When exploring where and what we were going to do with our two weeks in New York, I found myself exploring the Central Park website. It was here that I came across the Heart of the Park tour which is a FREE 90-minute tour led by a Central Park Conservancy Guide. The tour takes you on an east-to-west route straight through the heart of Central Park. I booked the 5 of us on the tour and then eagerly awaited our New York trip to come around.
We met our lovely tour guide In front of the Samuel F. B. Morse statue (inside the Park at 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue) where we were given some stickers to show that we were part of the tour. She has the kids attention from the moment she started talking, they loved hearing all about the boating lake (Conservatory Water) and the 11-year-old in me thought it cool to see where some of Stuart Little had been filmed as well as 13 going on 30. To be honest, everywhere in New York excited my film buff side.
Being on a tour like this means you hear and see things that you otherwise wouldn’t, like this Eagles nest above the middle window at the top. A nest built on the window sills of apartments that sell for over $15-million
Central Park is home to many statues; I could lose days to just wondering around looking at them all and finding out the history to why and how they came to be in Central Park. A couple that we came across on our Heart of the Park tour was the Hans Christian Andersen statue and the Alice in Wonderland statue, as you can see below the sculpture is a favourite among children, who love to climb atop it and explore its varied textures and hiding spaces.
Continuing our tour, we took in so many beautiful arches, a personal favourite of mine is the Trefoil Arch. This 16-foot arch was constructed in 1862 to provide a pathway from Conservatory Water to the Lake. Unlike the majority of bridges and arches in Central Park that were made from sandstone, the Trefoil Arch was built using brownstone. The arch’s east and west sides each feature a different type of design. While the arch’s eastern side is gothic in style with a trefoil archway, its western side has a rounded arch. Also, the eastern side has cast-iron railings and intricate quatrefoils on either side of the arch, while the western side simply features buttresses decorated in a floral pattern.
Just the week before we arrived in New York, all this was under snow, funnily enough, the week after we left the snow came down heavy again. I’m sure would if it had snowed during our trip it would have hindered what we did while there but I can’t but to think how magical this park would have looked in a blanket of the white stuff.
We walked past the Loeb Boathouse where visitors can rent rowboats, hire an authentic Venetian gondola, or dine overlooking views of the Lake. We came back this way after our tour had finished to grab some food from Boathouse Express Cafe, our tour guide recommended trying one of the burgers, and it didn’t disappoint.
Again the film & TV buff side to me was ridiculously excited to explore Bethesda Terrace; the kids had fun inside the mall with its echoing sounds and eye-catching decor.
If you were to ask me what my favourite part of Central Park is, I would have to reply with Bow Bridge. The first cast-iron bridge in the Park (and the second oldest in America), being built between 1859 and 1862. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it on Spider-Man 3 back in 2007, ten years later I was walking over it myself. We came back to see it again during our visit so expect more photos of Bow Bridge in future blog posts.
Everywhere we turned there was something to see; I think even if we were to visit Central Park every day during our stay, we still wouldn’t see everything there was to see in the park.
The final spot on our tour was Strawberry Fields, a living memorial to the world-famous singer, songwriter and peace activist, John Lennon. We didn’t realise quite how close it was to his building the Dakota until our tour guide pointed it out.
Come the end of the tour, we said our thank yous and goodbyes to our amazing tour guide. It was such a fantastic way to spend our morning in New York; it gave us more of an in-depth look at Central Park than what we would have ever seen ourselves walking around. If you’re heading to New York anytime soon, then we would highly recommend booking yourself a space on this FREE tour.