Central Park is home to nearly 20,000 trees of different varieties including oak, elm, cherry, maple and a host of others. As fall foliage peaks this week in New York City, the leaves of those trees take on rich and vibrant autumnal colors, making Central Park a must visit leaf-peeping destination that you can get to without having to leave New York City. The Central Park Conservancy put out an official map that highlights the most colorful spots in the park. Including suggestions from the the map, and with the addition of some of our favorites, from north to south, here are the top 10 places to see fall foliage in Central Park:
10. The North Woods
Populated by Black Cherry, Pin, Red and Scarlet Oaks, Red Maple and American Elm trees, The North Woods, which stretches from the west side to mid-park from 101st to 110th Street, will be full of shades of red when the leaves turn. The American Elm’s leaves will turn yellow, as will some of the leaves on the Black Cherries and Red Oaks, while the maples, and Pin and Scarlet Oak trees will turn shades of red, russet, bronze and brown. The north woods is one of three woodland areas of the Central Park and is where you will find the Glen Span Arch, the Ravine and Loch.
Check out how the foliage is coming along on our brand new walking tour of Jacob Wrey Mould’s Central Park!
9. Conservatory Garden
The six-acres of formals gardens inside the Conservatory Garden are just as bright and colorful in the fall as they are in the spring. During the autumn season the garden’s crabapple allees turn reddish-orange and there is a beautiful chrysanthemum display. The garden’s Stewartia trees take on hues of orange, red, and purple while the Star Magnolias turn yellow and bronze. As an officially designated quiet zone, the conservatory is the perfect place for a quiet retreat on a crisp autumn day.
8. The Pool
The Red Maple, hickory, Tupelo, Bald Cypress, and Sugar Maple trees that line the Pool put on a vibrant display of colors for park-goers. With shades of scarlet, yellow, red and orange, the Pool is a fantastic place to take in the colors of the season. While admiring the foliage you can also spot some of the park’s wildlife including turtles, birds and fish.
7. North Meadow
The expansive North Meadow is 23-acres of lawn, rocky outcrops and hills that stretch from 102nd to 97th street. It is here that visitors will find the park’s seven baseball fields, five softball fields, six seasonal soccer/touch football fields, and beautiful hickory, Sugar Maple and Flowering Dogwood trees. As the season progresses the hickory and maple leaves will turn shades of autumnal oranges, reds, and yellows while the leaves of the Flowering Dogwoods will turn maroon and purple.
6. The Reservoir
The Central Park Reservoir, which was built as a temporary water supply in the 1860s, is one of the best places to see fall foliage. The Kwanzan Cherry trees that line the west side and Yoshin Cherry trees that line the east side will turn bright red, bronze and yellow, providing a lovely sight to see as you run or walk the 1.58-mile track that loops around the water. The Reservoir is forty feet deep and nearly spans the entire width of the park from 85th Street to 96th Street.
5. The Ramble
The Ramble is 36-acres of what Central Park’s landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted called “wild gardens,” stretching from 73rd to 79th Street in the center of the park. This area is dotted with Red Oak, Sweet Gum, Pin Oak, Sassafras, Red Maple, Black Cherry, and Tupelo trees the span the entire autumnal color palette, from red and orange, scarlet and yellow to bronze and purple.
4. The Lake
The fiery colors of Central Park’s trees in the fall enhance the romanticism of the park and there are few spots more romantic than Bow Bridge at the Lake. At twenty acres, the Lake is the largest naturalistic body of water in the park. The reflective nature of the water paired with the colors of the foliage are sure to make for a stunning sight.
3. Bethesda Terrace
At Bethesda Terrace you can see one of New York City’s most iconic fountains set against the best foliage in the city. The Bethesda Fountain, topped by the Angel of Waters – a figure that commemorates the Croton water system that first provided water to the city in the 19th century – was the only statue commissioned for the park.
2. The Mall
The Mall, which runs through the middle of the park from 72nd to 66th street and is the park’s widest pedestrian pathway. This pathway is lined with rows of American Elms, one of the largest remaining arrangements of elms left in the country. In the fall, the leaves of these American Elms turn a glowing yellow. Discounting the Conservatory Garden, the Mall is the only formal feature in the park’s naturalistic design and the only intentional straight line inside the park. The path of the mall leads to the Bethesda Fountain.
1. The Pond
One of the seven bodies of water in Central Park, the Pond can be found near Central Park South between Fifth and
Sixth Avenues. The Black Cherry, Sawtooth Oak, Gray Birch and Tupelo trees that surround the pond provide a colorful backdrop for the fairytale-like, stone Gapstow Bridge and the ducks that swim in the pond.
Next, check out 10 Historic Ruins and Remnants Inside NYC’s Central Park