Top 10 sports to play in Central Park

Central Park is the largest park in the city and equipped with several designated areas perfectly suited for almost any sport you can imagine. Here are ten of the most popular sports and activities to try in Central Park:

  1. Baseball and softball

Central Park has 26 state-of-the-art ball fields located in three main areas of the park, Heckscher Ballfields, Great Lawn, and North Meadow. Though that sounds like a lot, you can barely find one free. For this reason, permits are required for field use which people can apply for with the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation.

  1. Basketball

Basketball is one of the most popular sports worldwide and New York has one of the longest and richest basketball traditions. It is no wonder the sport has taken up residence in Central Park. Whether you are an occasional or a dedicated player, this park offers plenty of opportunities to find the perfect place to play. The best option is probably North Meadow Recreation Center. Another alternative is the Great Lawn which includes basketball courts as well as baseball diamonds.

  1. Bicycling

Central Park is a perfect place to explore on a bicycle. There are breathtaking views, scenic terrain, and you can explore all the attractions at your own pace. There are three long-distance park rides and some shorter distances if you cut through the park in certain areas. 

  1. Boating

You can row all over Central Park Lake with a boat rented from the Loeb Boathouse. It is an activity enjoyed by all ages, and the size of the lake, 20 acres, makes it a great way to escape the crowds for an hour or two. Boats are usually available between April and November from 10am until dusk.

  1. Football

The large, grassy field of North Meadow is the only field where playing football is permitted in Central Park. The sport is mostly played from September to November, and flag football or touch football are the only types allowed. Cleats and tackle football are not permitted. Any small groups can use the space. But larger leagues or groups who want to play at regularly scheduled times need to apply for a ballfield permit through the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation.

  1. Frisbee

The open fields of Central Park are popular places for Frisbee. It is one of the few sports where participants can easily carry all the equipment they need in a purse or backpack. Ideal fields for playing Frisbee include the North Meadow, Great Lawn, and Sheep Meadow. Make sure to be mindful of the other park patrons as well.

  1. Running

Central Park is a runner’s dream. There is a variety of terrain with gorgeous scenery. Because cars are no longer allowed in Central Park, the roads belong to the runners and there are several loops or locations to choose from that are ideal for the sport.

  1. Skating

In-line skating and ice skating are common sports in Central Park. On hot summer days, the park is filled with thousands of in-line rollerblades and skaters. The park has miles of paved parkways—a longer 5-mile loop and a shorter 2.5-mile loop. Then, in winter, there are two main ice rinks in Central Park with skate and locker rentals available.

  1. Soccer

There are two locations where people can play soccer in Central Park—The Great Lawn and the North Meadow. To organize a soccer game you must get a permit from the Arsenal building. On the applications, you must indicate how many players and spectators you expect to attend.

  1. Tennis

There are 30 public tennis courts located at the Central Park Tennis Center. It is located at West 93rd Street close to West Drive. Permits to pay are required for the outdoor courts from April to November and can be found at the Arsenal Building. Advanced reservations can be made online and walk-on play is available when courts are not in use.

Bonus: Yoga

The massive meadows of Central Park are ideal for outdoor yoga. Organized classes often meet at the Great Hill or Turtle Pond. But the Sheep Meadow is also a great option because of the added noise restrictions. Even in a busy place like New York, you can still find your inner peace.

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