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Experience Fall Colors in Central Park, New York City

The fall colors in Central Park are a sight to be seen! The air is crisp, and the leaves change into vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. The local wildlife scurries to gather food for the winter, while bundled-up humans wander the trails, relax in horse-drawn carriages, or cruise on the lakes in non-motorized boats. Central Park is beautiful any time of the year, but it’s simply magical in the fall.

New York City moves at a neck-breaking pace, but locals and tourists alike flock to Central Park for its nature and tranquility. New York with its museums, historical monuments, restaurants, and Broadway can be overwhelming. Schedule some time during your visit to see the fall colors of Central Park. It’s the perfect remedy and oasis for a New York getaway.

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How to Get to New York City

Three airports connect the rest of the world to New York City.

  • (JFK) John F. Kennedy International Airport
  • (LGA) LaGuardia Airport
  • (EWR) Newark Liberty International Airport

From any of these airports, you can access Manhattan by taxi, Uber, bus, or subway train. For the best hotel deals, check out Booking.com Manhattan.

How Big Is Central Park

Central Park is located in the middle of Manhattan between West 59th Street and West 110th Street, and between 5th Avenue and Central Park West. It’s 2.5 miles (4 km) long and half a mile (0.8 km) wide and encompasses 843 acres (341 hectares).

605 football fields could fit within Central Park (mind-blown!).

How to Get to Central Park

Getting to Central Park is easy, but getting to a specific place within Central Park takes a bit of research. There are only four streets that go through Central Park. If you want to see specific things in Central Park with fall foliage like the boathouse or Central Park Zoo, you need to be more specific with your taxi or Uber driver. You wouldn’t want to walk six miles to get to that Alice in Wonderland Statue, would you?

So here are a few highlighted areas for fall colors in Central Park:

Wedding photos at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, New York City

Bethesda Fountain and Bethesda Terrace

The Bethesda Fountain located at Bethesda Terrace is a prominent feature in Central Park. The neoclassical bronze sculpture known as the “Angel of the Waters” was designed by Emma Stebbins in 1873. She was the first woman ever to receive a commission for a major work of art in New York. The fountain and terrace overlook the southern shore of the Central Park Lake, offering a tranquil and picturesque setting for visitors. It’s a popular place for engagements, wedding photos, and movie locations such as Enchanted, Elf, Home Alone 2, and John Wick. Bundle up in a horse-drawn carriage ride from Bethesda Terrace and enjoy a leisure ride while marveling at the fall colors of Central Park.

Bethesda Terrace is located in the middle of Central Park around the intersection of East 72nd Street and 5th Avenue or West 72nd Street and Central Park West.

Central Park Lake

Looking at a map of Central Park, you see several bodies of water, but only one is named Central Park Lake. The Central Lake Boathouse, formerly, and still known as the Loeb Boathouse, is an ideal place to have lunch overlooking the water or to rent a boat to paddle leisurely around the lake. Wander along the paths around the lake to various scenic points like Wood Chip Vantage Point with a fantastic photo opportunity of Bow Bridge. Two bridges cross over the narrowest points of the lake, Bow Bridge and Oak Bridge. The Strawberry Fields, a mosaic memorial honoring the famous John Lennon of the Beatles, lies just to the west side of the lake.

The lake is located in the lower middle of Central Park near the intersection of East 72nd Street and 5th Avenue or West 72nd Street and Central Park West.

Bow Bridge, Central Park, New York City
Bow Bridge was taken during the summer. Unfortunately, I did not get a picture during autumn. You may recognize this bridge from the movie, “You Got Mail”.


Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir

This large body of water in Central Park is popular for runners or walkers. It’s a peaceful and safe area to get some exercise while admiring the fall foliage around the lake. Before or after, stop by the Guggenheim Museum just outside of Central Park at the intersection of 5th Avenue and East 88th Street.


Belvedere Castle

As the second-highest natural point in Central Park, this historic building offers unbelievable panoramic views of Central Park. Designed by Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould, Belvedere Castle was built in 1867 and features exhibit rooms, an observation deck, and a fully functional weather station since 1919.

Belvedere Castle is just north of the 79th Street Traverse (a street that goes through Central Park).

View from Belvedere Castle, Central Park, New York City
View from Belvedere Castle, Central Park, New York City


Model Boat Sailing and Storybook Sculptures

The Conservatory Water (near the intersection of 5th Avenue and 74th Street) is home to model boat sailing. These toy boats (you can’t sail in them) can be rented for a relaxing activity among the natural beauty of Central Park.

Nearby on trails around the pond are statues honoring our childhood story favorites. Hans Christian Andersen sits on a bench reading a book to one of his most beloved characters, the Ugly Duckling. The statue was gifted to New York by the Danish American Women’s Association.

On the north side of the lake, you’ll find a large statue of Alice from Alice in Wonderland sitting on a mushroom top with other colorful characters from the popular storybook. This was one of my favorite sights in Central Park, especially with the fall colors around it.

Alice in Wonderland Sculpture Central Park, New York City

Central Park Zoo

While it may be a small zoo, it packs quite a punch. And with cooler temperatures, the animals are a bit more frisky! It’s easy to spend a few hours here watching the animals interacting with their keepers and each other.

More trails meander through the woods just outside the zoo. Occasionally a statue will give you a reference of where you are. Other picturesque areas include the Hallett Nature Sanctuary and Gapstow Bridge over The Pond. Wollman Ice Skating Rink is a seasonal attraction, but check the dates for when it reopens. The Central Park Carousel was originally crafted in 1908 and is one of the largest carousels in America. And don’t miss giving a pet to the statue of Balto the dog, commemorated for leading a sled team through the Alaskan winter to deliver medicine to the city of Nome.

Other Wildlife in Central Park

You may not see bears or cougars in New York City, but there’s plenty of wildlife to admire.  From turtles, fish, and ducks in the waters, to the brave little squirrels, chipmunks, and raccoons, you never know what might cross your path. Central Park is a common stop for migratory birds on the Western Atlantic Flyway. Over 300 bird species have been spotted at various times of the year. Birdwatching is a popular pastime, and the Ramble will give you the best opportunity to see many different bird species.

Events in Central Park

Central Park often hosts various events and performances during the autumn season. Check the Central Park website or local event listings to see if any concerts, festivals, or other activities are taking place during your visit. Rumsey Playfield and the Bandshell are popular venues for concerts.

What to Wear in Central Park

With the cooler temperatures and some unpaved trails, you want to dress warmly and comfortably. Long pants, comfortable shoes, and layers are recommended. You’ll warm up walking around, but if you sit for a while, you might need a sweater or jacket. The most important item in your wardrobe will be your shoes. Running shoes or hiking boots are recommended as Central Park is a lot bigger than you can imagine.

And if you’re an Instagram lover, a cute scarf or hat will look great in your pictures with the fall foliage!

Best Time of Year to Visit Central Park

I’ve visited Central Park in the summer and fall, but autumn is my favorite time of year. The crisp air and warm fall colors give a unique energy that’s different from the city vibe. So while you may want to do that boat ride out the Statue of Liberty or see the newest Broadway show, take some time to rejuvenate in the vibrant fall colors in Central Park.



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  1. Oh my, how beautiful is that! I’d miss out on shopping just to stroll around Central Park and take in all the amazing colours. Great tips about where to get the best view!

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