7 Best Places to Sunbathe in Central Park
If you're looking to soak up the sun in Manhattan, Central Park is the place to be. There are several venues within the park where you can lay out your beach blanket, slather on the SPF and enjoy the sunshine.
Some of the locations such as Great Lawn, will be extremely crowded in summer months, so if you want a little more privacy, it might pay off to look into some of the smaller, out-of-the-way locales.
Sites for Sun Worshippers
Here are seven of the best places in Central Park to catch some rays:
1. Great Lawn: The Great Lawn is at the geographical center of Central Park, and it's also the central hub of sunbathers. The lawn is 55-acres of wide-open green and offers the perfect place to spread out your towel – as long as you don't mind hanging out with the masses. The Great Lawn is located mid-park between 79th and 84th St.
2. Sheep Meadow: Sheep Meadow is smaller than the Great Lawn, but quite popular for sunbathing. A bonus? The area has Wi-Fi, so you can check your email and surf the Web while you tan. Sheep Meadow is also one of Central Park’s designated quiet zones, so no music is allowed (unless you have headphones). Sheep Meadow is accessible from the west side of the park from W. 66th to W. 69th St.
3. East Green: Once used as a cricket field, the East Green is now a lawn full of blooming trees, and a quiet, out-of-the-way place to sit in the sun. It is also one of the park's quiet zones and is located on the east side from 67th to 76th St.
4. East Meadow: Not to be confused with East Green, East Meadow is further uptown and is not a quiet zone. In fact, many events and recreational activities are held on this green, and in the summer it's a great place to sunbathe. The lawn recently underwent a year-long $3 million restoration, but reopened in 2011. The appropriately named East Meadow is on the park's east side from 97th to 100th St.
5. Cedar Hill: This grassy area is just south of the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the east side of the park from 76th to 79th St. It is a gently sloping hill with many blooming flowers, and a perfect area for picnicking, reading a book or just sitting out in the sun.
6. Strawberry Fields: Named after the Beatles' song Strawberry Fields Forever, this quiet area is located on the west side of the park at W. 72nd St. If you're sunbathing here, there is also an area with benches that are shaded by elm trees, which will give you a bit of shade if you want to enjoy the sunny day but don't want to be in the direct glare of the sun.
7. North Meadow: The aptly named North Meadow is on the north side of the park between 97th and 102nd St. It's a little more out-of-the-way than the Great Lawn, so you’re bound to find a little more space. You can watch a baseball or softball game on the North Meadow fields while you sit out. Just watch out for fly balls! You can also head to the North Meadow Recreation Center on the southern side of the lawn for some Frisbee, jump-roping or other sports before or after you tan.
Protect Yourself from the Elements
If you are going to sunbathe in Central Park, make sure to bring sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat with you. While many of these areas such as Strawberry Fields offer some shade, others are in the wide open and there's little chance to shield yourself from the rays. And while many people undergo anti-aging cosmetic procedures to combat the effects of too much sun, you'll want to protect your skin from as much damage as you can.
Of course, this is not an inclusive list of places where you can sunbathe in Central Park. Feel free to explore the park and find your own favorite spot to catch some rays.
— by Kathryn Sucich
Kathryn Sucich is a freelance writer. In any battle between her skin and the sun, the sun will always win, so she makes sure to use a good sunblock and anti-aging skin care products with SPF for everyday use.