Central Park Tours

This post lists and compares the best Central Park tours, including walking, bike as well as horse and carriage tours.  

We at Free Tours by Foot offer two main Central Park walking tours. We also offer an anytime, GPS-led audio tour.

We recommend taking a look at our full calendar to see which tours are running when you will be in NYC.

 

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NOTE: If you find that you can’t make our scheduled tours, then please note that the New York Pass and the Explorer Pass include several Central Park tour options.  

Read our post on which tourist pass to buy


Podcast Episode: Listen to tour guides Lori and Katherine discuss Central Park on an episode of our NYC Travel Tips podcast.

 
This podcast offers bite-sized audio clips with tips on how to plan your trip to NYC. You can get our podcasts on Apple, Google, or wherever you get your podcasts.


FREE TOURS BY FOOT

We offer several pay-what-you-like walking tours of Central Park, one of the lower section and one for the middle section. (We also offer bike tours).  

Our tours have no costs to book and are listed with (pay-what-you-wish) inside of the calendar and are also detailed below the calendar.  

We offer a seasonal and limited schedule of our Central Park walking tours, so we have also listed other for-fee walking tours available to you in the park.  

If you are interested in booking a private tour of Central Park, we have several affordable options available to you.

 

 


FREE TOURS BY FOOT (Lower Section)

Once described as the lungs of the city, Central Park brings a breath of fresh air to New York’s crowded urban terrain.

What started out as the rocky and desolate northern fringes of a rapidly expanding city is today among the world’s most famous and beloved public parks.

With over 843 acres (400 hectares) of meadows, hills, ball fields and bodies of water, it’s impossible not to find something to enjoy in Central Park.

Here’s a sample from our GPS-led audio tour.

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Central Park Tours

 

Join Free Tours by Foot as we stroll through the park and tell the epic story of New York’s green oasis.

This Central Park tour explores the southern half of the park, wandering the winding pedestrian paths, passing a pond, rocky outcrops, bridges, open fields and skyline views — all great photo opportunities.

The tour also includes a stop in Strawberry Fields, a living tribute to John Lennon, and will end in front of the Dakota Hotel, where the great Beatles’ life was tragically ended.  

Sites we cover on the Central Park Walking Tours:

 

Tour information for Central Park Lower Section

Reservations: REQUIRED. Click here to reserve. Groups of 6 or more should visit our groups’ page.

Where: Tour begins from the southwest corner of 59th St. and 5th Ave by the Pulitzer Fountain (Pomona – Roman goddess of purity) (map).  The statue is located directly in front of the Plaza Hotel’s main entrance.   Tour ends at 72nd St. and Central Park West.

Duration: Approximately 2 hours. Approximately 1 mile in length.

When: @9:45am Wed, @2pm Sat & Sun (mid-March through Dec), Spring), @9:45am Fri (Spring & Fall). All-in-One Central Park tour @10am Fridays (May-Oct).  More tours available in the high-season. Take this any day as an audio tour. Tours go out rain or shine. Dress appropriate for the weather.

If you can’t make one of our tours, you might consider one of the New York tourist passes, which include free guided tours of Central Park or through Viator.

Cost: This tour is free to take, and you get to decide what, if anything, the tour was worth when it’s done.  A name-your-own-price tour is a tour for anyone’s budget.

 


Central Park Middle Section

This tour focuses on the middle of Central Park, starting in front of the beautiful American Museum of Natural History.

From there we will enter the park and explore, seeing everything from a castle to the wild-looking Ramble.  

See an Ancient Egyptian obelisk and the place where Stuart Little raced his sailboat in the E.B. White children’s classic.

Don’t forget to bring along your camera!  There will be many wonderful photo opportunities throughout.

Listen to a sample of this tour from our GPS-led audio tour

Sites We Cover on Our Middle Central Park Tours:

  • Central Park Walking toursAmerican Museum of Natural History
  • The Swedish Cottage
  • Shakespeare Garden
  • Belvedere Castle
  • Turtle Pond
  • The Delacorte Theatre (Shakespeare in the Park)
  • The Great Lawn
  • Cleopatra’s Needle
  • The Ramble
  • The Lake
  • The Conservatory Waters
  • Bethesda Terrace
  • And more!!

 

Tour information for Central Park (Middle Section)

Reservations: REQUIRED. Click here to reserve. Groups of 6 or more should visit our group’s page.

Where: Tour departs from the park entrance directly across the street from the American Museum of Natural History at the intersection of Central Park West, between 80th and 81st Streets (map). 

Tour ends at Bethesda Terrace, on the 72nd Street Traverse through Central Park.

Duration: Approximately 2 hours. Approximately 1 mile in length.

When: Currently running as a private tour only. Take this any time, any day as a GPS-led audio tour – sample.

Cost: This tour is free to take, and you get to decide what, if anything, the tour was worth when it’s done.

A name-your-own-price tour is a tour for anyone’s budget.

 


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OTHER WALKING TOUR OPTIONS

There are many companies offering walking tours of Central Park. However, many offer a limited schedule or only private tours.  

We have listed two additional highly rated companies that also offer regularly scheduled public tours, and we have ordered them by the lowest price per person.  

Most of these tours are included at no additional cost on one or more of the tourist discount passes available to you in NYC.  Click the link to read our comparison post on these passes.

We have listed which pass(es) each tour is included in the tour descriptions below. 

Disclosure: We think you should consider our free tours, but we have also provided other options. While our recommendations are always unbiased, we may receive a small share of sales through some of the links below at no cost to you. See the full text.

Central Park Sightseeing

Central Park Sightseeing has an abundance of Central Park choices, whether by foot, bike, horse, or pedicab. Their walking tour explores the history and landscape of Central Park while addressing the many filming locations of popular Hollywood productions.

Or explore more of Central Park by bike. Their bike tours are child-friendly, price includes the bike rental and helmet, with bikes rentals for all ages.

If you want a more relaxing view of the park, you may want to consider their pedicab or horse and carriage options.

They also offer our readers a 20% on all of their tours with promo code FTBF.  See their full selection of Central Park tours here.  

Get 20% off the prices below with promo code FTBF.

Central Park Walking

Their walking tour (as with all of their tours) are included for free with the New York Pass and the Explorer Pass discount cards.

Reviews of Central Park Sightseeing

Central Park Sightseeing has a solid 4 out of 5 stars rating with almost 2,000 reviews.

Even though the company website states tours cap at 25 people per group, a significant number of reviewers speak about much smaller group sizes.

Even if only one person purchases the tour, the company does not cancel for low attendance (which is a big plus!).

Reviewers say the walking pace of the tour is enjoyable, not too fast and not too slow. Late afternoon attendees suggest taking the 9 am tour, before the day gets too hot or there are too many people in the park.

Reviewers find the tour guides knowledgeable, entertaining and accommodating.

If English is your second language, you will want to inform Central Park Sightseeing so you can be matched with the best tour guide suited for you.


Central Park TV and Movie Sites

On Location Tours has a more narrowly focused itinerary. Although you will get Central Park history, this tour is for those with an interest in film.

The tours are led by actors and actresses, which adds to its authenticity.

Thousands of television shows and movies have been filmed in Central Park, so with a 2 hour themed tour, you will get your money’s worth.

Some of the many filming locations covered are Home Alone 2, When Harry Met Sally, Taxi, Elf, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Serendipity, Crocodile Dundee, The Producers, just to name a few.  

On Location Tours offers a full range of movie and television tours of NYC.  

  • Cost: Adult $25, Child $17
    • (get $2 off each ticket when you book through the link below)
  • Daily @ 12 pm (March-December) Check for availability and additional tours.
  • Duration: Approximately 2 hours
  • Learn more and purchase tickets here.

TV and Movie Tour Package: If you purchase their 3.5 hour New York and Movie Sites tour, you can add Central Park TV and Movie Sites for only an additional $12. Tours are taken on separate days. Learn more about their combo option here.

Reviews:

On Location Tours has a strong 4 out of 5 stars rating on TripAdvisor with over 2,000 reviews.

Reviewers find their tour guides very informative and enthusiastic, and the fact that they are actors themselves is seen as an advantage.

Reviewers feel that even if you are not a movie buff but you are traveling with one, there is enough trivia that everyone in your group will recognize some pop culture, along with enough history about the park itself to make it enjoyable for all.

 


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About the author

Born and raised just across the Hudson River in NJ, Stephen became a licensed NYC tour guide in 2010 and has led and organized thousands of tours since then.

He has researched and written dozens of articles with insider NYC tips, and created a podcast, titled "NYC Travel Tips & Hacks".