Published in the New York Family Magazine on Feb 19, 2020
Central Park is my favorite place to enjoy a relaxing time with my husband and our baby boy. For a while, I forget we are in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world and just breathe in the fresh scents of nature. The best part about it all is that there is always plenty of fun things to do with the kids in Central Park.
The area from 59th Street to 110th Street between 5th Avenue and Central Park West is the largest green space in New York and the preferred park for New York families to spend quality time with the children all year round. Here you can find all kinds of fun family-friendly activities starting with these must-see spots we have rounded up for you.
It’s a separated small park inspired by Egyptian Art. Just north of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the playground offers climbing pyramids, an obelisk, and sundial. Think of it as an Indiana Joans theme park with pyramid-shaped climbers, slides and tunnels linked by solid bridges. New wooden climbers fit for older children who love adventures. For 1 to 3 year-olds, the lot has an obelisk-shaped construction set in a sandbox.
Located on the West side of the Park between the 66th and 79th Street, the Ramble is a representation of nature. It’s great for hiking with the children, enjoying the greenery and rustic bridges. That particular space is best for birdwatching, so bring your binoculars and start exploring.
Central Park is the most visited urban park in the United States, with an estimated 38 million visitors annually, and one of the most filmed locations in the world. The exact location? The corner of the Plaza Hotel, and Fifth Avenue. You’ll know it when you see it, it’s probably the most photographed spot in the Park. The Pond and Hallett Nature Sanctuary is where nature meets the concrete jungle and you can catch the full beauty of New York. It’s the perfect spot for a family pic and hiking for the little ones. The slight elevation and rocks make it fun for them to climb and have fun.
The rink is open for ice skating from late October to early April. While in the warm seasons from late May to September, it is transformed into Victorian Gardens, an amusement park for children. All year long, you can find something fun to do in the southern corner of the Park. Attractions, music, playgrounds, and quick-bite pop-ups are there to entertain you and your family all day long.
The Central Park reservoir stretches from 86th to 96th Streets and is the most enjoyable for spring strolls when the pink “Yoshino” cherry trees are blooming. Take out the bikes when the cold winter ends and welcome the new season.
*Tip: Circling around the reservoir with the stroller is my favorite part of the day when I can be alone with my thoughts while the baby is sleeping. Try it!
This 15-acre meadow on the southwestern section of the Park from 66th to 69th streets is the most popular picnic place. Sheep Meadow has a long history as a gathering place for large-scale demonstrations, political movements, festivals, rallies, concerts, and protests. It’s symbolic to the city and great for the community. Want a cheap spot for your children’s celebration? Use the Sheep Meadow for free! So many families organize small gatherings in different sections of the meadow.
The official name of this vintage carousel located near East 65th Street is called the Michael Friedsam Memorial Carousel. Interestingly, the original late-nineteenth-century carousel was powered by a horse under its platform, signaled to start and stop by the operator tapping his foot. Today, it’s a modernized attraction with hand-carved horses, jumpers, standers, and two chariots.
The pedestrian esplanade in Central Park leads to Bethesda Fountain, bronze, eight-foot statue of a female angel. Although the architectural beauty of the fountain and the terrace might not be the most exciting thing for your kid, the street performers along the Mall will surely catch their attention. Musicians, dancers, painters, puppeteers, soap balloons will make your short walk a journey between different artistic worlds. Also, make sure to check the Naumburg Bandshell programming for all the free summer performances.
As part of a whole system of other zoos and one aquarium managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) the Central Park Zoo offers children’s educational programs. Zoo staffers teach them about the restoration of endangered species, and how to preserve nature. Besides, it provides volunteer programs for the whole family to feel part of the community.
If you enter the Park from East 76th Street, you’ll find yourself in Wonderland! This playground is featured with a whimsical water spray fountain starring characters from Alice in Wonderland. Use the occasion to introduce your children to the classic book and fall into the rabbit hole of fun and joy! Play stations include colorful pipe frame climbers and swings geared toward 1 to 3 year-olds.
Best known as the host of Shakespeare in the Park programs in the summer time is an artistic place for open-air performances your children will enjoy. The shows are viral, so be sure to book your ticket well in advance. The scenery view of the Belvedere Castle in the distance adds to your magical experience whatever venue you choose. Enjoy!
The Park also has sports facilities, including the North Meadow Recreation Center, basketball courts, baseball fields, and soccer fields. In addition, there are 21 children’s playgrounds, as well as 6.1 miles of bike lanes.
Although the Park may appear completely natural, the truth is it was entirely landscaped during the second half of the nineteenth century. By design, it is a space that satisfies the human need for contact with nature in the big city. Landscapers and architects build seven lakes and ponds that have been connected to a shared damming system of natural seeps and flows. The wooded sections were planted with trees that best accommodate local animals and ensure the perfect mix of flora and fauna.