Central Park is a amazing park filled with activities especially for kids! We live right by the park and have spent countless days enjoying it. Our whole family loves Central Park and its easily one of our favorite spots in New York and one of the main reasons we live uptown!
If you only have a day or a few hours to spend, head to The Mall consisting of towering rows of beautiful American Elm trees (remember Kramer vs. Kramer?) and walk towards the Bethesda Terrace leading up to the Lake. This is the heart of Central Park and the Lake with views unparalleled! Here you also find the historic Loeb Boathouse where you can both eat and rent boats you see in the Lake.
From here you have several options, if you head west you will reach the “Imagine” mosaic in Strawberry Fields. A tribute to the Beatles and John Lennon, close to where he was shot. If you head east, you will reach the beautiful Conservatory Water with a Le Pain Quotidien café where you can rent model sailboats popular with kids. It’s also here you find both the Alice in Wonderland statue and the Hans Christian Andersen statue. Kids of all ages love to climb them both!
A lot of people visiting Central Park rent bicycles to get around, but seeing the whole park in one day is not really the point and hard to do. Unless you are looking to exercise with your bike on the roads, you can’t ride your bike on most pathways. Central Park is best accessible and experienced by foot. Just walking along this scenic and awe aspiring park is enough in itself! You also have the Museum Mile next to the park to the east and a kids favorite, the American Museum Of Natural History to the west, so you can combine the park with a museum visit.
There are over 20 playgrounds in Central Park of different sizes suitable for different ages. During the summer months, most of them have access to water and kids enjoy cooling off running around through the fountains! Bring a towel and swimwear to avoid soaking wet clothes! ? Access this map for a quick overview over the playgrounds with age recommendations.
CENTRAL PARK ZOO
In the south east area of the park you find the Central Park Zoo. The park has Snow Leopards, Snow Monkeys, Grizzly Bears, Polar Bears, Red Pandas, Japanese Macaques, Sea Lions, Seals, Lemurs, Tamarins and Penguins made famous by the Madagascar movies. There is also the Tisch Children’s Zoo combination where children can interact and feed goats, cows, sheep and various other animals. I recommend a visit if your kids enjoy the zoo experience! For further information visit the Central Park Zoo website.
In the southern center part of the park, you find the Friedsam Memorial Carousel from 1871 with near life size horses. The carousel is open from April to October and very popular with kids!
The recently refurbished Belvedere Castle from 1869, is a miniature castle offering sweeping views of the Great Lawn, the Ramble, Turtle Pond and the city skyline surrounding Central Park. Its a cool structure for kids and is also a fun climb to the castle itself!
LASKER POOL – SWIMMING & ICE SKATING
Towards the north end of Central Park you find the Lasker Pool, offering free public swimming seven days a week in a Olympic sized pool. Children and adults of all ages can learn swimming basics with free lessons. During the winter season the pool turns into a rink for ice skating and hockey!
AMUSEMENT PARK & ICE SKATING AT WOLLMAN RINK
Victorian Gardens amusement park at Wollman Rink in the south east end, is a amusement park open from May 25th to September 8th. During the winter season, the rink transforms to another popular activity in the park, ice skating! You can visit their website for more information.
SWEDISH COTTAGE MARIONETTE THEATRE
Arriving from Sweden in 1876, the cottage is home to a working marionette theater with handmade marionettes and beautiful sets. The oldest and one of the last in the United States!
Bring your footballs, kites and softballs! Central Park is filled with several areas for baseball, basketball. football, soccer, tennis – the list is long! Check out this guide for your specific interest.