best Central Park photo spots

15 Best Central Park Photo Spots To Capture Gorgeous Pictures

Charlotte DowDiscover NYC, Manhattan, Outdoors, Photography, Travel Tips Leave a Comment

By Charlotte Dow. This guide to Central Park photography contains affiliate links to trusted partners!

Looking to discover the top Central Park photo spots?

Then you’re in the right place!

No trip to New York City is complete without a visit to Central Park, one of the most famous city parks in the world.

Stretching over 843 acres and 51 city blocks, Central Park has something for everyone, from nature lovers to sports fans to literary junkies.

With over 42 million visitors per year, it’s no wonder Central Park is one of the most photographed sites in the city and high on any list of NYC photo spots. The sheer diversity of the park’s landscape ensures that no two Central Park photos will be exactly the same and each photo will be just as unique as the park itself.

Of course, with so much space and so many iconic locations, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when planning a photoshoot in Central Park.

To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite Central Park photoshoot locations, covering everything from iconic photo spots like Bow Bridge and The Lake to more hidden gems like the park’s Shakespeare Garden.

Whether you’re taking your wedding photos or just snapping an #OOTD, we want to help you capture your best Central Park pictures. Read on to learn more about the best photo spots in Central Park.

Couple being photographed in the best photo spots in Central Park
Showing our guests the best Central Park photo spots. Photo via NYC Photo Journeys.

Book a Central Park Photo Shoot

Looking to plan a Central Park photo shoot — with you in the pictures? We’ve got you covered with our Professional NYC Photoshoots.

These shoots include a pre-shoot planning call, a custom itinerary, and unlimited photos to keep.

Central Park is one of the most requested locations for these shoots, so whether you want gorgeous photos near Bow Bridge and Bethesda Fountain, to channel your inner Gossip Girl with a shot on the Met Steps, or to head down south to capture the stunning Billionaires’ Row skyline from the Gapstow Bridge, we can make it happen.

It’s also possible to add other iconic NYC locations to a Central Park photography session. For instance, one popular 2-hour itinerary is Central Park, Upper East Side, and Brooklyn Bridge — which includes a great mix of nature, skyline, and architecture shots.

Click here for full information and to book. You can also head to our Instagram @nycphototour to see sample shots.

15 Best Central Park Photo Spots

Why is New York so popular? For one, it’s home to the stunning Central Park, which is full of beautiful places to take photos. Here are a few top picks.

Gapstow Bridge is one of the top Central Park photo spots
Guest posing in front of Gapstow Bridge on a Professional NYC Photoshoot. Photo via NYC Photo Journeys.

1. The Gapstow Bridge

This gorgeous rustic stone bridge located in the southeast corner of the park is one of the best spots in Central Park for photos, often finding its way into wedding photoshoots, portraits, and even scenes in films and TV shows.

Whether you’re posing on the bridge or capturing landscape shots of The Pond and surrounding trees, you’re sure to get a great photo here any time of year.

The bridge’s proximity to the Hallett Nature Sanctuary also makes it a great place to sneak a peek at some of the park’s wildlife.

By the way, Gapstow Bridge is one of the most popular spots we take guests on a private NYC photoshoot, as it’s possible to capture the Plaza Hotel as well as the Billionaires’ Row skyline from it.

Speaking of the Plaza Hotel, if you’ve ever thought about living in a hotel in NYC, this luxe option offers extended stays. Their opulent suites would definitely make for epic photo locations, too!

2. Bethesda Terrace Arcade

Located at the heart of Central Park, Bethesda Terrace is a favorite meeting spot for both locals and travelers alike.

Head down to the Terrace’s lower-level Arcade and you’ll see why this spot has quickly become one of the top Central Park Instagram spots.

This interior walkway is covered in gorgeous European-style tiles from the Minton Tiling Company dating back to 1860s.

With the right camera settings, it’s the perfect spot for a photoshoot — especially if you head there early in the morning to beat the crowds!

Bethesda Fountain is one of the top Central Park photo spots in NYC
Guest posing in front of Bethesda Fountain in Central Park during a Professional NYC Photo Shoot. Photo via NYC Photo Journeys.

3. Bethesda Fountain

Featuring the iconic Angel of the Waters statue designed by Emma Stebbins, Bethesda Fountain is one of the most famous places in Central Park. It’s also a top request by our NYC photoshoot guests.

With plenty of space to get the perfect shot and views of the Lake and its iconic rowboats, the area around Bethesda Fountain is a prime spot for pictures in Central Park.

And if you’re wondering where to take stunning winter photos in NYC, visiting Bethesda Fountain during the colder months allows you to see the angel dusted with snow.

Or come by in the warmer months to see the fountain in action, filled with cool water and lily pads.

4. Wollman Rink and Lookout

Whether or not you’re planning on lacing up your skates, Wollman Rink makes for some of the best Central Park pictures.

Located in the southeast corner of the park, the rink operates year-round, offering ice skating in the winter and roller skating in the summer.

The elevated lookout above the rink makes for one of the best NYC photo spots, offering views of the buildings surrounding the park as well as its iconic greenery.

5. The Mall

Want to take some stunning Central Park photos? Head to The Mall, a 6-block walkway lined with trees, benches, and statues of literary greats like William Shakespeare, Robert Burns, and Sir Walter Scott.

The many trees surrounding the walkway make it an incredible place to capture New York City’s unique seasons, from the warm colors of NYC in fall to the spring blooms.

Get there early in the morning or on a weekday to avoid the crowds and get the best photos.

Belvedere Castle is a great spot to capture pics of Central Park
It doesn’t get more magical than a picnic at Belvedere Castle! Photo by Zane Lindsay on Pexels.

6. Belvedere Castle

Looking for some unique Central Park photoshoot ideas? Here’s one: head to Central Park’s Belvedere Castle and feel like you’re worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the city!

Designed as a lookout spot with views of several other great Central Park photo spots, this beautiful stone castle is the perfect place for a fairytale-style photoshoot.

Pose in one of the famous turrets, or set up your camera across from Turtle Pond to capture the full view of this iconic structure. Whether or not you want to dress up like your favorite Disney Princess is up to you.

After your shoot, lay out a blanket to relax and review your images of Central Park in one of the best picnic spots in NYC.

Bow Bridge is one of the top Central Park photo spots
Guest on Bow Bridge during a Professional NYC Photoshoot. Photo via NYC Photo Journeys.

7. Bow Bridge

You’ll likely recognize Bow Bridge, arguably the most famous bridge in Central Park, from iconic films like The Way We Were and Enchanted.

This beautiful bridge over the Lake connects Cherry Hill and the Ramble and offers amazing views of the Fifth Avenue skyline.

Its neo-classical style also makes it one of the most romantic spots in the city and a perfect location for Central Park engagement photos or for fun couples activities in NYC.

8. The Ramble

Looking to escape into nature without leaving Manhattan? Head to the Ramble, a 36-acre woodland landscape conveniently located near the Lake and Bethesda Terrace.

With plenty of winding trails through trees and creeks, the Ramble offers the Central Park photographer a more natural setting for their photoshoots.

This is also one of the best Central Park photo spots for those looking to capture the park’s wildlife, as it’s one of the top spots in NYC for birdwatching.

9. Wagner Cove

Tucked away at the edge of the Lake, Wagner Cove is high on our list of cute spots in Central Park.

The area features a small rustic shelter with benches, perfect for dates or even small wedding ceremonies.

With awesome views of the Lake and the adjacent Cherry Hill, Wagner Cove is the perfect spot to capture some of your best Central Park pictures whether you’re flying solo or posing with a partner.

The Lake is one of the best places to take photos in Central Park
Enjoy the fall foliage by Central Park Lake. Photo by Marta Wave.

10. The Lake

Consistently listed as one of the best places to photograph in NYC, Central Park’s famous Lake is gorgeous from any angle.

Whether you’re posing alongside the Lake or decide to rent a rowboat for a fun and active photoshoot (or unique summer date idea in NYC), you’re bound to get some good shots here.

As a hallmark of Central Park Photography, you’d be remiss to skip out on this location.

The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir is one of the best places to take pictures in Central Park
The Reservoir offers incredible views of the NYC skyline as well as an awesome running trail. Photo by Paul Van York on Pexels.

11. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir

Offering some of the best views in Central Park, the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir is a favorite of all kinds of visitors to the park.

Stop by in spring to see the reservoir surrounded by cherry blossoms or go for a stroll on the surrounding walking path as the leaves fall in autumn. The east side of the Reservoir when facing west is also gorgeous at sunset.

Just don’t forget your camera, as you’ll definitely want to snap a few pics along the way!

12. Shakespeare Garden

Featuring herbs, flowers, and trees mentioned in Shakespeare’s many plays and poems, the Shakespeare Garden is one of the most colorful places to take photos in Central Park.

The garden’s gorgeous blooms make it a perfect spot for a portrait shoot or a romantic couples shoot.

Feeling inspired after your photoshoot? Head next door to the Delacorte Theater to catch one of the Public Theater’s free Shakespeare in the Park productions!

The Conservatory Garden is one of the top places to take pictures in Central Park
Guest posing in Central Park’s Conservatory Garden on a Professional NYC Photoshoot. Photo via NYC Photo Journeys.

13. Conservatory Garden

Central Park’s Conservatory Garden is one of the park’s crown jewels, featuring 6 acres of blooms planted in the English, French, and Italianate styles.

Featuring everything from crabapple trees to chrysanthemums, the Conservatory Garden is one of the top Central Park photo locations and a particular favorite of area wedding photographers.

And with new plants in bloom year-round, you’ll be able to take gorgeous photos whenever you chose to visit.

We’ve worked with many Professional NYC Photoshoot clients to capture beautiful Central Park images here.

14. Umpire Rock

Located on the park’s west side at 63rd Street, Umpire Rock is one of the largest of Central Park’s iconic bedrock outcrops.

Climb up here and you’ll feel like the king (or queen!) of New York as you take in amazing views of the park and surrounding skyscrapers.

Plus, scrambling up the rocks is sure to make you feel like a kid again!

Wood Chip Vantage Point is one of the best places to capture beautiful Central Park images
Great views of the Lake await at this tiny vantage point. Photo by Maxime LEVREL on Pexels.

15. Wood Chip Vantage Point

Though its name may not sound all that promising, Wood Chip Vantage Point offers iconic Central Park views and is the perfect spot for a photoshoot.

You’ll find this tiny alcove just across from Bow Bridge, with stunning views of the bridge and Lake.

You’ll also get a glimpse of the Manhattan skyline, giving your photos the perfect combination of city and nature vibes. It’s truly one of the best views in NYC for free!

Central Park Photo Spot Map

To help you easily find these incredible New York photo spots in Central Park, we’ve created a Google Map:

Check out the map showcasing the best places in Central Park for pictures above or click here.

Tips For Taking Great Pictures Of Central Park In New York

To captire great pics of Central Park, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Morning is the best time to take pictures in Central Park. Central Park is one of the most popular attractions in NYC, meaning it can get crowded. The earlier you arrive to these top Central Park picture spots, the easier it will be to get the shot you want without having to battle swarms of people. Bonus: from 7am-9am it’s off leash hours, meaning you can get some adorable pups in your shots.

Look for the leading lines. When taking photos of Central Park, one composition trick is to look for leading lines — like fences and walking paths — and use those to lead the viewer’s eyes to your subject. This can help you create really interesting images in Central Park’s best photo spots.

Watch out for distractions. One thing to keep in mind while exploring the best places to take pictures in Central Park is to avoid things like garbage cans and litter, which can take away from the beauty of your shot. If you’re photographing a person, also avoid having lightpoles and other objects coming out of their head.

Challenge yourself to change up your angles. Whether you’re trying to get the best view of Central Park, famous Central Park sights, or smaller details like flowers, try this: challenge yourself to take 10 unique photos of your subject by changing up your angles and composition. Then 20. Then 30. This exercise will really help you stretch your creative muscles.

Hire a Central Park photographer. Shameless plug: we’d love to be your photographer and help you capture gorgeous Central Park photos — with you in the pictures! You can learn more about our private NYC photoshoot packages here.

Hotels Near Central Park

After taking pictures of New York in Central Park, retreat back to a comfortable hotel nearby. A few recommendations include:

1 Hotel Central Park. This sustainable luxury hotel features a design inspired by nature and was built using reclaimed materials.

The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel. Located on the Upper East Side, this luxury property features comfortable rooms as well as an onsite spa, fitness center, and restaurants.

The Empire Hotel. Right near Lincoln Center and Central Park sits this beautiful hotel offering luxury accmmodations, a lobby bar, a rooftop pool, and a fitness center.

Need help capturing the best of Central Park — with you in the photos? Book one of our Private Photo Journeys, a walking tour that includes photos of your group to keep. Or get a styled, custom shoot that tells your unique story through an NYC Influencer Shoot or Professional New York City Shoot. Email [email protected] with inquiries.

New York Travel Insurance

When visiting New York City – or anywhere else in the world – it’s wise to get travel insurance.

One of the best travel medical insurance for travelers is SafetyWing as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage — including coverage if you’re traveling for months as well as limited coverage in your home country).

Additionally, SafetyWing is budget-friendly and offers $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.

Click here to price out travel insurance for your trip in just a few clicks.

What are your favorite Central Park photo spots?

About the Author

Charlotte Dow

Charlotte Dow is an NYC-based writer and communications professional specializing in digital storytelling. She is a recent graduate of the M.S. in Public Relations & Corporate Communication program at NYU's School of Professional Studies.

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