Best Fall Photo Spots in Central Park
It has been said that Central Park is most beautiful in autumn, when the leaves turn into a lightshow of golds, browns and shades of red that can only be found in Mother Nature. Just as in spring, when the trees come alive with color, fall is a feast for the eyes and a photographer’s delight. Leaves change color early fall due to shortened daylight and colder temperatures, typically beginning in October and continuing into early November.
Central Park really comes alive with the colors of fall. This is our list of the top spots for photographers to capture these colors and view the changing of the leaves. A number of these places are located around the bodies of water in Central Park. The detail of the trees reflected in water makes for gorgeous photographs.
Starting on the south side at Central Park South between 5th & 6th Avenues, the area known as the Pond, famous for the Gapstow Bridge, becomes a kaleidoscope of colors. Due to the vines on the bridge and the surrounding trees of Black Cherry, Sawtooth Oak, Gray Birch and Tupelo, it is a favorite fall spot of photographers. Add in the wildlife aspect of the ducks and geese that inhabit the pond, and it becomes a top spot for local New Yorkers and tourists alike.
Proceeding north through the park will lead you to The Mall (located mid park between 66-72nd street) - home of the largest collection of American elms in Central Park and a popular spot in the fall for a stroll, especially when it’s under the canopy of yellow leaves that these trees create. Sit on one of the benches that line the literary walk and listen to music or have your portrait done. Here you are certain to encounter a vast array of street artists as well.
Continue your stroll north, up to the Bethesda Terrace (mid park 72nd street). Looking out over the Bethesda Fountain, you can take in the view of the Lake and the trees that border the area. The reflection of the changing trees in the water is breathtaking. You are also certain to see many engagement and wedding photographs being taken in this area.
Continue towards the West in the direction of Bow Bridge (Mid-Park at 74th Street west of Bethesda Terrace), the most photographed bridge in the Central Park. Its 2015 restoration has left it looking even more beautiful than ever. The bridge cannot take a bad photo, and when you add the changing colors to its background and you have a gorgeous backdrop for your photos in this area.
Once you cross the Bow Bridge, you can wander through the area known as The Ramble (is composed of 38 acres of winding pathways between 73rd and 78th streets). Take a mini escape from the hectic pulse of NYC with a stroll through the Ramble, with its tall trees and natural wooded atmosphere reminiscent of the Adirondacks. If you find the path that takes you up to Belvedere Castle (Mid-Central Park at 79th Street), you will be rewarded with the amazing views over Turtle Pond and the Great Lawn. You will also be able to capture images of some of the classic prewar buildings framed by the magnificent colors of the leaves.
As you continue heading north, you will reach the Reservoir (85th Street to 96th Street, from east to west). Due to the different kinds of Cherry trees around it, you will notice that the east side of the Reservoir is lined with yellow leaves and a sharp contrasting dark bark, while the west side of the Reservoir is bathed in red and bronze.
The North Woods (mid-park 102nd Street), is similar to the Ramble in the sense that you will feel as if you are on a stroll in a forest; one that is primarily made up of 6 major tree groups (Black Cherry, Pin Oak, Red Oak, Scarlet Oak, Red Maple and American Elm), with colors ranging from yellow to red, and scarlet to brown. Between the waterfalls, the trees and story bridges here offer many amazing spots to take photos, and you can also just sit back and enjoy the peace and the calm.
Head to the Conservatory Gardens (East Side from 104th-106th Streets), not just for the trees but also for the plants and flowers. The Gardens are comprised of three separate and unique gardens, each more beautiful than the next. The photo opportunities are limitless. This is another favorite spot for engagement and wedding photos, and you might even come across a wedding ceremony in the area as you’re passing by. Some of the most interesting trees and plants to be found here include: Crabapple, Stewart, Star Magnolia, and Mums.
Finally, head up to the Harlem Meer (North East corner from 106-110th Street), an area that is completely surrounded by trees. Similar to the Pond and the Lake, the reflections of the trees in their fall colors provide a lovely backdrop to anyone’s photos.
Central Park is one big photography studio and a perfect background in all seasons, but what makes the fall so special is the constantly changing palette of colors that offers so many unique opportunities to capture amazing images of Central Park.
With so much ground to cover, we didn’t cover every spot in Central Park for this feature and we realize that we have left some other amazing places (e.g. Shakespeare Garden) off of the list. Do you have a favorite spot that you like to go in fall to take pictures? Share your photos with us on centralpark.com, or tweet them to us @CentralPark_NYC.