Central Park North


Exploring New York highlights cool spots around the city that are worth checking out. Where is your favorite place in Central Park? Let us know in the comments.

In comparison to the busy, tourist filled paths of the lower half of the park, the quieter north half of Central Park almost feels like a completely different place. Here nature is the focal point and the winding paths create an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city around you. There are many great photo opportunities in the park no matter what time of year you visit. In order to fully enjoy the experience as I capture the sites with my camera, I decided to split the park in half around 82nd St with the Great Lawn being my center point. Here are my top photo spots in the northern half of the park, from the Great Lawn to 110th st.


Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir

Head north from the Great Lawn and you will reach the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, here you can get some great shots of nature, bridges, and views of the east and west skylines across the reservoir. The path closest to the water is a running path so be mindful of runners and stick to the walker-friendly Bridle Path. There are many openings connecting the two paths that you can use snap some quick pictures.


Cast Iron Bridges

Bridges No. 24, No. 27, and No. 28 are the three cast iron bridges that span the Bridle Path around the reservoir. Bridge No.. 24 and No. 27 are on the southern end of the reservoir near the 86th st transverse road and are two of the oldest cast iron bridges in the US. Bridge No. 28, also known as the Gothic Bridge, is located on the northwestern side of the reservoir and is a favorite among photographers.


The Pool

North of the Reservoir is the quaint, lesser-known pond known as the Pool. Surrounded by grassy lawns, beautiful trees, and hidden waterfalls, this is a great spot any time of the year. The pool is just north of the 100th street entrance for easy access from the upper west side.


The Ravine

Near the Pool is the only stream valley in the park known as the Ravine. Here the city views are blocked by the trees and nature is the focal point. Walk along the path to escape the city and capture the beauty of the Loch, waterfalls, bridges and arches, and the nature around you.


Glen Span Arch and Huddlestone Arch

On either end of the Ravine are two arches that are favorites in the park. Glen Span Arch is located on the southern end of the Ravine and is known for its geometric stones and views of the waterfall from the pool. The north end of the Ravine is home to Huddlestone Arch. Made of uncut boulders held together by gravity alone the arch makes for a unique place for photos.

Other locations

There are quite a few other locations that are worth mentioning but were unable to make the list because of season or renovation.

Conservatory Gardens: Best visited in the spring and summer months. The gardens hold a vast amount of flowers, plants, and fountains perfect for an instagram snap.

North Meadow Butterfly Garden: Best visited in the spring and summer. The flowers and plants found in this meadow are home to butterflies and hummingbirds in the warmer months of the year.

Wildflower Meadow: Located between the North Meadow and the Ravine is a meadow full of wildflowers that are local to the New York area. Visit in the warmer spring and summer months to see the flowers in full bloom.


Central Park South


Exploring New York highlights cool spots around the city that are worth checking out. Where is your favorite place in Central Park? Let us know in the comments.

59th Street to 110th Street between 5th and 8th Avenues is home to Central Park. The 843 acre park hosts about 25 million visitors every year making it one of the most visited urban parks in the United States. It’s not surprising that there are many great photo opportunities no matter the time of year. I wanted to enjoy the park as I explored with my camera so I decided to split the park in half around 82nd St with the Great Lawn being my center point. Here are my top photo spots in the southern half of the Central Park from 59th St to the Great Lawn.


Gapstow Bridge

Gapstow Bridge is in the south-eastern corner around 62nd St. Capture the beauty of the park with a view of the city skyline in the background. The famous Plaza Hotel can be seen from the north side of the bridge and in the winter you can see the Wolfman ice skating rink from the south. On calm days reflections of the bridge and the cities skyscrapers will reflect off the pond making for beautiful photos.


Central Park Dairy

Just up the path from Gapstow Bridge is the Central Park Dairy. What is now a visitors center and gift shop was originally built to provide a safe place for families to purchase fresh milk for children while visiting the park. Located in the original children’s district, the gingerbread-like building provides a whimsical backdrop for your photoshoot.




Head west up the path from the Dairy and you’ll find one of young park-goers favorite attractions, the Carousel. With 57 hand-carved and beautifully decorated horses, this 111-year-old carousel is a great Instagram snap waiting to happen.


The Mall

From 66th St. to 72nd St. runs the only intentional straight path in all of Central Park. Framed by rows of American Elms the Mall is one of the most visited and photographed areas in the park. Take in the beauty on one of the rows of benches lining the walkway or stroll through the local vendors and street performers that set up here when the weather is nice. No matter what time of year you visit, you are bound to get great photos.


Bethesda Terrace

Located at the north end of the Mall is beautiful Bethesda Terrace. The arches, tiled ceiling, fountain, staircases, arcade, and views of the lake are only a few of the things that make the Terrace the perfect place for photos. The beauty of the area makes this a favorite among visitors so go early for your best chance at photos sans crowd.


Bow Bridge

Just west of Bethesda Terrace is one of the most romantic spots in New York City. Between the beauty of the bridge itself and the views around it, Bow Bridge is a favorite spot for couples as well as photographers and filmmakers. With the Ramble to the north, Cherry Hill to the south, and stunning views of Central Park West, 5th Avenue, and the Lake, you can get a great shot from any direction.


Obelisk (Cleopatra’s Needle)

The Obelisk, better known as Cleopatra’s Needle, is the oldest man-made object in Central Park and one of the oldest Egyptian obelisks in the world. The Obelisk in New York is one of three in the world known as Cleopatra’s Needle the other two being located in Paris and London. Despite their name, the obelisk in central park and its twin in Paris were actually made in 1475 BC, thousands of years before Cleopatra reigned. It was moved to the park in 1881 near the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Other locations

There are quite a few other locations that are worth mentioning but were not on this list because of season or renovation.

Strawberry Fields: The memorial to John Lennon is open year round but the best time to visit is in the spring and summer when the plants are in bloom.

Cherry Hill: Located near Strawberry Fields, Cherry Hill is best to visit at the end of March through April when the forsythia and azaleas are in bloom.

Loeb Boathouse: Visit in the warmer months to get snaps of the paddle boats on the lake and around the famous boathouse.

Belvedere Castle: The castle is currently under renovations but will be open later in 2019. Check the Central Park website for updates.

Shakespeare Garden: Best visited in the warmer months when the roses are in bloom.

Arches: There are an abundance of arches in Central Park that make for great Instagram shots.


The Skyline from Brooklyn Bridge Park


Exploring New York highlights cool spots around the city that are worth checking out. Where is your favorite place to get a great shot of the NYC skyline? Let us know in the comments.

While there are many places with great views of the New York City skyline, one of my favorites is Brooklyn Bridge Park. From Pier 6 off Atlantic Ave to the Manhattan Bridge is a mile and a half greenway perfect for a day escape from the skyscrapers and busy streets of the city. If you are looking for some Instagram worthy pictures, start your trip at Pier 6.


 Head to the end of Pier 6 for some great snaps of the southernmost point of the city. In the warmer months, spend time at the sand volleyball courts or take the family to the playground. From Memorial Day to Halloween you can catch a ride to Governors Island on the weekend ferry or hop aboard the sailboat Pilot to learn a bit about the history of the famous boat built in 1924.


From Pier 6 head north to Pier 3. Relax on the lawn and take in the views of the city and the Statue of Liberty. Visit in the warmer months for shots of the city with the lush lawn and plants around the park. Use a telephoto lens and a tripod (or a steady hand) to snag a photo of Lady Liberty across the harbor.


Just down from Pier 3 is the remnants of what was once Pier one. This spot is a favorite for photographers to get amazing shots of the city at sunset with the old pillars in the foreground. I recommend getting to this location early to scout your spot as it does get busy during golden hour.


The next stop on the list is the corner of Water St and Old Fulton St. This area has an abundance of Instagram ready locations such as the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, The River Cafe, the Brooklyn Bridge lookout, and this cute Elmhurst Dairy truck.


On the other side of the bridge is another popular sunset photo spot, Pebble Beach. From here you have great views of Jane’s Carousel, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Manhattan skyline with the setting sun. Another spot in this area is St. Ann’s Warehouse. Snap a picture of the bridge through the windows in the courtyard for a picture of the bridge not many people think to get.


From Pebble Beach head to the corner of Water St and Washington for the last stop on this list. Here you can get find one of the most iconic views in Dumbo, the Empire State Building framed by the Manhattan Bridge. Be prepared to wait in line for your chance to take your picture as it is a hot spot for many people wanting to get the perfect shot. Come during the day for the best lighting to showcase the red brick buildings, cobblestone street, and the bridge.

Getting there: There are many ways to get to the park from anywhere in the city. Take the F train to York St, the A/C to High street, or the 2/3 to Clark street. If you are staying in Manhattan, take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.!


Where to celebrate Lunar New Year in NYC


Welcome the Asian Lunar New Year -the year of the Pig- with these fun and colorful events happening all over the city.

The Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year, is a festival that marks the beginning of the year in the Lunar calendar. It’s celebrated by most East Asian cultures on the same day, and it’s around the corner! While the official date is February 5th, there are festivities throughout the whole month so mark your calendar and set out to some of the best NYC events in February!




Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival

The Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival takes place in Manhattan's Chinatown on February 5th. As part of the annual traditions, the Better Chinatown Society lights thousands of firecrackers to welcome the new year and ward off evil spirits. Dancers and singers perform on a big stage while dragon and lion masked groups take over the streets.

The festival starts at 11:00 am and lasts until 3:30 pm near the basketball court in Sara Roosevelt Park.  



Annual Chinese New Year Parade

The Chinese New Year Parade and Festival takes place on a different day than the Firecracker Festival. This year it will be celebrated on Sunday, February 17th. The spectacle includes musicians, lion and dragon dances, stunning outfits, acrobats and martial art performers. More than 5,000 people participate in the parade. The event starts at 1:00 pm at Mott and Hester streets and ends in Roosevelt Park, at around 4:30 pm.




Chinese New Year Parade on 8th Avenue

The Chinese New Year is also celebrated all over Brooklyn. The annual Brooklyn Lunar New Year Parade takes place February 5th on 8th Avenue, from 50th Street to 61st Street. It features traditional dancing, singing, kung fu demonstrations, and firecrackers!



Lunar New Year in Prospect Park

Also on February 5th, a wide range of activities will be taking place at Prospect Park. From paper-lantern making to Bingo and card games, the Prospect Park Alliance has a fun set of free activities planned for families to enjoy the Chinese holiday. RSVP and see more event details.



Queens Events

Lunar New Year Parade and Reception

Festivities for the Lunar New Year will start at the historic St. George’s Church with a reception held by the Greater Flushings Chamber of Commerce on February 9th. The reception will be from 9:30 am until 10:30 and will be showcasing performances by local artists and organizations, a prize raffle, and local refreshments. After the reception, head over to Union St and 37th Ave for the parade that starts around 11 am.



Chinese New Year Temple Bazaar

The Chinese New Year Temple Bazaar will take place on February 17 at the Flushings town hall. Temple fairs are a popular tradition for the Lunar New Year going back centuries. The fair will have a variety of performances, art-making, and food to celebrate the new year. This family-friendly event will take place in two timed entry sessions at 11 am and 2 pm. You will need your $5 ticket to participate so make sure you snag your tickets for this event before they sell out. Follow the link below the picture to purchase tickets.



Interesting fact: New York City is home to the highest concentration of Chinese people in the Western Hemisphere. Manhattan’s Chinatown is known to be one of the oldest Chinese communities in the United States.

See more on the Chinese New Year Origins and Traditions


Kottu House


Exploring New York highlights cool spots around the city that are worth checking out. What’s your favorite place to grab some grub? Let us know in the comments.

Kottu House is a cozy spot to pop in on Broome St. in the Lower East Side if you need a quick but delicious bite. We went on a Tuesday night around 6pm - there was no one else in the restaurant at the time, although they were fielding online orders. This was my first time having Sri Lankan food, and while I can’t attest to its authenticity, I can say that the dish I ordered was delicious (and not to spicy thanks to the “extra mild” option). We loved that the menu had more vegetarian & pescatarian options than meat dishes and that dinner was served in a cardboard carton which made taking leftovers a breeze.





Recommendations: We had the lentil patties to start with some really delicious mint hibiscus tea. I had the Sneaky Pineapple for my main which was a little sweet and a lot of yum. Check at their menu, which offers lots of vegetarian options + some gluten free.

Cost: Mains are $10 - $12 while small plates or $6 - 9.

Where: 250 Broome St. (between Orchard and Ludlow) New York, NY 10002 (about a 30 min subway ride from Our Place, or 25 minutes on a bike)




BenYam - an Ethiopian Restaurant in Harlem


Exploring New York highlights cool spots around the city that are worth checking out. What’s your favorite fork-free restaurant? Let us know in the comments.



BenYam is a small family-run Ethiopian restaurant located in Harlem - we took the subway up on a Wednesday night to check it out. This is not a place to go for a quick bite; one of the wonderful things about it is that the staff is not rushed and neither are you. Take your time, chat with your friends, enjoy the food.





The woman who took our order & the man who brought our food were extra friendly, checking back to make sure that we liked each dish and bringing us extra injera. Injera is a spongy, pancake like bread that you use to pick up & eat the food. No forks!! And the food is delicious - if you’re looking for a good place to give Ethiopian food a try, go to BenYam.

Recommendations: The honey wine is sweet & scrumptious. We ordered the Meat / Veg Combo for 2 which came with doro wot, beg alicha, siga wot, gomen, and mesir. Looking for vegetarian options? BenYam has plenty! Check at their menu for a detailed description of each dish.

Cost: The combo for 2 cost $30, single dishes will run you $16 - $18. Go during happy hour to get great deals on honey wine & sangria.

Where: 2795 Frederick Douglas Blvd (between 148th & 149th) Harlem, NY 10039 - about an hour train ride from Our Place