A new year is just around the corner—and if you’re eager to take on an enjoyable resolution that you can easily accomplish, we’re here to help! Here are 10 ways to combine a desire for a new you in the new year with the joy of spending time in Central Park.
1. Hit the pavement
Vowing to exercise more is a classic New Year’s resolution. But if you’re worried about following through, just think of all the beautiful Central Park landscapes you’ll admire during a race that travels through the Park. New York Road Runners hosts a plethora of them each year: for starters, there’s January’s NYRR Fred Lebow Half Marathon as well as April’s SHAPE + Health Women's Half-Marathon. And of course, the TCS New York City Marathon, with its finish line in the Park. If you’d rather run on your own, be sure to download our official running map and explore the Park’s 58 miles of pedestrian paths.
2. Brighten a local shelter dog’s day
If you’re looking to adopt a dog in need (or just want to treat one to a fun day out!) the BoroughBreak program through the Animal Care Centers of NYC is for you. And what better locale for an urban adventure than Central Park? With the Animal Care Centers of NYC just a 20-minute walk from the Harlem Meer, it’ll be easy to enjoy some cherished time in the Park while also making a new furry friend’s day. If you prefer to make friends with a pup already in the Park, make note of daily off-leash hours (6:00 am–9:00 am and 9:00 pm–1:00 am).
3. Get in touch with nature
Popular in Japan, forest bathing is the act of “simply being in nature, connecting with it through our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch.” There’s nothing more rejuvenating than taking time out to immerse yourself in our natural environment—and the Hallett Nature Sanctuary, the Ramble, and the North Woods are absolutely perfect for doing just that. It’s an especially rewarding activity when you’re in the middle of the city that never sleeps.
4. Step away from your desk for lunch
Central Park is home to more than 10,000 benches—why not spend your lunch break once a week in the middle of nature? We suggest finding a sunny spot alongside one of the Park’s water bodies for some delightful aquatic birdwatching. The Harlem Meer, the Pool, and the Pond are surrounded by lots of benches and are quick to get to from the Park’s perimeter.
5. Learn a new skill
With 843 acres and a variety of landscapes and attractions, Central Park is the perfect spot to learn something new. Get our tips on spotting the Park’s winged wildlife, or review our ideas on when, where, and how to get the best snapshots in the Park. We also offer Youth Basketball Clinics for Park-lovers from ages 5 to 14 who want to enhance their basketball skills. And of course, you can brush up on your history of the Park anytime on an Official Central Park Tour.
6. Catch up on your reading list
You’re eligible for a free New York Public Library card if you live, work, attend school, or pay property taxes in New York State. Several NYPL branches surround the Park—drop by one and head to the Park to enjoy a book. (You never know what other book-lovers you’ll run into.) Better yet, start a book club that meets in the Park in the warmer months!
7. Spend more time with family
If you’re looking for a unique, educational way to spend time with your family, our Discovery Walks for Families are a perfect fit. They’re conveniently scheduled on weekends and select school holidays, and, best of all, they’re free! These guided walks rely on hands-on exploration to teach you more about the architecture, landscapes, and ecosystems of the Park. For more fun, get our playground map and discover the Park’s 21 unique play spaces.
8. Explore the Central Park spots on your to-do list
Have you been meaning to check out the Blockhouse, the Park’s oldest building? Want to learn a little more about the former site of Seneca Village? Desiring a closer look at Calvert Vaux’s amazingly constructed Huddlestone Arch? Do it all! Resolve to visit all those unusual places in the Park that you just haven’t made it to… yet. Browse our collection of Park features to get some ideas.
9. Give back to the City’s backyard
Donate your time to help keep Central Park beautiful—the health and history of the Park depends on our volunteers who help us year-round. We offer a variety of ways to get involved, whether you’re interested in devoting just 10 minutes to picking up litter; joining your family, fellow teens, or school group for a few hours of work; or committing to a regular schedule in a trained position.
10. Play (or watch) some ballgames
Central Park contains 26 ballfields. Heckscher Ballfields, the Great Lawn, and the North Meadow are home to spring and summer softball games (the North Meadow is the only one also open to baseball). Use ZogSports to find some new friends and teammates. Prefer to stay on the sidelines? You can watch Broadway cast, crew, and other theater employees compete each summer in the Broadway Show League at Heckscher Ballfields.
If you complete a resolution in Central Park, don’t be modest! Let us know by sharing on social media and tagging @CentralParkNYC.
Things to See and Do
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