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A Broke-Ass Guide to Central Park

Updated: Jan 23, 2016 12:14
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This originally appeared in Broke-Ass Stuart’s Guide to Living Cheaply in New York.

Since the weather is finally getting to be so nice, I figured I’d share some great Broke-Ass things to do in that giant square of foliage in the center of Manhattan.

Designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, Central Park is 843 acres of a good time. And guess what, most of it is free. Feel like smoking a bowl and playing Frisbee? Head to the park. Wanna go for a jog and not have to dodge Dodges (or to be honest, cabbies)? Central Park is your place. Your old lady kick you out and you can’t afford a hotel room? Nobody has to pay to sleep in the park! If you can’t figure out what to do with wide open green spaces, big boulders, lots of trees and free time, I’m not gonna spell it out for you. But what I am gonna do is list off some of the attractions and make snarky comments about them to give you some ideas about what to do here. They are of course for when you’re tired of laughing at 17 year old kids on mushrooms who are rolling around in the foliage and yelling that they’ve made some profound discoveries about the universe. Some are free and some cost money; it’s up to you to decide which ones you want to visit. I can only take you so far.  You can find where most of these things are on this map.

The Great Lawn: Sunbathing, free concerts, sports, and more sunbathing. At least skin cancer is free!

Belvedere Castle: While it’s not a real castle (there are not real castles in the US) and Mr. Belvedere doesn’t work here, it’s a great place to get a view of the surrounding area and try to figure out which sunbather you’re gonna stalk. You are so creepy, you know that?

Alice and Wonderland Statue: Linda McCartney took some rad photos of Jimi Hendrix and the rest of the Experience on this statue in the 60s, so when I was 18 and had driven out here with some buddies after high school I wandered the park in search of it. I found it. It’s pretty cool.

Central Park Zoo: I’ve seen better, but you can’t knock the location. Also, my mom got stung by a bee once when we were here. How the fuck did that bee escape from its cage is my question.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir: People like to run circles around this thing'fuck that! I hate running.

Strawberry Fields: Dedicated for John Lennon, by Yoko Ono, in 1985. Bring your tourist friends here so they can take photos. I’m gonna be so disappointed if it’s a deranged fan who kills me and not somebody that I’ve managed to piss off in my lifetime.

Statues throughout the Park: Why don’t people make statues of motherfuckers anymore? That’s not too much to ask for is it? If the aforementioned deranged killer gets me, I’m putting it in your hands to get a statue made of me. If for some reason Central Park doesn’t want it, see if they’ll take it at the Russian & Turkish Bathhouse in the East Village'wow, I just managed to creep myself out with that mental image, and I don’t even know why.

Wollman Skating Rink: Just like ice skating in Bryant Park but not free. Donald Trump owns this thing, what the fuck does he need our money for? He should donate it to the City of New York.

Shakespeare in the Park: While this summer festival at Delacorte Theater is free, it would probably be easier to get Donald Trump to donate the Wollman Skating Rink than it is to get tickets.

Rollerbladers Dancing to Disco near the Bandshell: This always makes me wish I was gay.

Sheep Meadow: No sheep here, just good looking people sun-baaaaaa-thing'ugh, I hate myself for that one. Somebody please queue that deranged fan.

Summer Stage: One of the best places to see really good free live music. For some reason, I just can’t think of any smart-ass comment for this one.

Tavern on the Green: If you can actually afford to eat here, would you like to take me out to dinner? I’m a great conversationalist and generally put out on the first date.

The Lake: Where else in New York could you take your sweetie out for a rowboat ride? You can procure one of these boats at the Loeb Boathouse which unfortunately isn’t where you will find Lisa Loeb'I asked. Where oh where has the patron saint of cute girls in glasses gone to?

Bethesda Terrace: You didn’t know that that place with the fountain overlooking the lake had a name did you? Me neither until I looked it up at

The Dairy: Once a place where cows were milked and inseminated, The Dairy now serves as Central Park’s official gift store. Now you know where to buy a stupid fucking Central Park coffee mug should you ever need to.

Swedish Cottage: Apparently the Swedish would like to be known for more than just their bikini team, candy fishes, and Ikea. They’d like you to know that they are very fond of marionettes too, because that’s what happens here, marionettes.

The Obelisk: Also know as Cleopatra’s Needle, this thing has been in existence for longer than your god has. Seriously, it was erected in 1500 BC in Heliopolis and wasn’t brought to New York until 1879.

Now get out there an enjoy that weather!

photos from, tek-tonic, New York Panorama, lore675, wired new york, Central

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.

1 Comment

  1. Robert
    April 8, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    You nailed this one.