Post Overview: Best photo spots in Central Park
It’s no secret Central Park is one of the most photographed parks in the world. I mean have you been? The park exudes charm and inspiration with every winding path.
There’s no shortage of great photo spots in Central Park, but with the park being over 843 acres big… you might not know where to start.
In this guide we’ll cover the most popular spots to take pictures in Central Park, spots we guarantee you’ve seen in movies and plastered all over social media (as well as some gems).
Whether you’re looking to have a romantic photoshoot with your partner or just want to make your coworker Susan jealous, here are the best photo spots in Central Park!
Central Park Photoshoot Tips
Wake up early
As difficult as it may be to set an alarm, I guarantee it’ll be more difficult to edit crowds out of your pictures. Waking up early to take photos has many perks. The lighting is ideal and you’re more likely to be alone at many popular Central Park photo spots. Giving you ample time (and comfort) to take the perfect shot.
Purchase a Bluetooth tripod
Yes this is a real thing — and a life saver at that! I never leave the house without my Bluetooth tripod. Whether you want a group photo or some solo shots of you prancing around, investing in a tripod with a removable remote makes taking epic shots so much easier. You can always go the route of hiring a photographer but if you’re looking to save some cash, this is a great option.
Find inspiration shots
This might seem like an obvious tip, but it’s one of the best ones I have to offer. Popular photo spots in Central Park gain a lot of attention, so the chances of you finding an inspo shot on Instagram or Pinterest are high. Going into your own shoot prepared saves you some awkwardness knowing where you want to stand or how you want to pose.
Best Central Park Photo Spots
#10. Conservatory Water
The Conservatory Water, which is frequently overlooked by first-time visitors, is one of the best places to take pictures in Central Park, especially in the fall.
Located steps away from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The MET) the water has a steady stream of locals passing through. The healthy trees burst with autumn colors in the fall and make for a dreamy backdrop.
Between the peaceful pond, the colorful trees and relaxing benches you won’t struggle finding a good angle to shoot from at this Central Park photo spot.
P.S. While you’re in the area, check out the Alice in Wonderland sculpture on the north end of the pond.
#9. Belvedere Castle
It might seem difficult to believe that there is a castle right in the heart of Central Park, but it exists and serves as one of the park’s best photo ops.
Completed in 1872, Belvedere Castle sits high atop a hill on a large rock outcropping known as Vista Rock. It happens to be the second-highest point in the park.
The high vantage point and well-kept terraces offer sweeping panoramic views of New York City’s iconic skyline.
Belvedere Castle is one of the most universal photo spots in Central Park since you can take photos from the high vantage or from the ground with the castle as your backdrop. Both spots are equally charming and are sure to leave your friends wondering where the heck you found a castle in New York City!
#8. The Lake (On Row Boats)
Rent a rowboat and have a mini photo-shoot at one of the most romantic photo spots in Central Park, the Lake.
The Lake is a man-made body of water that covers 20-acres and marks the very heart of Central Park. Thankfully there’s plenty of vistas and ample shoreline to take pictures from.
If you want pictures with your partner I suggest hiring a photographer or bringing a friend along to take pictures from the shore or bridges scattered around the Lake.
It’s one of the more unique photo spots in Central Park, but keep in mind it is a seasonal attraction. Boats can be rented from April to November.
There’s 100 boats available for rent at the Loeb Boathouse and at $25 per hour (cash only), they’re actually reasonably priced. Interested? Read more here.
#7. The Ramble Stone Arch & Oak Bridge
Located on the west side between 73rd and 79th street, the Ramble is one of the more quiet spots in Central Park for photos.
The 36-acre woodland area is full of meandering paths, rustic bridges, rock formations and peaceful streams. If you enter from 77th Street (across from the Museum of Natural History) follow the path until you hit the Oak Bridge.
Offering stunning views of the towering buildings, the bridge is one of the best spots in Central Park for photos. Continuing on the path to the right you’ll come across a dock that is another popular spot for taking pictures.
The true highlight of the area is The Ramble Stone Arch — especially on a rainy day. Engulfed by the surrounding plants it’s a great spot to take pictures in Central Park.
#6. Gapstow Bridge
Although not as popular as the Bow Bridge (which we’ll cover in a bit) a list of best photo spots in Central Park without the Gapstow Bridge should be illegal.
The view from the bridge is breathtaking, especially when the area is engrossed in fall color. You’ll see an impressive variety of colorful trees, such as oaks, tupelo trees, cherry trees and birches.
Finding this dreamy Central Park photo spot empty of crowds is near impossible. Plan on starting your photo-shoot here as early as you can.
#5. Wollman Rink
Is there anything more enchanting in New York City than Christmas? The holiday season brings out the best in everyone, even the parks.
Wollman Rink is without a doubt one of the top photo locations in Central Park, especially around the time they first open open for the season (end of October or beginning of November).
The iconic Plaza Hotel looms in the background while the trees hold on to whatever color they have left before calling it for the winter. I dare you to name a dreamier backdrop… I’ll wait.
My tip to you is to avoid the ice rink on weekends if you’re trying to take pictures. The crowds are impossible to avoid, so my suggestion is to visit early during the week if you want to take iconic pictures in Central Park.
#4. Bethesda Terrace & Fountain
I’ve lived in New York City for over a decade and can confidently say I’ve never been to Bethesda Terrace without seeing some form of photo shoot taking place.
Given the abundance of photo backdrops, it’s not difficult to understand why. Bethesda Terrace is remarkable. It’s the park’s only formal architectural setting and it was executed perfectly.
Lined with 16,000 ceiling tiles, the terrace’s arcade creates the ideal acoustic environment and draws in some of the city’s most talented street musicians.
Based on personal experience, this is one of the most popular photo spots in Central Park. It’s always full of people, so arrive early for any chance of having the place to yourself.
Fun fact: Measuring twenty-six feet high and ninety-six feet wide, Bethesda Fountain is one of the largest fountains in New York.
#3. The Mall
The Mall is an iconic American elm-lined promenade that leads directly to Bethesda Fountain. This is the largest plantations of American Elm trees in the world!
The mature trees create an enchanting and lush canopy that offers one of the most charming photo spots in Central Park. No matter the season, The Mall has a way of stealing the show in pictures.
Locals Tip: Try visiting early in the morning or as the sun is setting to catch the street lamps lit up. You’re especially in for a treat if you visit the mall after it rains — so dreamy!
#2. Umpire Rock
A personal favorite (and half of the city’s, evident by the crowds) photo spot in Central Park is the Umpire Rock. Offering (arguably) the best cityscape views, the location can’t be beat.
Located near the southwestern corner of the park, Umpire Rock is 55 feet of every photographers dream. Like children on a playground your finger won’t know how to stop clicking the shutter with the ample photo opportunities.
P.S. Umpire Rock also offers great views of Wollman Rink, you can sit and watch folks skate for hours.
#1. Bow Bridge
Central Park is home to more than 40 bridges, but the most photographed by far is the romantic Bow Bridge.
Built in 1862, the bridge spans 60 feet over the Lake, connecting Cherry Hill and the Ramble. Oh, lest I forget, the views of Manhattan’s skyline from the Bow Bridge are absolutely breathtaking!
As such, this is where you’ll find the highest concentration of folks getting pictures taken. You can’t cross the Bow Bridge during sunset without rubbing elbows with brides or accidentally crashing an engagement photo shoot.
But listen, you know it’s going to be a picture-perfect spot when you see so many photographers in one area, right? There’s a reason the Bow Bridge is often most people’s favorite photo spot in Central Park.
Shakespeare Garden is named after none other than William Shakespeare. The four acre park is akin to a classic English cottage garden — hello photo opportunities.
Need another reason why it’s one of the best photo spots in Central Park? The garden’s curator makes it a point of pride to make the garden different every year. The garden is so picturesque that some folks visit on a daily basis, so the curator tries to change it up from year to year. How sweet is that?
Before you accuse me of steering away from the best photo spots in Central Park I have news for you, the MET is actually IN the park.
So technically paying a visit to the MET for a photoshoot in the park is right on par with this guide. But if you don’t want to pay for a ticket (which I highly encourage you do) the iconic MET steps alone are enough to warrant a visit.
Let your inner Gossip Girl shine as you visit one of the best photo spots in Central Park.
The Bridle Path runs around just about the entirety of Central Park in a loop, but the area specifically around the Reservoir is worth mentioning.
On the East Side, near Fifth Avenue the path is lined with Cherry Trees that create a surreal spot to take photos in Central Park.
On the other side of the Reservoir, near the West Side, Bridle Path is sprinkled with rustic, iron bridges that can make your photos feel timeless.
All this to say perusing the path is worth your time, you might find the perfect spot to take a photo in Central Park.
Where to take photos in Central Park (Post Summary)
In sum, these are the best photo spots in Central Park:
- Bow Bridge
- Umpire Rock
- The Mall
- Bethesda Terrace + Fountain
- Wollman Rink
- Gapstow Bridge
- The Ramble Stone Arch & Oak Bridge
- Row Boats
- Belvedere Castle
- Conservatory Water
- Shakespeare Garden
- The MET
- Bridle Path
When is the best time to visit Central Park for a photoshoot?
The cheesy answer I want to give you is that any time is a great time for a photo shoot in Central Park, but that’s not helpful. So in my honest opinion, fall and spring are hard to beat.
The park is bursting with color, folks tend to be the cheeriest and the weather is damn-near perfect. More specifically April and November tend to be the months my camera knows no mercy.
The park is too beautiful with the cherry blossoms in peak bloom or when the fall foliage engulfs the trees.
Regardless of the season you choose to have your Central Park photo-shoot I encourage prioritizing lighting and starting your shoot early to avoid crowds.
Map of the best photo spots in Central Park
And there you have it friends – a quick roundup of the best photo spots in Central Park. I hope you enjoyed the post.