sculptures everywhere. As I said, I hang out in the park year round and a couple weeks ago I saw something I have been wanting to see…birds on frozen pond! I had seen videos from Katie Couric about these ducks or geese who walk on the ice. They sort of glide across. I sat, ate my cake, and chuckled at these birds just ‘chilling’ out.
There is lots of street food in and around the park. Feel confident eating whatever you want. Everything is well regulated. Tip for you, if you just want a pretzel, get it from a pretzel only place. I bought one once from an multiple option place and it tasted like a kielbasa…not great! It is a good way to eat cheaply and have a quintessential New York experience.
I hope as you visit New York City, you do take the time to enjoy the park. I cannot recommend it enough. It is really something to be in a massive green space in the center of the largest city in the United States. It is also very safe. I am not saying I would go by myself at night, but I am usually at a show anyway. So enjoy a slice and read a book, it is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.