Our last afternoon in New York came by all too quickly. We decided to spend it in the green heart of the city – Central Park. This oasis of green in a wall of buildings, smack bang in the middle of Manhattan is a chance to escape from the insanity. Water, wooded paths and lawns, I had been before in summer time and remember joggers, skaters, musicians and lots of tourists. A bit different on a snowy Friday but no less impressive. We loved our stroll through the park – cold yes, but a proper winter wonderland.
This was the first public park built in America and all the more impressive since it is surrounded by huge buildings. Designated a people’s park where everyone could come and enjoy it, now it attracts 15 million visitors every year and is ideal for people watching.
Our visit began with the quintessential Central Park experience – a horse drawn carriage ride. It had just started to snow when we climbed on board – this made an already fun experience a bit more magical. Not intentionally we chose a carriage with a roof – luck was on our side since this, together with the green, woolly blanket the driver threw over our laps, kept us snug, warm and dry. The ride lasted about 20 minutes, Son was super impressed, it was a wonderful and relaxing way to see the park. Our driver, of Irish origin, was pleasant, chatty and friendly. We lingered for a while at Artists Gate afterwards watching the horses drink from the stone troughs.
Riding through the park was one thing but exploring on foot was also part of the plan. A gentle stroll along lovely paths and we found the Wollman Ice Skating Rink. Content to just watch – our skating skills are not up to much – the setting is gorgeous, between the trees with the tall buildings behind.
The carousel was a lucky find – needless to say Son was keen to ride, so we did. It has been in the park since 1871 and is open daily between April and December. There are 58 beautiful hand-carved horses but no-one else was riding. It soon became apparent why we had it all to ourselves. Icy cold already, whizzing around froze our faces and fingers. Incredibly uncomfortable, I think this is an experience better suited to warmer times.
Playground time was next on the agenda – we found a great one at the Heckscher Playground. No end of swings, slides, climbing structures and a big sand pit. A stroll around Conservatory Water next with statues from children’s literature – Alice in Wonderland was our favourite.
My regret was we didn’t make it to Strawberry Fields. Icy temperatures had gotten the better of us and we decided a warm cafe and thawing out time was essential. We were well wrapped up with multiple layers and heavy duty thermals and felt positively toasty elsewhere in Manhattan. The temperatures in Central Park seemed to take a dip – this combined with wind chill meant it was bracing to say the least.
Despite the icy temperatures it was a wonderful way to spend our last afternoon in a wonderful city. New York we loved you and can’t wait to return.