A visit to New York City is not complete without a stop at Manhattan’s Central Park. All throughout this 843-acre park, you will find never ending pathways, beautiful greenery & foliage, plenty of wildlife, and lots of views.
This guide will be going over 20 of the best views of Central Park and exactly where to find them. Whether you are looking for views of different unique aspects of the park, Manhattan skyline views, or you want to view the park from above, this guide will cover it all for you.
Read on to learn more about how to find the top spots in Central Park and what they entail.
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The main topic for this guide is just going to be the best views of Central Park. Whether those are views of Central Park attractions, the NYC skyline or the views from up above.
However, if you are looking for a more detailed guide about what to do in Central Park, then take a look at these helpful overviews of the best things to do in Central Park and a Central Park walking tour. There certainly will be some overlap, but those guide will be a bit more about the attractions than the views.
1) Views of Central Park Map
Before going into the viewpoints themselves, I wanted to layout a map of the park with each of the views pinned down.
I tried to pinpoint the exact location of these views on the map. For example, the Reservoir is a huge 1.6 mile loop, however on the northeast part of the Reservoir is a viewpoint where you get the most wholistic skyline view. So, on the map below you will see that location pointed out.
You may also see numerous views for one location. That is because you can get different angles and landscapes in depending on where you are standing. For example, you can get a view from on top of Belvedere Castle or you can get a view of the castle from the ground.
Feel free to refer to the map as you go through this guide and once you are out in the park itself.
I will be breaking out the best views of Central Park into three sections:
» First I will go into the best views within the park itself that are focused on different attractions of the park.
» Next I will talk about places in the park where you can get the best views of the Manhattan skyline.
» And lastly, I will go over some spots outside of the park, where you can get views of the park from farther away.
→ Visit these Central Park views as part of a longer New York Itinerary that takes you around the city (it includes many more top things to do in NYC!)
2) Best Views in Central Park
Let’s start out with some of the best views in Central Park that will have you taking in some of the best sights.
The Pond Viewpoints
On the map above, I pin pointed three different Pond viewpoint spots. The first is located on a large rock on the east side of the Pond.
Here you will get great elevated views of the Pond, Gapstow Bridge, the park’s trees, and also some skyline views as well.
The second viewpoint is on the southern end of the Pond, where you will get a great view of the Gapstow bridge out in front of you.
The third viewpoint is from the Gapstow bridge itself, where you can take in the Pond as well as the The Plaza Hotel out behind it.
Hallett Nature Sanctuary
Within the Hallett Nature Sanctuary you will find a few different views, however my favorite view is from the lookout spot overlooking the park and the Pond down below.
From the north side of the Wollman Rink, you can get a great elevated view of the rink down below alongside plenty of park landscape all around.
The rink is only open during those colder months of the year though, just a heads up.
The Mall & Literary Walk
One of the top spots in the park in general is The Mall. Here you will find a nice long straight pathway with American Elm trees on either side.
During peak foliage these trees turn these beautiful yellow color and is one of the best places to take some photos.
At the end of The Mall you will find the Bethesda Terrace area. Instead of heading down to the terrace, why not enjoy a view from above first.
Make your way across the street and over the underpass to take in a view of the terrace, lake, and Ramble down below.
The most famous of bridges in Central Park is the Bow Bridge. There are several viewpoints of the bridge and on the map, I pin pointed three of them to enjoy.
The first is on the bridge itself. So, whether you are taking a picture of the bridge or from the bridge, you can’t go wrong here.
The second is from the southwest side of the bridge, where you can get some great reflection photos of the bridge off of the lake.
The third viewpoint is from a bit further away on pathway parallel to West Drive. Here you will get a great vantage point of the Bow Bridge with the lake in the foreground.
The Ramble is one of the most confusing parts of the park to be quite honest. But it does have some viewpoints to enjoy as well.
One of these is located just across the Bow Bridge and as you walk towards the left, you will see a pathway heading to the lake. Here you will get a great view of the famous San Remo towers.
While I didn’t point them out on the map, if you stay on the southern end of the Ramble, there are also nice views of Bow Bridge all along the way.
The Belvedere Castle is the highest point of Central Park, so as you may imagine, there are some nice views from up top.
You can spend time on the terrace outside the castle, and you can even head up into the castle to the two other outdoor terraces. There are great views all around as you take in the Turtle Pond down below and the Great Lawn in the distance.
I also pinpointed a location right in front of Belvedere Castle, where you can take in the view from down below. Here you should get a nice reflection of the castle off the water on a calm day.
Towards the northern end of Central Park, on the west side, you will find another water feature called the Pool. Here you will get some great views of the surrounding Central Park foliage and trees all around the water.
On the eastern side of the Pool, you will also get a nice view of the Loch stream heading under the Glen Span Arch.
The Loch & Waterfall
While the entirety of the walk along the Loch is just beautiful to take in, at the end of the walk you will be welcomed to the Central Park waterfall.
While not a big waterfall by any means, it is the most scenic of waterfalls in the park to take in. Enjoying this area during winter in Central Park is another great experience to have.
Lastly, on the list is the Harlem Meer. This water feature is located in the northeast corner of the park and is one of the quietest sections to enjoy.
You can really enjoy views from all around but I really enjoy the view from the west side of the Meer overlooking the Charles A Dana Discovery Center in the distance.
Note: there is construction around the Harlem Meer as the area is going through upgrades.
3) Central Park Skyline View
Next up are the Central Park skyline views that can be found within the park itself. While some of the views from the previous section may have had some skyline within the views, these locations will be a bit more so about the skyline itself.
The main skyline you will get to enjoy from Central Park is looking southbound. Here you will have the tallest and most well-known buildings out in front of you with the park in the foreground.
Just off of West Drive, there is a large rock formation jutting into the Lake called the Hernshead Rocks.
If you head around the rocks, you will get yourself to a great viewpoint of the NYC skyline out in the distance. On a calm day, you should also get some nice reflections of the skyline and surrounding trees.
The Reservoir in Central Park is made up of a 1.6 mile loop. I would highly recommend walking the entire thing as you will find some fantastic views all around.
If you make your way to the northeast corner of the Reservoir, you will have the most vast view of the Manhattan skyline there is in the park. You will get to see both the southern and western skylines of the park with the Reservoir right out in front of you.
The Reservoir is also home to the best cherry blossoms in Central Park, so be sure to visit during that time of year too!
The Oak Bridge connects West Drive and The Ramble. From the bridge itself, you will get some great views of the skyline with the Central Park Lake and Hernshead Rocks in view.
Dene Summerhouse Treehouse for Dreaming
Towards the southern end of the park there is a large rock with a small structure called the Dene Summerhouse Treehouse for Dreaming.
Since it is elevated, there will be some great views of the park down below with the skyline hovering out in the distance.
The entirety of the Great Lawn will give you some great views of the skyline. However, if you head towards the pathway just north of the Great Lawn, you will get one of the best photo ops.
The Conservatory Water
The last location on the list of skyline views is at the Conservatory Water. Here you will find a small water feature, where model boats are raced. Also, on the northern end is the famous Alice in Wonderland statue to enjoy.
4) Best View of Central Park from Above
While all the locations previously mentioned were viewing spots within the park itself, you can also make your way to places outside of the park. From these spots you will get some views of the park from a far.
Columbus Circle Restaurants & Bars
On the southwest corner of the park you will find Columbus Circle. Here you will find buildings full of shops, bars and restaurants. There are several places to choose from that will offer great views of the park from above.
Some of these include: the Aviary at the Mandarin Oriental, Porter House Bar & Grill, Robert restaurant, Center Bar, among others.
→ Learn more about the best restaurants with a Central Park view
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is located on the eastern side of the park around 82nd Street. If you make your way to the rooftop you will be welcomed to the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. Here you will get great views of Central Park from above as you are essentially right on top of the park.
Park Lane Hotel Darling Bar
There is the new Darling bar at the Park Lane hotel. The hotel is located right on Central Park South and will give the most wholistic views of the park from top to bottom.
If you want to see the view of Central Park from above in style, then you can opt for a helicopter tour that will take you above the park, as well as to many other attractions within the city.
There are various options to choose from, whether it is a 20 minute ride, 40 minute ride, or options such as a sunset ride. Either way you choose, it won’t get more exhilarating than seeing the park from above.
→ Feel free to sign up for an NYC Helicopter tour that will take you over Central Park & plenty more New York City highlights.
Top of the Rock
While the views are a bit obstructed by the high rises all along the southern edge of the park, you can still get some beautiful views from the Top of the Rock. At 70 floors in the air, you will enjoy those great views of the 843 acre park surrounded by buildings in every which direction.
→ Check out some other viewpoints in the city in the guide to the best views in New York City
5) Where to Stay in Manhattan
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:
Cambria Hotel | Hyatt House | Moxy NYC
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:
LUMA Hotel | citizenM Hotel | Aliz Hotel
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 able to be walking distance from the start of the Brooklyn Bridge walkway.
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:
The Roxy Hotel | Sheraton Tribeca | Four Seasons Hotel
» Check out this helpful guide that talks all about the best places to stay in New York during a visit
6) Central Park Views Recap
So, to recap the 20 best views of Central Park, here is a list of all those mentioned in this guide that you can visit during your time in the park:
1) The Pond
2) Hallett Nature Sanctuary
3) Wollman Rink
4) The Mall & Literary Walk
5) Bethesda Terrace
6) Bow Bridge
7) The Ramble Lookout
8) Belvedere Castle
9) The Pool
10) The Loch & Waterfall
11) Harlem Meer
12) Hernshead Rocks
13) The Reservoir
14) Oak Bridge
15) Dene Summerhouse
16) Great Lawn
17) Conservatory Water
18) Columbus Circle Restaurants & Bars
19) Met Rooftop
20) Park Lane Hotel Darling Bar
So, with all that said, you should now have plenty of options to choose from when deciding where to enjoy some of the best views of Central Park. If you have any questions about the locations, feel free to comment down below.
Also, don’t forget to check out the remaining New York itineraries and guides up on the site like the best NYC cherry blossom locations. Have fun out there and safe travels!