Michelle Smith, founder and designer of MILLY, gives us a peek into a few of her favorite (hidden) places in New York’s Central Park…

If there’s one thing I love about living on the Upper East Side, it’s Central Park. I always say I could be dropped blindfolded anywhere in the park and I’ll find my way out. Sure, we uptowners may not have the hottest restaurants opening on every corner, or the coolest A-List hangouts during fashion week. But downtown can have all that, because we have Central Park.

Here are my favorite hidden treasures in the park. Next time you’re uptown, perhaps you’ll explore one! (From left to right in slideshow)

1. Turtle Pond: Did you know there is a place in Central Park filled with turtles? A great place to slow down really be in the moment—at a turtle’s pace. (Between 79th and 80th St., East Side)

2. Belvedere Castle: Originally designed in 1865 as a backdrop with great views but without a true purpose, it was eventually converted into the Henry Luce Nature Observatory. Glorious views—perfect for selfies with your besties.

3. Shakespeare Garden: A designated “quiet zone,”stop and literally smell the English roses, or settle in with a good book on warmer days. The garden features the plants and flowers mentioned in Shakespeare’s works, as well as some he had planted in his own garden at Stratford Upon Avon, all labeled with plaques so you can find your way. As legend goes, a giant mulberry tree was supposedly planted there by Shakespeare himself in the 1600s. (Between 79th and 80th St, West Side)

4. The Ramble: I love getting happily lost in this lush area - 38 acres of winding path between 73rd and 78th streets. It’s the only place in New York that makes me feel like I’m on a nature hike, with a babbling brook, tons of plant life and towering trees like oaks and sycamores. When I need to get back in touch with nature, I head over to the Ramble ASAP.

5. Wollman Rink: Not exactly secret, but worth noting! I love taking my kids ice-skating here on Sunday mornings in the winter. With the sun reflecting off the ice, being here feels like a trip to a ski resort (if you use your imagination). Brunch at the food hall in the Plaza Hotel caps off a wonderful weekend morning. (at 59th St.)

6. Conservatory Water: The perfect springtime family activity, we love operating a little sailboat around this beautiful pond. For lunch, nothing beats the Boathouse next door. Fun fact: writer E.B. White set the boat scene in children’s classic “Start Little” here. It was recreated in the 1999 movie! (at 74th St., East Side)

Check out more of my favorite spots in my guide to the Upper East Side, and don’t forget to stock up on some of my designer knit sweaters, holiday necessities like cocktail dresses and of course, hostess gifts. My new stationery collaboration, MILLY for Dempsey & Carroll makes a great gift to bring along to your next soiree! 

10 months ago

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