sheep meadow in central park complete guide | Better Together Here
NYC,  NYC Travel Tips,  Things to Do in NYC

Sheep Meadow in Central Park NYC: A Complete Guide

Sheep Meadow in Central Park is arguably one of the best parts of NYC’s iconic park. The 15-acre meadow boasts wide open green space, something at a true premium in New York City.

Head here on any given warm afternoon and you’ll find thousands of New Yorkers (and tourists) finding peace and relaxation with family and friends.

I personally LOVE Sheep Meadow and want to give you a complete guide for what you can do here, when it’s open, where bathrooms are, and a few local secrets to best enjoy your time at Sheep Meadow

Here’s what we will cover about Sheep Meadow:

Let’s get into it. πŸ‘‡

Quick Sheep Meadow History & Background

historical picture of sheep in sheep meadow | Better Together Here
Original Photo (I own no rights)

Like most things in New York City, Sheep Meadow has a rich history of creative thinking, long-term planning, and, of course, the displacement of minority groups.

In the late 1850s, Central Park was commissioned to be built after a winner was chosen from the design competition. That design had to include a “parade ground”, which is ultimately how Sheep Meadow came to be.

The vast open space was actually one of the most expensive aspects of the park!

In its early years, Sheep Meadow was often referred to as “the Commons” or “the Green”. And in that time, using the grass for recreational endeavors was actually not allowed. It was meant just for ‘scenic enjoyment’.

Over time, lawn and recreational activity rules were removed as more and more residents needed green space in a quickly growing city.

Fast forward to the present day and Sheep Meadow has been home to massive public demonstrations (including Vietnam War protests), festivals, and even concerts.

Past concerts in Sheep Meadow include names like Barbra Streisand, James Taylor, the New York Philharmonic, and Jefferson Starship.

Why Is It Called Sheep Meadow?

sheep meadow audio guide sign | Better Together Here

In 1864, around 200 sheep were added to the green space. The sheep helped with trimming the grass and fertilizing the lawn. Sheep Meadow derives its name from those early days when sheep grazed the lawns.

Those sheep were housed in a building just east of Sheep Meadow, in what is now the Tavern on the Green restaurant.

The sheep were a central part of this green space for many decades!

Related Reading: Central Park Audio Guide

Are There Sheep in Sheep Meadow?

As of today, there are no sheep in Sheep Meadow. There were sheep from about 1864-1934 though.

The sheep were removed in 1934 to make way for a restaurant, Tavern on the Green (which is still open today)!

Now that we’ve covered a very brief history of Sheep Meadow, let’s dive into everything you need to know about it today. πŸ‘‡

Where is Sheep Meadow?

Sheep Meadow is located in the southern third of Central Park. It runs from roughly 66th to 69th streets, essentially straight up from 7th Avenue.

The circled area below shows where Sheep Meadow is located in Central Park

a map showing where sheep meadow is located in central park | Better Together Here

How to Get to Sheep Meadow

Getting to Sheep Meadow is pretty straightforward, no matter where you’re coming from! Sheep Meadow is more to the West or “left” side of the park, so make sure you are heading on the West end of Central Park if you’re navigating with a maps app.

Maximize your time in NYC by demystifying the art of navigating the subway, taxis, walking, and biking around the Big Apple!

Free Guide to Getting Around NYC πŸ—½

Here is how to get there via 5 different types of transportation.

Bus

The route with the least walking is to take the M20 bus and get off at the Central Park West & 63rd St stop. From there, you would just walk northeast for about 3-5 minutes to Sheep Meadow.

Subway

The two closest subway stops to Sheep Meadow are:

  1. 66 St – Lincoln Center: The 1 & 2 trains run on this line
    • From this stop, you’ll walk slightly northeast toward Sheep Meadow for about 5-8 minutes
  2. 72nd St: You want the 72nd street stop that is part of the A, B, & C lines
    • From this stop, you’ll walk southeast toward Sheep Meadow for about 3-5 minutes

For simplicity’s sake, you can set your destination in Google Maps (or another maps app) to Tavern on the Green to make sure you end up on the west side of Sheep Meadow.

Related Reading: How to Use the NYC Subway

Walking

This will all depend on where you’re coming from, but you can actually walk from the south entrance of the park to Sheep Meadow in about 10 minutes or less!

The first roughly 9 minutes of the video below show the best route to walk from the south end of Central Park to Sheep Meadow (just veer left instead of going into the Literary Walk/The Mall). See my full narrated Central Park walk here.

Biking

If you’re taking your own or a rented bike, your best bet would be to ride up Central Park West and then enter the park by Tavern on the Green! From there, you’re just a few hundred yards from Sheep Meadow!

Car

I won’t even talk about parking because I don’t have the slightest clue, sorry!

But for a taxi or Lyft/Uber, I would tell them to take you to Tavern on the Green. Once you’re there, you’re just a few hundred yards from Sheep Meadow!

What Can You Do in Sheep Meadow?

working with a view of skyline from sheep meadow in nyc | Better Together Here

If you’re wondering what you can do in Sheep Meadow, the options are basically endless. What would you most prefer to do in a nice, open green space in the middle of a bustling city?!

Do you wanna read a book or Kindle? You can do that βœ…

Do you wanna have a picnic? You can do that βœ… (PS- Check out all the best Central Park picnic spots here)

Do you wanna play Spikeball with friends? You can do that βœ…

Do you wanna have all your friends together for a birthday party? You can do that βœ…

Do you wanna work on homework? You can do that βœ…

Do you wanna take a nap? You can do that βœ…

Do you wanna sunbathe? You can do that βœ…

Do you wanna toss a frisbee around? You can do that βœ…

Do you wanna catch up with an old friend? You can do that βœ…

Do you wanna take a first date here? You can do that βœ… (PS- Check out our Central Park Romantic Date Ideas here)

Do you wanna BBQ some food? You cannot do that 🚫

This leads us to the next section below.

What Isn’t Allowed in Sheep Meadow?

Alright, New York is full of rules, laws, and unspoken dos & don’ts. Whether people follow those rules is a completely different story…

Here is a list of things that aren’t allowed in Sheep Meadow (technically speaking):

  • BBQs or open flames of any kind (this is a rule that is very strictly enforced)
  • Loudspeakers or music amplifiers (people still do it)
  • Organized sports or recreational events (this is enforced as well, like if you tried to hold a competitive sporting event)
  • Alcohol (No one follows this rule, just don’t be stupid about it… generally as long as it’s not obvious what you’re drinking you’re in the clear. I love a Brumate for this reason!)
  • Smoking of any kind (again, basically no one follows this rule)
  • Bike riding or other vehicles (yeah, don’t do this)
  • Glass containers (please just don’t, or at least don’t break it)
  • Dogs (more on that below)

As you can see, there are many rules in Sheep Meadow… And few of them are followed. My experience at Sheep Meadow is that if you’re being respectful of the people and space around you, there likely won’t be any issues.

Are Dogs Allowed in Sheep Meadow?

I love dogs, much more than the average person. I have two dogs, I host a dog podcast, and I worked at a dog startup for many years… I love dogs!

With that being said, dogs are technically not allowed in Sheep Meadow. There are only a few places in the entire massive park where that’s the case.

Personally, I understand the rule (mainly dog poop & urine) and think it’s better to comply with this one.

Do people bring dogs to Sheep Meadow? Yes, people do. But I don’t… mostly because I want to be able to relax when I’m there! πŸ˜‰

If you’re going to bring your dog into Sheep Meadow, for the love of all things wonderful just pick up after your dog. Seriously!

Can You Buy Food and Drinks in Sheep Meadow?

eating pizza for a picnic in sheep meadow in central park | Better Together Here

While there isn’t technically anywhere to buy food and drinks in Sheep Meadow, there are some places nearby.

You can head to the Le Pain Quotidien that’s just north of Sheep Meadow. They offer a wide range of coffees & teas, pastries, sandwiches, and other bakery-style foods.

There are also drink and snack vendors throughout Central Park, many of which set up shop right near Sheep Meadow on busy days. Most of those will sell water, Gatorade, popsicles, pretzels, and other cart-style foods.

And if you’re lucky, you may be in Sheep Meadow on the same day as The Mojito Man. You’ll hear him… “MOJITO, MOJITO, MOJITO… WHITE CLAWS, WHITE CLAWS, MOJITO!”

Where Are the Closest Bathrooms to Sheep Meadow? + Drinking Fountains

There are 3 relatively close bathrooms to Sheep Meadow (links open a Google Maps listing):

  1. Right next to Tavern on the Green
  2. Right next to Le Pain Quotidien
  3. Part of Bethesda Terrace & Fountain

Here’s a map with the 3 closest bathrooms to Sheep Meadow. And on the map, you can also see 2 close drinking fountains, one at the Southwest corner of Sheep Meadow and the other near the Bethesda Terrace bathrooms!

map of bathrooms near sheep meadow in central park | Better Together Here

On a really busy Sheep Meadow day, most of them will have a line. I would say that the Tavern on the Green bathroom is usually the busiest since it’s very close to the most popular parts of Sheep Meadow.

The bathrooms that are part of Bethesda Terrace & Fountain have the most stalls so you usually deal with fewer lines.

All of them will be pretty gross, so just be prepared for that.

What Time Does Sheep Meadow Open & Close Each Day?

sheep meadow closing around sunset | Better Together Here

When Sheep Meadow is open for the season, it opens at around 11 am each day and closes around sunset/dusk.

There is some variance to this since the gates are manually opened and closed each day. Typically about 20-30 minutes before sunset, Central Park workers will come around letting people know that Sheep Meadow is closing.

Be sure to head out once that happens as I’ve seen people be forced to walk to opposite exits since the one they’re closest to gets closed first!

Note: Sometimes Sheep Meadow will be closed to let the lawn rest, if there has been a lot of rain, etc.

Does Sheep Meadow Close in the Winter?

Every year Sheep Meadow closes for the winter to let the lawn rest. It will depend on the weather, but it’s usually around October or so.

As of November 8, 2023, Sheep Meadow is officially closed for the season.

When Does Sheep Meadow Open in the Spring?

Sheep Meadow usually opens back up for the spring season once the weather gets warmer.

In 2023, Sheep Meadow opened up around the end of March!

Where Are the Best Spots in Sheep Meadow?

sheep meadow in central park with people sunbathing | Better Together Here

If you’re looking for the best spots in Sheep Meadow, the answer is that it depends!

It mostly depends on what you’re wanting to do! For example…

If you want to sunbathe, the best spot is in the middle of the meadow where there isn’t any shade.

If you want to take a nap without getting sunburned, the best spot is in some shade under a tree.

If you want to have space to play frisbee, the best spot is wherever the fewest people are.

Generally speaking, finding a nice shaded tree area is coveted… So that’s probably the best spot!

Maximize your time in NYC by demystifying the art of navigating the subway, taxis, walking, and biking around the Big Apple!

Free Guide to Getting Around NYC πŸ—½

Sheep Meadow Recap

view of people enjoying sheep meadow on a sunny day | Better Together Here

Sheep Meadow in Central Park is arguably one of the most enjoyable parts of the famous park, and certainly has some amazing views!

Sheep Meadow is a great place for picnics, get-togethers with friends, napping on a cool day, reading a book, playing Spikeball, or just relaxing!

Hopefully this guide answered all your questions about one of the most popular spots in Central Park.

What’s your favorite part about Sheep Meadow? Tell us in the comments.

PS- Looking for something to do after a day at Sheep Meadow? Check out some fun NYC bars!

*This post may contain affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.

As long-time lovers of New York City we made the plunge to move across the country to NYC in early 2021... with our 3 dogs at the time (RIP Buddy). We consider ourself experts in exploring new restaurants, finding the best-rated bars, and activities actually worth doing. Plus, my Google Maps organizational skills are 2nd to none. 😜

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