With the warm weather, lush green lawns, and bustling atmosphere of summer—not to mention the news that Central Park’s drives will be going car-free beginning June 27—it’s the perfect time to be active in the Park! Want to get moving in New York City’s backyard? We’ve got you covered with these 10 ideas.
1. Go boating on the Lake. Renting a row boat on Central Park’s second largest water body is a great way to spend a lazy afternoon in the Park. Boats can be rented at the Loeb Boathouse daily from April through October, weather permitting. Prefer if someone else does the work? Venetian gondola tours are also available. Visit the Loeb Boathouse website for more details.
2. Take a dip at Lasker Pool. Operated by NYC Parks, Lasker Pool is an Olympic-sized pool that is open daily during the summer (this year’s season runs from June 27 to September 9). Free sunscreen is also available. To secure your belongings, please bring a combination lock. Visit the NYC Parks website for more details.
3. Go for a run or a walk. Central Park offers a variety of loops and trails. There’s the world-famous Reservoir running track which offers some of the best views of New York City. There’s the loop—totaling just over 6 miles—and the bridle path, which offers a soft, dirt surface throughout the Park. Before hitting the pavement, be sure to download our official running map or view our blog post on running in the Park.
4. Play tennis. The Central Park Tennis Center offers 30 courts and is open from April to November. Private and semi-private lessons are available. Keep an eye out for celebrities—Roger Federer dropped by last year to much fanfare.
5. Organize softball or baseball games. Central Park is home to 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). Don’t forget: use of any athletic field requires a permit from NYC Parks.
6. Go lawn bowling or play croquet. Two fields northwest of Sheep Meadow are used for lawn bowling and croquet—contact the Permit Office of the Parks Department for more information.
7. Play volleyball. Pickup volleyball games can be played year-round, and courts are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There are two asphalt courts and two sand courts just east of Sheep Meadow, and two additional asphalt courts northeast of the Great Lawn. Don't forget to bring your own ball! For play on asphalt courts, you'll also need to bring your own net. Permits are required only for tournaments and special events.
8. Explore the Park by bike. There are many routes for bicyclists (see our official bicycling map) and you can rent bikes through BikeRent NYC, which operates at two locations on a seasonal basis. Rentals are on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit our bicycling page for more details.
9. Play basketball or handball. Basketball and handball courts are available at the North Meadow Recreation Center, with additional basketball courts northeast of the Great Lawn. Basketballs and handballs are free to borrow at the Recreation Center. No permit is required, and courts are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Want to enhance your skills? We also host a Youth Basketball Clinic and Youth Basketball Tournaments each year.
10. Create your own adventure with a field day kit. You can borrow a kit with a wiffle ball and bat, footballs, a soccer ball, a Frisbee, jump ropes, cones, and a playground ball for free at the North Meadow Recreation Center—then just find some open space at the North Meadow or the nearby East Meadow to play.
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