Midday Getaways in Central Park - What to Do When You Only Have a Couple of Hours to Spare
You could certainly spend an entire day (or more!) exploring all the different areas of Central Park, but sometimes you just have a couple of hours to spare. Whether you're in town for a conference and are stopping in during your lunch break, or whether you're popping in between other New York sightseeing stops, you’ll find lots to do in just a limited amount of time.
If you only have a couple of hours in Central Park, you'll probably spend it in the more populated south end, entering either at 59th St. and Fifth Ave. or at Columbus Circle. Those two locations are where much of the action is in the park.
Top Ideas in Less Than Two Hours
Pedicab Tour: You can either book a pedicab tour online ahead of time, or walk up to one of the many that will be lined up outside of the park. Pedicab tours are generally either one or two hours long. A one-hour tour will show you the highlights of the south side of the park, while a two-hour tour will encompass more of the park. You can get some big discounts if you book ahead online, but tour rates are often negotiable as well. Head to Columbus Circle if you're looking for the pedicabs.
Bike rental: Rent a bike online and explore Central Park on wheels. If you bike in Central Park, make sure you follow the rules. Bike in the drives during non-traffic hours and in the outer recreation lane when car traffic is allowed. Also, don't bike in the pathways; they’re reserved for pedestrians.
Bike tour: You can also have a tour guide lead you through Central Park by bicycle. Cycle along scenic paths at a casual pace as your guide takes you through many famous landmarks and attractions. Book a bike tour online to reserve your spot.
Central Park Zoo: Located at 64th St. and Fifth Ave., the Central Park Zoo is a small, 6.5 acre zoo with animals such as sea lions, penguins and grizzly bears. Don't miss one of the sea lion feedings at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. when the animals love to show off their tricks.
Horse and carriage ride: A horse and carriage ride provides the quintessential New York experience. You can either book online ahead of time or walk up. Pre-arranged rides can range anywhere from 45 minutes to three hours. Just beware that depending on when you go to the city, New York City regulations prevent the horses from riding in temperatures above 89 degrees or less than 19 degrees. Look for the horses lined up along Central Park South.
Ice skating at Wollman Rink: If you're heading to Central Park in the winter, you can take a spin around the famed Wollman Rink, which has been featured in many movies and TV shows. It will provide you with sweeping views of the New York skyline. It is located on the east side of the park between 62nd and 63rd St.
Central Park Carousel: Another famed landmark that you should check out is the Carousel, located mid-park at 64th St. It features 57 horses and calliope music that evokes memories of summer carnivals. The current carousel is the fourth to stand in its current location since 1871. It was brought in from Coney Island after two of the previous carousels were destroyed by fire.
Doing Business in the Park During Your Break
Of course, if you are in the park during the workday and want to just do some work outside, there are several places where you can go. The park has eight different "quiet zones" that forbid music (except with headphones), unleashed pets and organized sports.
There are also several areas of the park that are Wi-Fi enabled, which is perfect if you need to check email. You can even take an online course for business and learn how to become a server administrator or a graphic designer, all from the beauty of Central Park.
Central Park has many options for a midday break, from 20 minutes of fun to two hours. There are many more things to do than what are listed here, so get out there and explore!