A gondola ride followed by lunch (or brunch) on the lake and a stroll through Central Park.
Central Park is a classic New York date. New Yorkers have been romancing each other here for over a century and a half!
Book a gondola ride in advance (at least a week ahead of time if possible) and enjoy a half-hour or hour-long leisurely ride on an authentic Venetian gondola professionally steered by an experienced gondolier relaxing ride around the Central Park Lake is absolutely transporting. Feel free to bring along a bottle of wine or champagne. This is a pretty popular spot where many a gentleman has popped the question. Ask Andres (the gondolier) to show you the Bow Bridge and try to see how many TV shows and movies you recognize being shot at this location!
After your gondola ride you will be docked right at the Boathouse Café where you will enjoy a lunch out on the terrace overlooking the lake. Once again, be sure to call ahead and reserve a table (and be sure to request an outside table). You can conveniently book both the gondola and lunch when you call the restaurant.
When you’re finished with lunch, how about a stroll through Central Park while you’re here? Let me help you out with that. Go to www.centralparknyc.org/maps to view an interactive map of Central Park. From the Boathouse Café take a 5 minute walk over to the Bethesda Terrace (you can see it clearly from the restaurant and the lake. When you’re there, walk under the arcade (tunnel) and look at the beautiful tilework on the ceiling (in good weather it’s common to see people performing in here since the acoustics are pretty awesome). When you’re through the tunnel just walk up the steps and you’ll be at the beginning of one of the most famous walks in New York City – The Mall (or Literary Walk), a promenade designed for proper 19th century strolling by the designers of the park Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmstead. This also has been in quite a few movies… can you name them? Here are a couple: Maid in Manhattan and Big Daddy. Can you remember others? When you come to the end of The Mall follow the path on the map that will lead you to 5th Avenue and 59th Street. You’ll be right by The Plaza Hotel where all the horse & carriages are. Once past The Mall you’ll come upon the small but very fun Central Park Zoo. This was the zoo from the animated film Madagascar. Take a peek inside and say hello to the polar bear, seals and 150 other kinds of other animals and creatures from around the world.
The Boathouse Café and gondola rental: Park Drive North in Central Park; tel: (212) 517-2233; website: www.thecentralparkboathouse.com. Getting there: enter Central Park from either 5th Avenue and 72nd Street or 5th Avenue and 76th Street. It’s just a 10-minute walk from here. Use the Central Park map as a guide, www.centralparknyc.org/maps. Or, go all out and take a horse & carriage from 5th Avenue and 59th Street directly to the boathouse (horse & carriage rides are $50 for the first 20 minutes plus an additional charge thereafter). Always double-check the price with the driver before hopping in.
Hours: Lunch is served Monday – Friday, 12pm – 4pm year round; Saturday – Sunday is brunch only served from 9:30am to 4pm.
Some interesting notes:
Central Park is a completely man-made park and is considered the first urban park in the US. It is 843 acres right smack dab in the middle of Manhattan, some of the most expensive real estate in the world! Construction began in the 1850s and was completed in the 1870s, igniting a frenzy of the city’s wealthiest citizens to build the most beautiful and palatial new residences along 5th Avenue and thereby permanently creating one of the poshest and most exclusive neighborhoods in the world, the Upper East Side.