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10 Essential Central Park Photo Spots

Updated: April 7, 2024

Central Park is a New York City icon. This world-famous green space welcomes over 40 million visitors each year.

If you are interested in photography, head to Central Park, widely regarded as one of the most photogenic spots in NYC, especially for nature lovers.

This post includes the best Central Park photo spots organized into a self-guided walking tour to include on your New York City itinerary

Central Park’s 843 acres of natural beauty provide an escape from New York City's urban landscape of skyscrapers, skylines, and bridges.

If you want to make the most of a specific amount of time, you can join one of our pay-what-you-like walking tours. We offer:

  • 2-hour tour of the Lower Section of Central Park
  • 2-hour tour of the Middle Section of Central Park

Map of Central Park Photo Locations

If you click on the map, it will open up in Google Maps and can be downloaded to your phone.

1. Gapstow Bridge

Gapstow Bridge is one of the most photographed bridges of the many famous bridges in the world. 

gapstow bridge

The natural beauty of the bridge itself surrounded by foliage that is spectacular year-round makes it one of the best Central Park photo shoot locations.

2. Wollman Rink

Located in the southeast corner of the park, this ice skating rink is an iconic sight in Central Park.

It is so picturesque that the rink appears in various movies including the romantic comedy Serendipity.

Wollman Rink at Night

The backdrop of the rink is the city skyline of Millionaire’s Row, making photographs of Wollman Rink spectacular, especially at night.

If you feel like going ice skating there, read more about ice skating in New York City.

3. The Mall

The Mall and Literary Walk is a perfectly straight tunnel-like walkway flanked by benches, statues, and thick-set American Elm trees.

The Mall Central Park

This 40-foot wide and quarter-mile-long grand promenade is the equivalent of six city blocks, though it certainly makes for a prettier stroll!

The Mall has appeared in many movies, including Kramer vs. Kramer, Big Daddy, and Maid in Manhattan

4. Bethesda Terrace and Fountain 

Descend the stone staircases at the end of The Mall and walk underneath a triple-arched entranceway into the stunning Bethesda Terrace Arcade.

An orange glow illuminates the arcade lined with majestic columns and a spectacular tile ceiling comprising 15,876 individual encaustic tiles.

These tiles originate from the mid-1860s and the Arcade is the only known example of a Minton tile suspended ceiling, making this a very rare and very photogenic locale.

When you exit the arcade onto Bethesda Terrace, pause inside the central arch to photograph Bethesda Fountain.

It's a lovely spot for a photo shoot, which is why you will find lots of professional photographers. 

Dozens of films and TV shows have featured scenes on the terrace and near the fountain. Woody Allen has filmed scenes from several movies here, including Annie Hall. 

Other well-known movies shot here include the classic Christmas movies Home Alone 2 and Elf, John Wick and One Fine Day.

Television series like Sex and the City and Law and Order have episodes with scenes here.

5. Bow Bridge

Leave Bethesda Fountain from the northwest and walk for two minutes until you reach the elegant Bow Bridge.

You have two great spots to take pictures. On the south side, you can frame a view of the Lake and Bow Bridge against a backdrop of trees.

On the north side, you can use the upper Manhattan skyline as a background.

Expect to share this popular photography spot with dozens of others lining the banks of The Lake.

Bow Bridge appears in a whole host of movies and tv shows, including Spiderman 3, Night at the Museum, Glee, and Doctor Who. 

It's also one of the best places in the entire city for engagement portraits and wedding photos.

6. Wagner Cove 

Stick to the south side of Bow Bridge and head west along The Lake until you reach Wagner Cove and its quaint wooden rustic shelter with two benches.

Wagner Cove is a desirable wedding spot for locals, but it is less known among tourists which makes it a Central Park hidden gem.

Better still, there’s a wonderful view overlooking Wagner Cove from the Daniel Webster statue farther along The Lake.

7. Strawberry Fields

Just a two-minute walk to the northwest from the Wagner Cove viewpoint is Strawberry Fields named after The Beatles’ song and in honor of John Lennon, who lived just outside the park in the Dakota Building.

Look for the John Lennon memorial, a black and white tiled mosaic with the word IMAGINE.

Here’s a tip on how to get the best photograph of the memorial plaque:

Mount your camera on a tripod with a lens you can adjust the focal length.

Set a long shutter speed of one to two seconds and slowly zoom out as the frame is exposed.

Now the word “Imagine” and its surrounding pattern appear as though you’re looking through a kaleidoscope. 

8. The Ramble

From the Imagine plaque, head north on the path that runs parallel to the Bridle Path where you might spot some horse-drawn carriages!

Walk about seven minutes until you reach Oak Bridge. Cross the bridge and enter one of the most beloved areas in Central Park called The Ramble.

The Ramble

This area is a labyrinth of narrow twisting paths and ornate stone arches, all of which are incredibly photogenic. There are even a few small manmade waterfalls!

Its woodsy environment makes the Ramble an excellent spot to look for wildlife to photograph.

You can also leave The Ramble and head northeast to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the best museums in the world!

9. Belvedere Castle

Belvedere is Italian for “beautiful view” and the castle's name is very apt! Belvedere Castle is like something out of a fairy tale. 

belvedere castle

The castle itself is a gorgeous subject for a photograph, but it also offers expansive views of the park.

Turtle Pond and the Great Lawn, the heart of Central Park, are to the north, the Ramble is to the south, and the city skyline surrounds it.

10. Conservatory Garden

This charming garden located just next to the Upper East Side opened in 1937. 

It is split into three sections with different styles: the English South Garden, the French North Garden, and the Italianate Center Garden.

conservatory garden in central park

There are three fountains on the grounds as well as a wide variety of flowers, including summer perennials, tulips, lilacs, chrysanthemums, and more. 

This delightful locale in Central Park is a popular spot for engagement parties and small weddings.

Best Time of Year for Taking Photos in Central Park

A perfect Central Park photo shoot can take place any time of year.

You’ll find Spring blooms and pretty pink cherry blossoms in April and May. In the warmer months, emerald green grass covers the Sheep Meadow.

Self-guided Central Park Tour

There are radiant orange, yellow and red leaves in Autumn and white snow-capped trees in the winter months.

As for the time of day, early in the morning is best.

You'll have an easier time getting the shot you want without dealing with crowds of people trying to capture the same photograph as you.

Are you interested in seeing more iconic photo spots from across New York?

Where Are Those Morgans’ popular guide to the best photography locations in NYC covers every famous landmark, neighborhood, and a hidden gem in the city. 

Written by Mark and Kristen from Where Are Those Morgans

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