A Stroll through Nature: Discovering the Wonders of Central Park
You’ve probably seen its lush greenery, natural landscaping, and beautiful terraces and fountains on the big screen. Central Park, one of New York City’s most iconic features — if not the most iconic — is the world’s most-filmed destination, boasting over 352 movie credits, and countless TV show appearances.
But Central Park’s wonders cannot be encapsulated by a few scenes in a movie. From the wild Ramble to peaceful Sheep Meadow, Belvedere Castle to the mononymous Lake, this 843-acre urban park has much to offer. Simply put, you have to see Central Park to believe it.
Since it was completed in 1876, the spectacular landscapes of Central Park have been a refuge for locals and tourists alike. Buffeted on two sides by the Upper East and Upper West sides, Central Park has become a crucial aspect of New York City life. Just a ten-minute walk and a three-minute drive from The Lucerne Hotel, this oasis is well within your reach if you stay with us.
Continue reading to learn more about the wonders of Central Park.
Central Park might be at the heart of bustling New York City, but The Ramble — the park’s upstate-inspired wilderness landscape — will make you feel like you’ve taken the Amtrak straight to the Catskills. Measuring in at around 36 acres, the Ramble was one of the park’s original features, dating back to the 19th-century designs by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Olmsted.
The Ramble consists of twisting paths, lush overhead foliage, rocky outcroppings and rustic bridges; it is well-known for its birdwatching opportunities, as for the sense of peace it provides visitors. Located right by the Lake, the Ramble is the perfect Central Park getaway.
If you wander around the southwestern quadrant of Central Park you are sure to stumble upon Sheep Meadow, another classic Central Park wonder. Bucolic, sprawling, and oh-so-green, Sheep Meadow is a beloved spot. People picnic, sunbathe, play frisbee, relax, and just spend time together here; it is one of the main public gathering places in the park. In its early years, it was even known as “the Commons.”
Sheep Meadow is known for its juxtaposition of lush nature and the cityscape that rises nearby; it is just as much of a retreat as the Ramble is. Its name comes from the flock of sheep that used to reside in the meadow — whose purpose was to ‘mow’ the grass. Though the sheep no longer live here, it’s still easy to imagine the area as a pastoral idyll.
Located at the heart of Central Park, the Lake is also one of its most prominent features. Its 20 acres cover the area between the Ramble and Bethesda Terrace; it is known for its boating and spectacular views. Boating on the Lake is a tradition that dates back to the 1860s. Romantic, relaxing, and unique, it’s something everyone should try at least once in their lives. Also, if you’re lucky, you may spot some of the turtles that live by the Lake going for a dip or sunbathing on a rock.
Literally meaning ‘beautiful view’ in Italian, Belvedere Castle is a dramatic focal point within Central Park. Designed in 1867, the folly was built atop the 130-foot-tall Vista Rock, as a place to admire the stunning landscapes of Central Park from above. Since 1919, it’s also been home to Central Park’s weather station. It is open to the public, who can look out from its terraces and towers; the castle also houses a visitor center and gift shop.
This Gothic and Romanesque structure is a testament to the human-centered goals of Central Park’s designers; a wonder within a wonder.
The Conservatory Garden
A set of public gardens famed within Central Park and beyond, the Conservatory Garden is a spectacular display of florals and landscaping. Consisting of French, Italian, and English-style gardens, the area is awe-inspiring year-round, known for its tulips, chrysanthemums, crabapple trees, and much more. It is a curated collection of flora that will transport you to centuries past.
Last but certainly not least, Bethesda Terrace is one of Central Park’s most well-known features, though that does not disqualify it from being an absolute must-see. The terrace itself is made up of two levels, connected by stairways and featuring a beautiful, tiled arcade. The lower level is known for its fountain — aptly named Bethesda Fountain, a pool with a 1968 statue called Angel of the Waters. Bethesda Terrace serves as the pulse of the park, a great location for people-watching; you can also often find musicians busking here.
No matter which of Central Park’s many, varied offerings appeals to you, it will enchant you. From architectural wonders like Bethesda Terrace and Belvedere Castle to more natural features like the Ramble, there is something here for everyone.
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