A Guide to Summering Safely in Central Park
Central Park provides New Yorkers a welcome escape from the intensity of NYC summers, but Park-goers should still take necessary precautions to stay cool, healthy, and hydrated during their visits.
As much as the Park needs all of us to care for it, we need our visitors to stay healthy by caring for themselves and each other, too. By following these tips, you can keep yourself, your fellow Park patrons, and Park wildlife safe this summer.
Water fountains are stationed throughout Central Park, ready to quench your thirst on a hot summer day. Next time you visit, bring your own reusable bottle to fill up and cool off—a great way to stay hydrated while preventing plastic waste and pollution.
Is the water safe to drink? Absolutely. The Department of Environmental Protection conducts over 600,000 tests of New York City's water each year to make sure it meets (or exceeds) all state and federal health standards. You’ll see blue stickers on the drinking fountains that let you know the water has been tested and approved. Our Conservancy staff also regularly power washes these fountains.
Don’t get ticked off
Ticks are found around the world in hot, humid climates, which means they can also be found in Central Park, especially during the summer. As you enjoy exploring the Park’s woodlands—areas like the North Woods, the Hallett Nature Sanctuary, and the Ramble—take extra precaution by wearing light, long-sleeved shirts and pants, using insect repellent, and avoiding extensive time spent under dense foliage. Once you return home, check for ticks and remove any that you see. Got a fever or rash after a tick bite? Call your doctor and be sure to visit the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene's website for more resources.
Enjoy flower blooms, not algal blooms
Harmful algal blooms—that murky layer of algae that looks like pea soup—are found throughout Central Park’s water bodies during the hot summer months. These are a common occurrence at the Lake, the Pool, and the Pond, but as their name suggests, they are indeed harmful. As always, Park visitors should never enter the Park’s water bodies or come into contact with the water. The toxins found in HABs can be harmful to dogs as well, so please follow all dog-walking rules and etiquette, as outlined by NYC Parks. Want to learn more about how the Conservancy handles these growths? Read our article here.
Let the wildlife stay wild
Feeding wildlife, however well-intentioned, can cost animals their lives, as they frequently become sick or injured from eating inappropriate foods. But saving your snacks for yourself also keeps you safe! Offering food to the Park’s furry and feathered residents can cause them to become overly tame and approach humans. Appreciate them from a distance (even raccoons...it’s perfectly normal for a healthy raccoon to be out in the daylight) and remember that NYC’s backyard is their home.
Soak up the shade
Sunbathing is a popular pastime in Central Park, but how about shadebathing for a change? When the weather is especially hot, our visitors can keep cool by relaxing under the canopy of Central Park’s 18,000 trees. This coverage keeps shaded parts of the Park much cooler than their sunlit counterparts—see more about the urban heat island—and can protect visitors from direct sunlight, extreme heat, and exhaustion. Some great places to enjoy the shade are along the borders of the Great Lawn, Sheep Meadow, and by the Harlem Meer.
As always, please follow the advice of health professionals and stay inside on high-heat days. Loose clothing, a reusable water bottle, and lots of sunscreen are always helpful, too. Learn more through NYC Parks.
Make a splash
While the Park’s water bodies are off-limits for swimming, there are plenty of fountains and splash pads that offer the perfect way to cool off. Explore this list of our 21 playgrounds to learn which have water features designated for use and plan your next trip accordingly. Conservancy staff suggests visiting the Bernard Family Playground, Heckscher Playground, and the Tarr Family Playground to cool off.
Visitors should always wear shoes to protect their feet from hot surfaces and avoid injuries. For further guidance on staying safe while enjoying the Park's playgrounds, check out these tips from NYC Parks.
With 843 acres to care for year-round, the Central Park Conservancy staff sometimes closes off certain areas of the Park for scheduled or storm-related maintenance. When you see fenced-off areas—like along Literary Walk—or cones, please keep out of the designated space in order to stay safe. Planning ahead? You can check the Conservancy’s alerts page to learn which playgrounds, lawns, or other areas may be closed that day.
A Guide to Our Guides
Interested in birdwatching? Learn how to respectfully spot the more than 210 bird species that make an appearance in Central Park.
Running GuideRunners new and seasoned alike enjoy a variety of loops and trails in Central Park.
Central Park is home to lawns, benches, and picnic tables across its 843 acres, providing countless great picnic spots.