When people think of NYC, certain things always come to mind. The Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and, of course, Central Park. Stretching over 843 acres and bordered by Harlem at the north end and Midtown at the south, Central Park is an ecosystem all its own. 

During the summer, Central Park is at its most robust. From live music to films, theatre to live wild animals, here are Bracha New York's must-do's this summer in Central Park. 

1. Shakespeare in the Park
This summer, the world-renowned free theatre series launches its season with the Shakespearean fairytale Cymbaline. Led by Tony Award-winning director Daniel Sullivan and starring Tony nominee Lily Rabe and Hamish Linklater, the play, which runs now until August 23, centers around a princess whose love is tested when her father banishes her soulmate. September 4-7, the Public Works program will debut its musical adaptation of The Odyssey. Both shows are completely free and open to the public. Tickets are available first come, first serve on the day of and through an online lottery

2. Central Park Zoo
The Central Park Zoo is a classic attraction for families and adults alike. With a snow leopard, a grizzly bear, and other assortments of wild and farm animals in residence, the zoo holds its own despite its smaller size. The zoo also hosts regular events, like its Pajama Party at the Zoo! night, that will make you the ultimate superhero in your kids' eyes. 

3. Lunch at The Loeb Boathouse
First erected as an actual boathouse in 1872 and rebuilt in the 1950's as the restaurant that it is today, The Loeb Boathouse is a must-do at least once in the city. Indulge in a lakeside lunch of sauteed sea scallops with nappa cabbage or Berkshire prosciutto and buratta or check out the restaurant's decadent brunch selection. For a truly romantic afternoon, consider renting a boat and paddling out to the center of the lake.

4. Fame at the Central Park Conservancy Film Festival
This year, to celebrate the 35th year of the conservancy's existence, the Central Park Conservancy Film Festival will be screening films solely from 1980. Bring a blanket, picnic, and friends and revel in all the shiny leggings, sweatbands, and intricate dance sequences from the classic musical Fame. Gates open at 6:30 with films beginning at 8 pm. Other films include Airplane!The Blues Brothers, and Raging Bull.

5. City Parks Foundation's SummerStage
Each summer, the City Parks Foundation hosts the city's largest free performing arts festival. With shows located around the city at various parks and institutions, the festival is notorious for bringing in top talent and many of its largest shows are performed at Rumsey Playfield within Central Park. This summer's lineup includes a star-studded performance of The Wiz, featuring many of the original cast and co-hosted by Phylicia Rashad, notably a munchkin in the original production 40 years ago. Other performances include the return of Grammy Award nominee Jazmine Sullivan, back after an eight year hiatus, Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead, and Lake Street Dive of Coen brothers' film Inside Llewyn Davis fame. 

Know of any not to be missed events this summer in Central Park? Let us know in the comments below!

Image courtesy of CentralPark.com.