If you are planning to tour New York City’s most iconic destinations, one location you cannot leave off your list is Central Park. Comprising 843 acres, this sprawling urban park offers numerous diversions. In fact, even a resident of New York City who has lived in the Big Apple for years can still have brand-new experiences while visiting the park.
If you are in NYC on vacation, however, you probably only have a few hours in which to explore Central Park for yourself. During that time, you want to see and do as much as possible. What is the best way to experience the most that Central Park has to offer in a short time? Let’s take a look at a few of your options.
6. Horse and Carriage Ride
The most romantic way to see Central Park is undoubtedly a horse and carriage ride. This is a great option if you are traveling on your own, but an even better one if you are on a trip with someone special. A surprise carriage ride is sure to impress any date. Carriage rides are also a good choice for families, as children are sure to love the chance to get up close and personal with the horses.
The biggest drawback of going with a horse and carriage is probably the expense. On average, this is the priciest way to see the park, which may limit the amount of time that you can spend on the tour.
5. Central Park Bike Tours
Another option is a Central Park bike tour. This is where you rent a bike and go out for an hour or two (or more) with a group and a guide. There are couple of advantages to this type of tour. The first is that you save money; Central Park bike tours are usually quite affordable compared to carriage rides. The second benefit is that riding a bike in Central Park is a fun activity, and a great way to immerse yourself fully in your surroundings.
Because you are with a group, you do get the chance to meet new people. For some tourists, this may be yet another advantage. But if what you are looking for is a private tour, a horse and carriage or pedicab tour is a much better choice.
4. Central Park Bike Rental
Another thing you can do is simply rent a bicycle and go out on your own. This saves you even more money than a bike tour, but it does mean that you will need to guide yourself. You may not learn as much about Central Park landmarks as you would if you had an experienced guide, and there will be no one you can ask for personalized suggestions.
The upshot is that you get more privacy and tranquility than you would if you were touring Central Park with a large group. You also can explore at your leisure, choosing a route that caters entirely to your interests.
3. Central Park Walking Tours
You can save even more money touring Central Park on foot. Just as there are group bicycle tours, there are also group walking tours. Once again, you set out with a guide to explore Central Park’s sights and activities.
Of course, there are two significant drawbacks with walking tours. For one thing, walking is a lot slower than riding a bicycle or going with a carriage or pedicab. That means you probably will not get to see as much before you run out of time.
Secondly, walking is enjoyable, but it also can be tiring. After a couple of hours on foot, you may be quite fatigued. This can be especially problematic if you have small children with you. This can cut short your time, and can add unnecessary stress to your trip.
2. Self-Guided Tour
If you like the idea of wandering Central Park on foot, but you prefer to set your own pace, an alternative is a self-guided walking tour. This is the most cost effective way to see the park, since there is no expense at all. You simply need to do some research, plan your route, and print or pick up a map. You can even find pre-prepared routes online.
While the self-guided walking tour allows you to choose your pace, you do lose the advantage of a guide who can answer questions and point you toward fun activities. Touring by yourself on foot also maximizes your chances of getting lost. So while you can have some exciting adventures, you might have a few misadventures as well.
1. Central Park Pedicab Tours
If you are looking for a way to tour Central Park which combines the best features of the options above, you might consider a pedicab tour. This type of tour provides you with a personal guide who can offer you tidbits and suggestions and teach you about the park’s history.
A pedicab tour is less expensive than a horse and carriage, but provides you with the same convenience. It also offers you more privacy and flexibility than a bicycle or walking tour. That means you can save money while seeing more of the park’s sights without the noise and distraction of a large group.