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Day Tripper - Central Park
05/02/2014 - By Paul Williams

Day Tripper - Central Park

Central Park: A premier destination

For 157 years, Central Park has been one of the premier destinations in the greater New Jersey area. Embedded in the heart of the borough of Manhattan, Central Park offers a multitude of entertainment options and attractions to its 35 million annual visitors. Its 843 acres are chock-full of breathtaking man-made and natural landmarks, various trails that offer hiking, cycling, and even skiing, reserved areas for recreational sporting activities, a world-famous zoo, outdoor concerts, and more. This makes Central Park a perfect, refreshingly natural alternative to busier locations near or in New York City, with a magnificent view of the skyscraping skyline of the city's brilliant architecture.

You can take the train in or load up the car and make the hour-long drive to Central Park to have a picnic, play an outdoor sport, go fishing, explore some of the rich history of New York, or just soak in the spring sunshine as you await the perfect summer beach weather. Central Park is closer than you think. Many attractions inside the park are open and available year-round. Central Park itself is open 365 days a year, and only closes from 1 a.m.-6 a.m. daily.


Must See Attractions:
As you browse our abridged guided tour of Central Park, keep in mind that we cover just a very small sampling of its visual attractions and destinations. Central Park's distinct blend of nature's charm with an injection of city-life flair make it an enjoyable destination for people from all walks of life, whether you enjoy bike rides and trail hikes, or sports as unique as handball, bird watching, and model boat sailing.
Gapstow Bridge:
Originally a wooden bridge, Gapstow was replaced with its current stone structure in 1896. This iconic bridge of Central Park offers postcard views of the city skyscrapers by standing 12 feet high, gracefully curving over 44 feet of water, and stretching 76 feet at full length.

Ramble Stone Arch:
Largely built by boulders found inside the park, this arch measures five feet across and more than 13 feet high, with an underpass of nine feet. Tucked away amidst a dense gathering of trees and shrubs, Ramble Arch is widely considered to be one of the most picturesque bridges or arches in Central Park.

7th Regiment Memorial:
This bronze statue of an American soldier with his hands at rest on his rifle honors the 58 men of the 7th Regiment, who died while defending the Union during the Civil War. Unveiled in June of 1874, the statue still stands in its original spot.

Delacorte Musical Clock:
This clock rings sweet seasonal chimes every half hour near the entrance of the Children's Zoo. It sits atop a three-tiered tower and features a band composed of animals: Two bronze monkeys bang hammers against a bell, a hippo plays violin, and a kangaroo plays the horn, while a bear and a penguin set the tempo on the tambourine and the drums!

Belvedere Castle:
Calvert Vaux, co-designer of Central Park, created this miniature castle in 1869, intending for it to be a lookout location. Today, it still provides the best and highest views of the park and the surrounding cityscape. Whenever you hear the temperature in Central Park on radio or television, they're telling you the temperature atop Belvedere.

Chess & Checkers House:
Since 1952, the Chess & Checkers House has invited players of all ages to borrow pieces from its staff, or bring their own and play a game. In 1986, a surrounding pergola was built to provide shade for players. Dominos and backgammon are also available.

Sheep Meadow:
This 15 acre green pasture was home to a flock of sheep from 1864 to 1934 while the shepherd lived in a nearby Victorian style building. In 1980, it was restored and became Central Park's first "quiet zone," making it the perfect place to have a picnic, fly a kite, or just relax and unwind.

The Reservoir:
Built in the 1860's as a temporary water supply for the city, the reservoir is 40 feet deep and holds a billion gallons of water. Although the reservoir was deemed to be obsolete and decommissioned in 1993, it still offers breathtaking views of the rest of the park and the city along its 1.58 mile track around the perimeter of the water.

Victorian Gardens Amusement Park:
One of the more recent additions to the park in 2003, Victorian Gardens Amusement Park features 12 hand-crafted rides, various carnival games, live interactive shows, and classic concessions that include cotton candy, caramel corn, and ice cream. Every weekend, face painters and balloon sculptors are sure to amaze you! The amusement park is open from May through September, and has varying price options ranging from a per-attraction basis to unlimited daily packages.

Central Park Zoo:
The new state-of-the-art zoo was rebuilt when the Wildlife Conservation Society took over its management in 1984. The zoo showcases animals from tropical, temperate, and polar zones around the world, with a reprise of its older animal houses in the form of limestone sculptures. Spring/Summer hours are Monday- Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. on weekends. For inquires about admission prices, contact the Central Park Zoo directly at (212) 439-6500.

Central Park
Central Park South & 7th Avenue
New York, NY 10019
(212) 310-6600


Fun Facts
• More than 275 species of birds have been sighted in Cental Park
• Central Park is home to roughly 24,000 trees.
• There are a total of 36 bridges and arches throughout the park.
• If you lined up all of Central Park's 9,000 benches, they would stretch for seven miles.!
• Before construction began in the park in the mid 1850s, the area was mostly hayfields and scrublands.
• More than 20,000 barrels of dynamite were used to construct the landscape of Central Park while it was under construction.
• More than 500,000 cubic yards of fresh topsoil needed to be added to the rugged terrain during construction to make the earth rich enough to plant foliage,
• Central Park never had a true grand opening date, since it was opened section by section until completion.



GETTING THERE

Driving:

Take Garden State Parkway North to exit 129 for New Jersey Turnpike North. Take Turnpike exit 16E onto Route 495 East to the Lincoln Tunnel. After going through the tunnel, take 42nd Street exit on the left onto Dyer Avenue, then turn right onto West 42nd Street. Go 0.25 miles and turn left onto 8th Avenue. Proceed to parking garage at 10 Columbus Circle. Exit circle onto Central Park South. Main Entrance for park is one block away at intersection of 7th Avenue.

Public Transportation:
Take any NJ Transit North Jersey Coast Line train to New York Penn Station. Exit Penn Station onto West 34th Street and take M5L bus towards Washington Heights. Central Park South is the fourth stop.




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