Visiting Central Park can be overwhelming for a first-time visitor. The park is expansive with so many different highlights in all corners of the park. You may be wondering where to even enter the park as there are just so many entrances throughout.
Choosing which of the Central Park entrances to walk in from can help dictate the route you will take as you stroll through these 843 acres of prime scenery. This guide will go through 18 of the main Central Park entrances to choose from to better help plan out your day.
I will also pinpoint the entrances on a map, talk about the closest sites and attractions to the entrances, and how to go about a day visiting New York’s Central Park.
What's in this article?
1) Introduction & Overview
I will start off by saying that for the most part, you do not need to go out of your way to get yourself to a particular entrance of the park. If you are coming from the Upper East Side, then choose an entrance that is closest to there. If coming from midtown, choose an entrance on the southern end of the park.
At the end of the day, it does not really matter that much about which entrance you choose since odds are you will be doing a good amount of walking anyways.
On the other hand, if you are looking to just visit certain attractions, then it may be more beneficial to pay attention to exactly where you are entering (especially if you are short on time). This also may hold true if you are interested in taking a horse drawn carriage ride, or getting on a pedicab. As I talk through the 18 main Central Park entrances, I will also mention which sites and attractions in Central Park are closest.
A few additional things to note about the park that can be helpful for your visit:
→ The 4 streets that surround the outer park are:
• Central Park South = 59th Street
• Central Park North = 110th Street
• Central Park East = 5th Avenue (signs will just indicate 5th Avenue)
• Central Park West = 8th Avenue (signs will just indicate Central Park West)
→ Within the park there are 4 main streets – East Drive, West Drive, Center Drive, and Terrace Drive. So as I mention these throughout the guide, just know that I am talking about streets within the park itself.
→ Note that some entrances are traverses where cars can cut through the park such as 79th Street. If coming in from these entrances, you will obviously not want to follow the cars. Instead, you should also see pedestrian entrances on either side.
How Many Entrances Are There to Central Park: Believe it or not there are around 50 entrances to Central Park that can be found on all four sides. Most of these entrances are low key pedestrian entrances that are used by those who know they are there and live nearby. While many are pedestrian only entrances, others allow cars to pass through the park, and a few are made for the horse & carriages / pedicabs to enter from. For the average tourist though, starting at one of the main entrances will be easiest to begin the navigation around the park.
2) List of Central Park Entrances
Below is a list of the Central Park entrances (broken out by park side) that I will be highlighting through the rest of this guide:
South (Central Park South / 59th Street)
→ 59th Street & 5th Avenue (Grand Army Plaza)
→ 59th Street & 6th Avenue
→ 59th Street & 7th Avenue
→ 59th Street & 8th Avenue (Columbus Circle)
West (Central Park West)
→ 67th Street & Central Park West
→ 72nd Street & Central Park West
→ 79th Street & Central Park West (Museum of Natural History)
→ 86th Street & Central Park West
→ 100th Street & Central Park West
North (Central Park North / 110th Street)
→ 110th Street & Central Park West (Frederick Douglas Circle Plaza)
→ 110th Street & Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd
→ 110th Street & Malcolm X Blvd
East (5th Avenue)
→ 64th Street & 5th Avenue
→ 72nd Street & 5th Avenue
→ 79th Street & 5th Avenue (The Met – South)
→ 85th Street & 5th Avenue (The Met – North)
→ 90th Street & 5th Avenue
→ 102nd Street & 5th Avenue
3) Central Park Map Entrances
Below you can find a map with each of these entrances pinpointed down.
→ Central Park South / 59th Street: Red
→ Central Park West: Yellow
→ Central Park North / 110th Street: Purple
→ Central Park East / 5th Avenue: Black
4) Central Park Entrances South Side
• 59th Street & 5th Avenue (Grand Army Plaza)
• 59th Street & 6th Avenue (Center Drive)
• 59th Street & 7th Avenue (West Drive)
• 59th Street & 8th Avenue (Columbus Circle)
Let’s begin with the southern end of the park along 59th Street (aka Central Park South). There is one entrance at each avenue here – 5th, 6th, 7th & 8th.
These are some of the most popular entrances to the park. Most people who are traveling to the park from below 59th Street, end up getting off a subway around this area. Essentially all the main NYC subways have a stop near 59th Street.
The entrances also give the easiest and quickest access to many of the top attractions in the park including The Pond, Hallett Nature Sanctuary, Central Park Zoo, Wollman Rink, and Heckscher Playground.
In addition, here is where you will find horse & carriages lined up if you are interested in taking part of a ride along the southern end of the park. Not only do you have horse & carriage rides starting from here, but you also have pedicabs too (many nearby the 5th Avenue entrance). A pedicab can be a quicker way to see the park if you are short on time or don’t want to walk as much.
5) Central Park Entrances West Side
• 67th Street & Central Park West
• 72nd Street & Central Park West
• 79th Street & Central Park West
• 86th Street & Central Park West
• 100th Street & Central Park West
Moving onto the West side of the park, you will find entrances every few blocks from 59th Street all the way up to 110th Street. I have highlighted 5 of these entrances that are around ~7 blocks away from each other.
If you are coming from the Upper West Side, then odds are you will be using one of the entrances on this side of the park. Whether that be from Lincoln Center, the Museum of Natural History, or Riverside Park.
Once you enter from any of the Central Park West entrances, you will soon meet up with the main loop of the park (called West Drive on this side of the park). From there, you should be able to get yourself going in the right direction.
Some highlights that are nearby the west side entrances include: Tavern on the Green (67th Street), Sheep Meadow (67th Street), The Lake & Bow Bridge (72nd Street), The Ramble (72nd Street), Belvedere Castle (81st Street), the Great Lawn (81st Street), the Reservoir (86th Street), North Meadow (100th Street), and North Woods (100th Street).
6) Central Park Entrances North Side
• 110th Street & Central Park West (Frederick Douglas Circle Plaza)
• 110th Street & Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd
• 110th Street & Malcolm X Blvd
The north side of the park is outlined by 110th Street (aka Central Park North). Here you will find a few main entrances that will get you into the northern most part of Central Park.
If you are coming from further up the Upper East / Upper West sides or anywhere in Harlem and Morningside Heights, then these north entrances can work for you.
Here you will find The Loch and The Ravine, the Central Park waterfall, the Blockhouse, among several other highlights along the way. In addition, there is the Harlem Meer located in the northeast corner of the park nearby the Lasker Rink.
7) Central Park Entrances East Side
• 64th Street & 5th Avenue
• 72nd Street & 5th Avenue
• 79th Street & 5th Avenue
• 85th Street & 5th Avenue
• 90th Street & 5th Avenue
• 102nd Street & 5th Avenue
Similar to the west side of the park, on the east side you will consistently find entrances every few blocks from 59th Street to 110th Street. Here I have highlighted 6 of the main entrances to choose from.
Entering from the east side of the park (aka 5th Avenue), will mostly be done if coming anywhere in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Maybe you are just planning to walk along the area, do some shopping, or visit one of the nearby museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Guggenheim.
Some of the nearby highlights to the east side entrances include: Central Park Zoo (64th Street), the Mall & Literary Walk (64th Street), Bethesda Terrace & The Lake (72nd Street), The Ramble (72nd Street), Loeb Boathouse (72nd Street), Belvedere Castle (79th Street), the Great Lawn (79th Street), the Reservoir (85th Street and 90th Street), North Meadow (102nd Street), Conservatory Garden (102nd Street).
8) Best Main Entrances Recap
So, to recap the entrances that are closest to just some of the park’s main attractions:
Best Central Park Zoo Entrance: the closest entrance to the zoo will be right at 64th Street and 5th Avenue, which brings you directly in front of the zoo entrance.
Best Central Park Reservoir Entrance: while there are entrances to the Reservoir on all sides, the main entrance is on 90th Street and 5th Avenue. Here is where you will find the Engineer’s Gate entrance, and immediate access the Reservoir loop, East Drive and the Bridle Path.
Best Lake Entrance: whether you are coming from the east side or west side, then opt for 72nd Street entrance. This entrance will take you along Terrace Drive in the park, where you will be greeted by the Central Park Lake, Bow Bridge, Bethesda Terrace & Fountain, and Loeb Boathouse.
Best Belvedere Castle Entrance: the castle lays in the center of the park alongside the 79th Street traverse. So entering, from 79th Street on either side will be your best bet if you want to visit the castle and the Turtle Pond down below.
Best North Woods Entrance: if interested in the North Woods, any of the main entrances along the northern end of the park will do the trick here.
Best Entrance for Horse and Carriage & Pedicab: if you would like to take a ride on either, start off at the 59th Street and 5th Avenue entrance, where you should see many lined up. If you don’t see them there, then continue another avenue over along the southern end of the park, and you should spot some.
Best Entrance for Running or Biking: I would recommend starting a run or bike at the 59th Street and 7th Avenue entrance. Here you will enter right onto West drive and can begin the loop around Central Park.
Overall Best Central Park Entrance: this is a tough one but I would opt for the entrance on the corner of 59th Street and 5th Avenue. You immediately will be greeted with views of the Pond and Gapstow Bridge (if heading on the lower pathway here), and then pass the Hallett Nature Sanctuary, Wollman Rink, followed by the Mall & Literary Walk. From there you can continue northbound visiting many of the other top highlights along the way.
→ Take a look at this self-guided walking tour of Central Park that will take you through it all.
9) Where to Stay in NYC
There are so many different neighborhoods to choose from when visiting Manhattan. Below are some of my top choices for a few of my recommended locations in the city:
Chelsea: If you are looking to be well situated between uptown, midtown, and downtown, then Chelsea can be a great option for you. You have highlights such as the High Line, Little Island, the Vessel, and the Hudson River right nearby.
And if you are looking to head to Central Park uptown or the World Trade Center area further downtown, then you are just a quick subway ride away. Recommended Chelsea hotels:
Midtown: Right in the middle of the action is the midtown area, where you have the one and only Times Square, and all Broadway shows right at your doorstep.
You are also within walking distance to the southern end of Central Park. Almost all subway lines connect at Times Square so getting around should not be an issue. Recommended Midtown hotels:
Tribeca: If you are trying to stay in downtown Manhattan, then I would recommend looking into the Tribeca area. Staying here and you will be just a stone’s throw away from the World Trade Center area, 9/11 Memorial Pools & Museum, and the hop on point for the Statue of Liberty. You will also be walking distance away from the world famous Brooklyn Bridge.
While Central Park is a bit further away, you should still be able to reach it in about 30 minutes by subway. Recommended Tribeca Hotels:
» Check out this helpful guide that talks all about the best places to stay in New York during a visit
That about wraps up a guide to the best entrances of Central Park. If you have any questions or comments about it all, feel free to write them in below. Also don’t forget to check out the other New York itineraries and guides up on the site.
Have fun out there and safe travels!