The 15 Best Things To Do in Summer in Central Park

What to Do in Central Park in the Summer

Central Park is just beautiful in the summer! The trees, bushes, and meadows are green, the plants bloom in all kinds of colors, and there is a lot to do in the park. From morning to night, you can really experience a lot in Central Park, and there are many famous events like the free concerts or Shakespeare in the Park.

Many New Yorkers like to stay in Central Park until sunset during the warm months. No wonder, after all, as there is a lot to see! I have compiled the best summer activities in Central Park for you here, so that you can get the most out of your time in New York City in the summer – have fun!

15 Amazing Events and Activities in Central Park

  1. 01

    Lakeside Restaurant am Loeb Boathouse

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    At the Loeb Boathouse, you can rent boats and cruise around Central Park Lake. The boats cost $20 per hour and require an additional $20 deposit. There is room for up to four people in the boat, and if you want, you can ask for a life jacket. If the sun is blazing, be sure to take something to drink and, most importantly, sunscreen.

    Another highlight is the classic Venetian gondola ride, an especially romantic tour for couples. A gondola tour costs $50 per half hour and there is room for up to six people in the gondola.

  2. 02

    Picnicking in Central Park

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    Picnicking in Central Park is always a must-do activity during the summer. There are countless large and small lawns that invite you to relax, making for quite a few spots that are suitable for picnicking in the park, not just the popular Sheep Meadow.

    The largest lawn in Central Park is the Great Lawn, where the popular Central Park Concerts are held. The Great Lawn is a large, green space and is a wonderful spot to relax and have a picnic in the park after a long walk. For the athletes among you, there are even some baseball fields on the green, oval area. You’ll find the Great Lawn in the middle of the park at the 79th to 86th street level.

    Another picnic option is East Green. Here you can sit on a blanket between the trees and enjoy your meal. The East Green is located on 5th Avenue between 69th and 72nd Street.

    The most romantic picnic spot in Central Park is definitely Cherry Hill by the Bow Bridge. It has been the backdrop for many Hollywood movies, such as You’ve got Mail. You can make yourself comfortable on a small slope and enjoy the beautiful view of the lake and the bridge. The bridge is located in the middle of the park around 72nd Street.

  3. 03

    Sheep Meadow

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    In the summer, it’s just wonderful to let the sun shine on your face! In Central Park, you will find numerous lawns where you can sunbathe, and one of the many that we would like to recommend is the Sheep Meadow. Here you can relax together with many other people and really unwind. The green area is wide, flat, and especially well frequented during the summer, but you can always find a place to relax, even in the shade. The skyscrapers towering above the trees at the edge of the meadow are an imposing sight to see!

    Many New Yorkers also come to this place during the summer to sunbathe and picnic. So pack something tasty to eat and linger for a while at Sheep Meadow, located between West 66th and West 69th Street.

  4. 04

    Central Park Walking Tour: One of my favorite things to do in Central Park in summer

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    With about 333 hectares of meadows, paths, fountains, statues, ponds, gardens, theatres and even a zoo, Central Park can rightly be called an oasis of New York. Due to the variety and size of the park, however, many visitors find it difficult to find out the highlights. A walk through Central Park is just the right thing here!

  5. 05

    Cantor Rooftop at The Met

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    The Cantor Rooftop Garden Bar is not only a great spot to round off a visit to the world-famous The Metropolitan Museum of Art – “The Met” for short. From April to October you can enjoy art, coffee, light snacks, cocktails and a clear view over Central Park, Midtown and the Upper East Side. The relaxed and informal atmosphere is especially pleasant here – also a nice & quiet place for families with children.

    My tip: check out my article about the best rooftops in New York right now!

  6. 06

    Discover Central Park by bike

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    There are numerous ways to go sightseeing in NYC. One great way is by biking. You get can really familiarize yourself with many districts and streets that you might not discover on foot or by a bus tour. If you just want to discover New York by bike for a few hours, the classic bike rental is the cheapest option.

  7. 07

    My highlight in summertime Central Park: the Summer Stage Festival!

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    At this event you can visit over 100 concerts & shows for free in many parks all over New York. It’s one of the most popular summer events in New York and a MUST DO for locals. If you’re in New York this summer, be sure to check out one of the shows!

    My tip: check out my article about the best summer concerts and festivals this summer.

  8. 08

    Shakespeare in the Park

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    A really great summer tradition is Shakespeare in the Park. The free event features classic plays by William Shakespeare every summer at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Outdoors, the play is really a great experience. The Delacorte Theater is located pretty much in the middle of Central Park next to Turtle Pond.

  9. 09

    Free Concerts in the Park

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    One of the most impressive events in New York is the Free Concerts in the Park. Stars such as James Taylor, Elton John, Simon & Garfunkel, Diana Ross and Bruce Springsteen have already sung here in front of more than 100,000 people. The free concerts in the city’s parks have a long tradition and guarantee pure goosebumps.

    At the New York Philharmonic’s Free Concerts in the Parks this summer, you can experience how classical music can also create this effect. The free concerts take place in various parks in New York, but we still find the atmosphere in Central Park the most impressive. How often do you get to experience world-famous classical music under the stars in the middle of New York?

    My tip: don’t forget reading my article about the 27 best fun things to do in New York in the summer.

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    How to get the best seats

    The Great Lawn’s northern entrances at the Arthur Ross Pinetum and basketball courts will be closed for the concerts. Therefore, take the paths to the south, east or west of the lawn. To secure good seats, it’s best to come in the afternoon and make yourself comfortable in front of the stage like the New Yorkers with a picnic until evening.

  11. 10

    Harlem Meer Music Festival: A Free Summer Festival in NYC

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    Every Sunday during the summer months of July and August, the Harlem Meer Performance Festival is held. It is a free event held at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (elevation 110th Street and 5th Avenue). The Harlem Meer Performance Festival was founded in 1993 to celebrate the restoration of the Harlem Meer and the surrounding 225 acres above 96th Street.

    This year, you can experience the Harlem Meer Performance Festival from July 17 to August 21, 2022.

  12. 11

    Skating through Central Park on inline skates

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    The most popular skating track in Central Park is Park Drive. Skating this loop during the summer is really fun, especially in the early evening when the temperatures are not so high anymore. The approximately 10 km long circular route leads through partly hilly landscapes and is a challenge even for experienced skaters. Be sure to wear a helmet when you ride here! 

  13. 12

    Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir

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    There is probably no better place to jog in New York City than Central Park, home to many great running routes. The big loop is about 10 km long and very challenging because of the many hills. The best place to start is at East 90th Street (East Drive) heading north. On your way, you will pass the Lasker Rink. Continue along the north end of the park to W 102nd Street, then head south on West Drive to 72nd Street.

    The loop around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir is also very nice. The jogging route, which is about 2.5 km long, goes around the large reservoir and was Jacqueline Kennedy’s favorite jogging route. The route is so popular that you are only allowed to run in one direction.

    For a better overview, there is also a map with all jogging routes in Central Park.

  14. 13

    Belvedere Castle im Central Park

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    The Belvedere Castle was built in 1869 and was designed by Calvert Vaux who is best known for also designing NYC’s Central Park. There was no real purpose to the castle other than being a decorative piece within the park, however it is very beautiful definitely worth a visit.

  15. 14

    Central Park Conservancy Film Festival (2023 tba)

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    Every summer, the Central Park Conservancy hosts a week of evening film screenings in Central Park. Famous film classics are shown, which are often set in New York. All you need is a blanket to sit on and a small picnic or popcorn, of course. The screening starts at 8pm, but it’s best to arrive around 6:30pm to find good seats. There is often a live DJ playing music before the movies.

    The Film Festival is held at the north end of Sheep Meadow. It’s best to take the park entrance off West 72nd Street.

  16. 15

    Go Swimming in the Lasker Pool (from 2024)

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    UPDATE: The Lasker Pool is being renovated and will be open again in 2024.

    The famous skating rink Lasker Rink turns into the Lasker Pool during the summer. This means that there’s an outdoor pool located right in Central Park, and it’s free to enter, too! However, some safety instructions must be observed here: bags are not allowed and you can only bring a towel, water, shoes, and a book. Valuables can be locked in lockers, but you have to bring your own lock.

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About the author

I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 25 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On my blog I show you the best and most beautiful spots of the city, so that you have a really good time! You can also find lots of insider tips in our New York travel guide. Also check out my hotel finder for New York!

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