Central Park, one of the world’s most renowned parks, stands as a remarkable urban oasis in the heart of Manhattan. As the first public park in the United States, it has nearly 50 fountains, monuments, sculptures, and 36 bridges, making it a prime destination for Central Park photo spots. Its abundant recreational facilities cater to the active, with opportunities for skating, cycling, rowing, basketball, and climbing.
Contact me if you want to schedule your own epic photoshoot in the park, or read through this guide where I’ve compiled all the best Central Park photo spots from an NYC photographer’s perspective.
To get around Central Park it’s important to know how to navigate it. Besides walking, traveling via the subway is the easiest since car congestion is absolutely horrible, and finding parking can be tough. These are all the MTA lines and their stops nearby.
I first became familiar with Central Park from the different runner’s loop where the flow goes from east to west so this blog article will follow the same direction.
Near the N/W/R train’s 59th St. and 5th Ave. stop, you can easily see the iconic Gapstow Bridge in the southeast corner of Central Park. Looking towards the bridge itself is nothing special, but the view from the bridge offers a breathtaking scene of Billionaire’s Row. This is one of the best locations for “bridging” (see what I did there) an escape from the concrete jungle.
Further up past the Gapstow Bridge these two locations give you a sweeping view of all the massive high-rise skyscrapers on Central Park South, also known as Billionaires Row. It doesn’t get too busy, and it’s a great spot to watch the sunset (pictured).
An iconic movie location (I always think of Maid in Manhattan), The Mall in Central Park is the perfect photo spot to utilize the compression technique with a tree tunnel. I always have to take one when I come across a tree tunnel. The best time to take pictures here is in the autumn during fall foliage, but during a winter snowstorm comes in a close second. Check out my video below to learn how to do compression on your camera or phone.
The place where Blair and Chuck from Gossip Girl got married, the Bethesda Terrace Arcade and Fountain is one of the most popular Central Park photo spots. I always see photographers and their clients taking pictures here, and this is the number one location I recommend to clients too because of the beautiful Minton tiles and arches framing them.
I enjoy coming here at night in the summer once the crowds have dispersed because there’s usually a soloist performing just for themselves. The acoustics inside the terrace are legendary! If you head towards the back of the Bethesda Fountain where the Lake is, you can easily include the stairs and parts of the skyline in your pictures.
Due to the fact it’s such a popular location though, expect crowds at all hours unless you go first thing in the morning.
One of my absolute favorite spots in all of New York City is the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. There’s a section in the back of the reservoir where you can capture the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, and Central Park South all in one photo. It’s my favorite spot to bring friends to, especially at sunset, because of how breathtaking the view is as the sun is going behind the horizon.
Unpopular opinion, but I find the Bow Bridge quite lame. It’s on everyone and their mother’s list though as one of the most romantic photo spots in Central Park so I feel obliged to include it. It’s specifically popular for wedding photography because of the light color and the interlocking circle banisters. If bright and airy is your style then be sure to get a shot here!
Did you know there’s an actual castle in New York City sitting in the middle of Central Park? Belvedere Castle is a cool spot to take pictures from, but you can also head over to the Great Lawn in order to have it in your background.
As an NYC cityscape photographer, I’m all about the skyline with color in the sky. Sheep Meadow gives you all that and more. It stretches from the east to the west side and is also a great spot to enjoy a picnic.
Besides the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, Oak Bridge is my next favorite photo location in Central Park. It’s especially gorgeous at sunset where the skyline looks like it’s glowing. Highly recommend taking pictures here at least once during every season.
If you’re looking for a little bit of rustic charm, Wagner Cove is your best bet. It’s tucked away down some stairs near Cherry Hill and is a fan favorite for intimate wedding ceremonies. One of my very first bridal photoshoots was taken at Wagner Cove!
One of the magical things about Central Park are all the pavilions and pagodas throughout. Ladies Pavilion, and the rocks next to it, have the best backdrop of the full Manhattan skyline behind it. It’s another popular spot for romantic gestures like wedding photography and surprise proposals. Funny story, I once stumbled upon the wedding of someone I went to high school with here and pretended I didn’t see their whole ceremony lol.
The hanging lights at Tavern on the Green’s outdoor patio are hands down bokeh heaven. They can be seen from Sheep Meadow, and I did my very first client photoshoot here back in 2019! Their Christmas decorations are also stunning and the entrance walkway is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. I had to photograph a proposal in the patio and highly recommend it if you’re looking for a spot. It’s a total vibe.
Facing Central Park West, the Lake has amazing views of iconic buildings like San Remo and El Dorado.
If you’re a true New Yorker, you know the Conservatory Garden is nicknamed “the Secret Garden” because most transplants and tourists never go this far up. Even then, most people stay in the south part of the park, never passing the line where Bethesda Fountain and Bethesda Terrace are. NEWS FLASH: Central Park is massive and beautiful throughout! I have to admit, it took me years before I started traveling North of Museum Mile. Central Park extends all the way up to 110th St. and some of the best Central Park photo spots sit up here.
Every April when the weather starts to warm up, Central Park is one of the best locations in NYC to see and photograph cherry blossoms. I didn’t realize how many locations I had pictured in my archives, but these are some of the best spots.
Like spring, fall is also one of the best times to walk around Central Park and see the colorful trees turn color.
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