Central Park Photo Spots: A Complete Photographers Guide
Is there any place more iconic than Central Park? With all the movies filmed here, the passing seasons, and just being a park oasis for so many New Yorkers, there is truly no place like it. Photographing the park is one of my favorite past times and I’m here to share all the best Central Park Photo Spots so you too can see the beauty in this place.
Things to Know Before Visiting Central Park
- Central Park is HUGE! It occupies 840 acres. If you want to see the entirety of the park plan for a few hours
- Wear comfortable walking shoes
- Rent a bike if you want to cover more ground in a shorter amount of time
- Every day, from 6 am -9 am is off-leash hours for dogs
- Pack a picnic for the park, it has some of the greatest places to post up for a picnic afternoon
Best Things to Do in Central Park
Hands down my favorite part of Central Park is the Bethesda fountain. Towering tall at 26 feet high this beauty is one of the tallest fountains in New York. The bronzed sculpture sitting atop is called “Angel of the Waters”. It was placed to commemorate the opening of the Croton Aqueduct, which supplied New York City with fresh water. Finally, the fountain is perfect to post up and people watch or watch the boats float by on the lake.
Location: mid-park at 72nd street entrance
Bethesda Terrace is a two-level plaza overlooking the lake with the most beautiful architecture. Two gorgeous staircases take you down to the terrace which houses the Bethesda Fountain. Don’t miss the interior of the terrace! It’s ornamented with stunning tilework (16,000 tiles on the ceiling alone). And almost always has a live musician playing music adding to the ambiance. Above all, it’s a magical place in NYC that needs to be experienced by everyone, bar none.
A tree-lined promenade that has been the setting for many magnificent movies. “When Harry Met Sally”, “Maid in Manhattan”, “Serendipity”, the list goes on and on. The Mall runs from the 66th street entrance to Bethesda Terrace. It’s the perfect spot for a stroll, to people watch from one of the many dedicated benches, or to admire the beautiful fall foliage. Finally, it’s truly otherworldy during the fall.
Location: 66th street entrance to 72nd street entrance
The Bow Bridge
Bow Bridge is an ornate bridge overlooking the fifth avenue skyline. Completed in 1862 and made of cast iron, it’s perfect for the iconic Central Park shot. Furthermore, because of its popularity, it’s best to photograph early in the morning with fewer people around.
Location: The Ramble
The Lake Viewing Area
A stunning 20-acre picturesque lake in the middle of the city. This my friends is why New York City is so magical. The lake viewing area is vast but my favorite location has to be the San Remos Tower view. It’s located north of the Bow Bridge and what makes it so beautiful is the juxtaposition of nature and the city.
The Loeb boathouse is a hidden gem in the park. It was designed to coexist with the beautiful natural surroundings of the park. You can enjoy a romantic meal at their restaurant overlooking the lake. They even serve brunch on the weekends (best to make a reservation). Finally, a Central Park bucket list item is to rent one of the rowboats. They are available in the spring, summer, and fall and cost $20 per hour (with a $20 deposit cash only). It’s such a unique thing to do when visiting Central Park.
Location: Loeb Boathouse, 5 minutes from Bethesda Terrace
Another beautiful spot in the park is the Gapstow Bridge which overlooks Wollman Rink. This stone bridge blends in with its natural surroundings but has a stunning city view to the south. Talk about a juxtaposition! The designers of Central Park were very smart with their plans in using bridges and walkways for one transportation or another. So most of the bridges are pedestrian friendly.
photo credit: Shaunie Begley
This iconic ice skating rink opened in 1949 and has been in New Yorkers’ holiday hearts since then. Ice skating in fall and winter is one of the best things to do in Central Park. If you recall, the end scene of Serendipity was filmed here. Finally, in past years they have had disco parties, viewing parties, and even music festivals held during the summer. So it’s popular spot year-round.
Location: W. 59th Street and 6th Avenue
Another hidden gem in the park, perfect for Central Park photography, is the Oak Bridge. This spot is particularly beautiful in the fall. Designed as one of the major entrances of The Ramble. The original bridge was made entirely of white oak, hence the name. However, it was not sustainable so the bridge you see today is made of more durable materials. Finally, a great perspective to shoot this bridge is from a bit further south so you can get the entire bridge in a frame surrounded by foliage.
Location: West side at 77th
Did you know that there is a castle in Central Park? Well, there is and it’s the Belvedere Castle. Belvedere means beautiful view in Italian and that’s how it received its name. Set overlooking Turtle Pond and the Great Lawn, it’s completely free to enter and is open from Wednesday to Sunday 10 am – 5 pm.
Located: Mid Park 79th Street
The Rock Lookout
There are tons of rocks in the park you can climb on with city views. This one is located near Gapstow bridge and it looks like you’re the only person in the park. Finally, it’s one of the most instagrammable places for park photography.
Location: Corner of 59th & 5th entrance
Well, there you have it. Thank you for reading my “Top Photo Spots in Central Park” guide. Enjoy the city that never sleeps. Finally, don’t miss out on reading my “36 Must-See Places in NYC” guide.
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