5. Central Park Preserves

Central Park waterfall

Central Park, perhaps New York’s most famous park, is home to public art, monuments honoring authors, historic figures, and musicians (but no real women!), and plenty of walkways and nature trails. Central Park is home to a number of secrets like Seneca Village, one of the country’s first free African-American villages, a survey bolt from 1811 when the Manhattan grid was first planned, and the ruins of the 1842 Academy of Mount St. Vincent. The park is also home to two of Manhattan’s four Forever Wild preserves: The Ramble and The North Woods.

Steps going into the Ramble Cave

The Ramble is a 36-acre woodland in the middle of the park with winding paths and plenty of natural features. The Ramble is home to The Ramble Cave, created from a natural cave discovered during park construction. The cave was also the site of several crimes and at least one suicide, and it became so dangerous to maintain that it was sealed at both ends. The Ramble was once known as the “Fruited Plain” since it was a very popular spot for gay men to meet during the 1920s. Over 230 bird species have also been spotted here, and other sites in The Ramble include a stream called The Gill, Iphigene’s Walk, and the Stone Arch.

The North Woods in the northwest corner of Central Park is a 40-acre preserve reminiscent of the Adirondacks, far from any skyscrapers. A notable site of the North Woods is the Ravine, a forest retreat with a stream called the Loch that cascades into small waterfalls. The North Woods also features the quaint Huddlestone and Glen Span stone arches, as well as Central Park’s oldest building, the Blockhouse, built during the War of 1812.