Being raised in NYC my entire life I have to admit it wasn’t until I picked up photography as a career that I began to really explore Central Park. The infamous park in the world’s most famous metropolis has such a wide range of opportunities for amazing photographs, but here are some of my favorite, most iconic best photo spots in Central Park.
Located right in the center of Central Park, Bethesda Terrace offers so many opportunities for a variety of photos. To get an image like you see above takes a bit of luck, or a rainy day as these steps are generally crowded with people. I recommend scheduling early in the morning for a session if possible to avoid large crowds.
Right next to Bethesda Terrace you will immediately notice Bethesda Fountain. This iconic fountain is located right next to Bethesda Terrace and the lake that Loeb Boathouse sits on. It is walking distance to majority of locations listed in this article and a must see for anyone visiting the park.
On warmer days it can potentially get pretty crowded so I always recommend visiting earlier in the morning to avoid being surrounded by hundreds of people, but there have been many times I was lucky to have nearly the entire place to myself and the couple I was working with. While we can plan for early engagement sessions, wedding days might not have such flexible timelines. If this is the case do not worry, it is still a great photo spot in Central Park with quick and easy access to other areas.
Loeb Boathouse is not just a great backdrop for your engagement or wedding photo session but also a great restaurant! Just next to it you will also find the rowboat rental area if you would like to go for a little ride before, during, or after your photo session in Central Park.
Wagner Cove is a bit of a hidden gem very close to Bow Bridge and the Cherry Hill fountain from the popular show “Friends” (both listed below). This gazebo surrounded by the lake is nicely secluded from the more well known areas nearby and makes for a great Central Park photo spot – whether you want to stop here for some photos during an engagement or wedding session or actually have your Central Park wedding ceremony here!
Bow Bridge has appeared in many Hollywood movies including Spiderman 3 and Night at the Museum among others. It is a romantic spot in the park that allows thousands of people to cross between the East and West sides of the lake on which so many people rowboat through in warmer months.
It’s generally very difficult to capture the beauty of Bow Bridge while actually on it due to the amount of people stopping and crossing while admiring the views of the Upper West Side skyline however there is a great little spot just to the side of it that allows us to use Bow Bridge as one of the best photo spots in Central Park.
Cherry Hill Fountain
Made popular in the well known show “Friends” – the Fountain on Cherry Hill wins the label of one of the best photo spots in Central Park. This fountain made its debut in the intro of the show where the group of friends splashed around and played in the fountain. Recently renovated in 2019, the Central Park fountain on Cherry Hill is photo ready! It is just across from the steps that take you down to Wagner Cove, mentioned earlier in this article.
Also recently renovated, Belvedere Castle is not something you might expect to see in New York City. Located right around 78th Street in the middle of Central Park it is easiest to access from the West side. If you are going to use Belvedere Castle as one of the best photo spots in Central Park for your session, you need to add Shakespeare Garden as well which is close by!
Shakespeare Garden in Central Park honors the famed poet and playwright. Throughout the garden you will find all of the flowers Shakespeare mentions in his work, and in close proximity you can also find the Delacorte Theater which is home to the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park. There are so many amazing photo opportunities for your wedding or engagement session in the area – my favorite being this beautiful staircase which bring you up into the garden area. It is especially beautiful in the Spring!
A great photo spot in Central Park is located right on the border of 5th Ave and 74th Street named Conservatory Water – a not so small man made pond popular for cruising around with RC model boats available for rental.
The Vanderbilt Gate is one of the main entrances to the beautifully manicured Conservatory Gardens on 105th Street and 5th Ave. The inside of the park requires a permit you must obtain from the park for both engagement sessions and weddings, however shooting in front of the gate does not require one. If you do plan on having your photo session here, I do encourage obtaining a photo permit for the Conservatory Gardens.
As mentioned above, the Conservatory Gardens in Central Park are absolutely stunning and easily my most favorite location in Central Park for engagement and wedding photo sessions. Their permit fee for engagement sessions is very reasonable – $100 as of July 2020. The permit fee for wedding ceremonies is $400 as of July 2020. As fees are subject to change, please click here for up to date information and click here to be taken directly to the application fee.
Just north of the Conservatory Garden you will find the Harlem Meer – a very under rated photo spot in Central Park in my opinion, mainly because of its distance from Bethesda Fountain and Terrace which so many people want to include in their session.
Remember the pigeon lady from the movie Home Alone? This is that bridge! It is very easy to get to from around the Plaza Hotel. I have shot dozens of engagement sessions and surprise proposals with this iconic bridge in the background and it never gets old. if you’re visiting NYC in the winter, just north of this bridge you will find the Wollman Ice Skating Rink.
The Mall is the long path surrounded by tall symmetrical trees on either side connecting the Gapstow Bridge area to Bethesda Fountain and Terrace. It starts by the Olmsted Flower bed on 67th Street and ends at Bethesda Terrace on 72nd Street. Central Park’s Mall is breathtakingly beautiful in every season, but my favorite times of year are in the Fall during peak foliage as well as Winter when everything is covered in snow.
Central Park Skyline View by Wollman Rink
Situated just northeast of the Wollman Rink, this large unnamed rock provides one of the greatest views of the skyline while inside the park thanks to it’s location and higher elevation. A perfect spot for a proposal like you see above!
Just north of Bow Bridge and the lake it sits on you will find The Ramble. Careful, it’s easy to get lost here! But there are so many hidden gems around this area I am sure you won’t even mind walking around The Ramble as you try to find your way out. This area is especially beautiful in the Fall during peak Fall foliage colors!
Located on the Hernshead peninsula on the western part of the lake in Central Park, Ladies Pavilion is a very popular spot for wedding ceremonies. A great benefit of this retired and relocated trolley stop is that it provides a bit of shelter in case of any bad weather during your Central Park wedding ceremony. It overlooks the lake to one side, and Oak Bridge can be seen not too far away as you look towards The Ramble.
It originally stood near the Park’s Central Park West and 59th Street entrance, but was relocated to its current home in 1912; it stood near the former Ladies Pond, a secluded water body where women could skate privately in the Park.Credit: Central Park NYC
Lake Viewing Area
A spot you might find only by accident, the Lake Viewing Area in Central Park is a spot with a beautiful view onto the lake (as the name suggests of course) where you see The San Remo – the twin residential buildings that are iconic in NYC’s skyline since 1929. It sits just north of Bow Bridge as you make your way towards The Ramble.
And everywhere else!
The locations I’ve outlined above are the ones you can easily Google on a map and be taken directly to them. What makes Central Park so special are all the little spots in between that we don’t plan to photograph in the first place, but when we’re blessed with gorgeous light we absolutely need to stop for a photograph!
Let’s Plan Your Central Park Photo Session!
Did you enjoy this list of the best photo spots in Central Park? I would love to capture your own amazing photos in Central Park! Whether you are planning a surprise proposal, formal engagement session, or a Central Park wedding I am here to help to make things as smooth as possible for you. Click here to use the contact form and tell me all about what you’re dreaming up for your wedding day and we can see how to best use our talents to tell your wedding day story. Cheers!