After a 15-month restoration project, Belvedere Castle in Central Park will finally reopen to the public on June 28, and we’ve got the latest scoop. We previewed Belvedere Castle to find out all about the renovations and the purpose of this grand castle for NYC families. Much of the work focused on repairs of walls, stonework, and pavilions to maintain the strong foundational structure for visitors, as well as the installment of environmentally-friendly and sustainable mechanical, waterproofing, and drainage systems. But the Central Park Conservancy also wanted to recreate aspects of the Belvedere’s historic design to provide families with that feeling of royalty, connect the castle to its historic roots, and glorify its stellar views. Some of these recreated designs include the decorative wood tower that was part of the pavilion 150 years ago, the bluestone pavers in a checkered design, and clear pane glass windows to restore the open-air view.
During our preview visit, we noted the best opportunities for family fun at the Belvedere. First, when you visit Belvedere Castle with your family this summer, be sure to come twice: once during the day and once at night, because the two experiences are entirely different with the new lighting. Central Park Conservancy installed lighting so that the Belvedere Castle shines bright at night, and the view is breath-taking from across Turtle Pond.
Unfortunately, our preview was at 9 am, so we didn’t get to see the illuminated Belvedere. But check out this intricate architecture and recently restored, historic checkered design of the bluestone pavers.
Also, be mindful of the spiral staircases inside the castle. While the spiral staircase design is true to the castle’s aesthetic, kids might get very excited when they see these fascinating stairs, and they’re not the easiest to walk up or down. Especially if you happen to visit on a rainy day, when the stairs are slippery, we’d recommend holding your little one’s hand on the stairs. That being said, the experience of walking up the spiral staircase to emerge onto a terrace with a view of the Manhattan skyline is like no other— you really do feel like royalty! As Belvedere means “beautiful view” in Italian, you are sure to appreciate the view from inside this castle, overlooking the Great Lawn, Turtle Pond, and Delacorte Theater. As for the rest of the castle, it’s pretty safe, but if you have young kids, be careful when you’re on the terraces, as the terrace walls are not that high.
We’re behind the castle walls, glancing out the new, clear pane glass windows!
There are also upcoming tours during the summer of the Belvedere and surrounding areas that families will love. To learn about the history of Belvedere Castle and its preservation over the years, embark on The Belvedere: Beautiful View Tour. Central Park Conservancy also hosts Discovery Walks for Families: Turtle Pond to learn about the turtle species, the Pond’s history, and how the Conservancy keeps the ecosystem healthy. There are plenty of interactive activities for kids!
We love this view from up high in the Belvedere! You develop such an appreciation for the nature in Central Park when you observe its beauty from up here.
The Belvedere has survived a long history from when it first opened to the public in 1872. Since then, it’s been converted to a working building for the U.S. Weather Bureau and fallen victim to vandalism, but it’s also been featured in postcards, fought for by citizen protests, used for public concerts and festivals, and saved by the Central Park Conservancy. And the story of the Belvedere is not over yet: the next phase of the project involves increasing accessibility by making an accessible route to the castle that offers viewing for more visitors. The Belvedere Castle is a part of history, but it’s also here, in the present, because of all of the people along the way who cared for the beautiful structure. Let’s show our care and support for the Belvedere this summer as it reopens to the public. The Belvedere spans all generations — it’s exciting for kids and adults alike, which makes it the perfect place for families. Bring your family to Belvedere Castle for a unique NYC experience and a memorable day at Central Park.