Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Central Park (

Need an escape from the city life? Central Park, bordered by 59th Street, 110th Street, Fifth Avenue and Central Park West, is one of the gems of New York City and a great way to reconnect with nature. Seeing things like grass and trees will remind you know what they look like. You might even get a flashback to your childhood and spontaneously start running around in circles and rolling in the grass. Okay, maybe that's just something that happened to me last week, but living in New York can do that to you.
Returning to nature isn't the only attraction Central Park has to offer. Running, biking, yoga, tai chi, dancing-skating, you can do a lot on a nice day in Central Park. Here's a few ideas:

-Ride the Friedsam Memorial Carousel-Mid-park at 63rd Street, (212) 879-0244. $1.50. Open April to October daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (7 on weekends); November and December, 10 a.m. to dusk; January to March, 10 a.m. to dusk, weekends and holidays only.

-Go Fishing-Bait and rods for catch-and-release fishing can be found at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, on the Harlem Meer. 110th Street between Fifth Avenue and Malcolm X Boulevard (Lenox Avenue), (212) 860-1370. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Rods can be picked up until about 2 to 3 p.m., April-October.)

-Go Ice Skating-November through March, half the rink is open for public ice skating at Lasker Rink and Pool. Mid-park between 106th and 108th streets, (917) 492-3856 or (212) 534-7639. Wollman Rink opens for ice skating November through March. East side between 62nd and 63rd streets, (212) 439-6900 (rink admission from $9.50, skates $5) or (212) 982-2229 (amusement park admission from $6.50).

-Play tennis-Central Park Tennis Center (between 93rd and 96th streets off West Drive, (212) 316-0800; $7 for pass, $5 for rackets) and for indoor climbing on the (small) wall at the North Meadow Recreation Center (mid-park at 97th Street, (212) 348-4867; $7).

-Go to the Zoo-Central Park Zoo admission includes a visit to the adjacent Tisch Children's Zoo, an open-air petting area. 64th Street and Fifth Avenue, (212) 439-6500. $8.

-Go boating-Rental boats are available from the Loeb Boathouse, 72nd Street and Park Drive North, (212) 517-2233. Bikes: March 4-Oct. 31, daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m., from $9 an hour. Boats: April 15-Oct. 31, daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m., $10 an hour.

There's plenty of other ways to have a good time in Central Park, so don't limit yourself to the options I just gave you. Don't get me wrong, taking on any of those adventures would be great ways to spend an afternoon, but I left a ton off the list. Go out find your own way to make an escape from the grind of NYC.

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