Central Park with Kids: Things to Do

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Central Park is one of the best attractions for kids in NYC. They will definitely love it.

Tips
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Download a map on your phone (Google Maps offer this option) so you don’t get lost! The park is pretty big.
List of top things to do in Central Park with kids
Carousel Zoo Ice Skating
Summer Amusement Park Playgrounds Bethesda Terrace
Boating Model Boat Sailing Marionette Theatre
Sheep Meadow  Storytelling Belvedere Castle
Strawberry Fields Biking Frisbee / Fly a kyte

Central Park Carousel
Central Park Carousel
Source of image: centralparknyc.org

Location: Mid-Park at 65th St. View in Map.

Fee: $3 per person per ride. Cash only.

Hours (weather permitting): April-October 10am-6pm daily. November-March: 10am-4:30pm only on weekends.

Central Park Zoo

Website

Location: 64th St. & 5th Ave. View in Map.

A small and nice zoo. Keep in mind that it’s a zoo inside the park, so it can’t be so big.

Central Park Zoo Map
Central Park Zoo Map
TICKETS Adults Child* Senior
General Admission $12 $7 $9

Total Experience:

Main Zoo, Tisch Children’s Zoo & 4D Theater

$18 $13 $15

* Free for 2 & under.

Weekday Hours: 10am-5pm (4:30pm last entry) – Weekends & Holidays: 10am-5:30pm (5:00pm last entry).

Zoo Tips:

  • Don’t go with high expectations.
  • Buying tickets online here is a bit cheaper.
  • Bring food with you (the food there is expensive).
  • Weekdays are less crowded than weekends.
  • Bring some food (bread, some crackers) to feed some of the animals.

Central Park Playgrounds
Heckscher Playground Central Park
Heckscher Playground. Source of image: centralparknyc.org

There are 21 playgrounds in Central Park. You can check them all here.

The favorite ones for most people:

Heckscher Playground:

  • The largest, oldest and most popular playground in the park.
  • Located at 7th Avenue, between 59th & 65th Streets. Close to the carousel.

Ancient Playground:

  • Located on the east side of the park, on 85th St. right off of 5th Ave.

Billy Johnson Playground:

  • Adventure-style playground.
  • Located at 67th St. & 5th Ave.

East 110 Playground:

  • Aimed at school-age children.
  • Located across from the Harlem Meer on 110th St. between Lenox & 5th Ave.

Ice Skating at Wollman Rink
Central Park Ice Skating Wollman Rink NYC
Image: Tomas Fano

Season: end of October until beginning of April. A very fun activity to do with kids!

Location: east side of the park between 62nd & 63rd St. View in Map.

DAYS HOURS
Monday – Tuesday 10am – 2:30pm
Wednesday – Thursday 10am – 10pm
Friday – Saturday 10am – 11pm
Sunday 10am – 9pm

Check the website the day you wanna go because they may close earlier a few days (mainly on weekdays).

RATES (CASH ONLY) Adults Youth (11 & under) Seniors
Monday – Thursday $12 $6 $5
Friday – Sunday & Holidays $19 $6 $9

Skate Rentals: $9 (tax incl.) – Spectator: $5

New Yorker Tip: Bring your own lock so you don’t have to pay $5 for lock rental!

Victorian Gardens Amusement Park
Victorian Gardens Amusement Park in Central Park
Photo: jim.henderson

Website

Season: June to September.

Location: at Wollman Rink in Central Park. View in Map.

The ice skating rink is closed in the summer, leaving the space to this amusement park for families with various games, interactive shows and more.

Ages: 2-7.

DAYS HOURS
Monday – Thursday 11am – 7pm
Friday 11am – 8pm
Saturday 10am – 9pm
Sunday 10am – 8pm
TICKETS Pay As You Go Unlimited Rides
Weekdays

Park Admission $8

Tickets: $1

Rides: 4 tickets; Games: 4 tickets

$23

(Park Admission $8 +

Unlimited Ride Wristband* $15)

Weekends & Holidays

Park Admission $9

Tickets: $1

Rides: 4 tickets; Games: 4 tickets

$26

(Park Admission $9 +

Unlimited Ride Wristband* $17)

*Wristbands do not include game play

Sometimes, there are ticket discounts through Groupon!

Check here if there are any entertainment shows (magic, circus, etc.) the day you’re going.

Sheep Meadow

Sheep Meadow in Central Park

Location: west side of the park between 65th & 69th Streets. View in Map.

Season: May to mid-October (closed in winter).

Hours: daily at 11am.

Large open grassy field with nice views of some of the New York skyline.

  • Perfect spot for a picnic when the weather is nice.
  • Great spot to go with kids.
  • Things that your kids can do here: run, fly a kite, play different games (frisbee, soccer, etc).

Tips: bring a blanket, sunscreen, you can buy food at the Whole Foods located in Columbus Circle, you’ll find a Le Pain Quotidien at the north side of this field, where you’ll also find the restrooms.

Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre: Puppet Shows
Hansel and Gretel's Halloween Adventure at Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre in Central Park
Hansel and Gretel’s Halloween Adventure

Location: west side at 79th St. View in Map.

Enjoy with your kids the marionette shows based on children’s classics, such as Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and others.

Tickets: $7-20 (varies per show).

Click here to view schedule and buy tickets.

Boating on the Lake

The Lake boating in Central Park

Location: Loeb Boathouse on the east side. Easily located walking from East 72nd St. & 5th Ave. View in Map.

Great family activity during Spring and Summer. You can spot swans and ducks.

Season: April to November.

Hours: 10am-6:30pm daily (last boat rentals at 5:30pm). Weather permitting.

Types of Boats: Rowboats (up to 4 people), nine-foot Kayaks.

Fees: $15 first hour, additional $4 for every extra 15 minutes. CASH ONLY!

$20 cash deposit required per boat that will be refunded after you return the boat.

Bethesda Terrace & Fountain

Bethesda Terrace in Central Park NYC

Location: middle of the park on 72nd St. Very popular spot. View in Map.

  • Beautiful especially in the spring and fall, as seen in many movies!
  • The area to rent boats or canoes is nearby.
  • You’ll usually see street performers and giant bubbles that will entertain your kids.
  • Some kids like to sit close to the lake (in a safe spot) to see all the boats.

Model Boat Racing at Conservatory Water
Conservatory Water Central Park NYC
Image: Ingfbruno

Location: east side of the park near 72nd St. & 5th Ave. View in Map.

The model boats (whether you have a radio powered sailboat, or a wind-powered sloop) are raced and displayed at Conservatory Water.

Season: April to October (can be extended to November depending on the weather).

Racing: every Saturday from 10am-1pm, April – October.

  • This pond is a favorite choice of filmmakers. This event has appeared in popular tv shows and movies such as Sex and the City, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Mirror Has Two Faces, and Stuart Little.
  • You don’t need a boat to enjoy the event. You can just sit there and watch.
  • Snaks and Drinks: there’s a Le Pain Quotidien nearby!

Rentals: $11 for 30 minutes.

Hours for rentals:

  • Monday to Thursday 11am – 5pm
  • Friday 11am – 7pm
  • Saturday 1pm – 7pm
  • Sunday 10am – 6pm

Residents of the city who wish to race their own boat frequently, may apply for a permit to store their boat in the park’s secure Kerbs Boathouse during the week.

The Hans Christian Andersen Storytelling Center
The Hands Christian Andersen Storytelling Center at Conservatory Pond
Image: hcastorycenter.org

Website

Location: at the Hans Christian Andersen Statue, on the west side of Conservatory Water.

Near 72nd St. & 5th Ave. View in Map.

Season: June-September – Hours: 11am-12pm on Saturdays – Cost: Free!

Your kids might enjoy the storytelling that takes place every summer at the Conservatory Pond by a fine ensemble of storytellers. Celebrity performers like Victor Borge, Eva la Gallienne, Fanny Hurst and Celeste Holm have visited and told their favorite stories.

Other Spots you may want to visit with your kids
Strawberry Fields
Imagine John Lennon Memorial Central Park Strawberry Fields
Source of Image: centralpark.com

Location: close to the Dakota Building (where John Lennon lived and was shot) on the west side of the park on 72nd St. View in Map.

  • Busy tourist spot.
  • Most of the times you’ll see musicians playing songs from The Beatles, there’s a nice atmosphere and sometimes people sing the songs too. It may be fun for your kids.

Belvedere Castle

Belvedere Castle in Central Park NYC

Location: mid-park at 79th St. View in Map.

Hours: 10am-5pm daily.

The Italian word “Belvedere” means “beautiful view”. The castle provides great views of the park and NYC skyline.

Free but donation is recommended.

Tip for Little Kids: if you have little kids and/or strollers I don’t recommend you to go there, because there are stairs and it’s in the middle of the park. You’ll have to walk a bit until you find the place.

Bike Rentals in Central Park

You can use the Citi Bike: click here for more info. You can purchase a day pass for $12 and have unlimited 30 minutes rides for 24 hours.

Rental Bike Kiosks in Central Park:

  • At the entrance of Central Park in Columbus Circle (Broadway & 59th St.).
  • Entrance of 5th Ave & 59th St.
  • Close to the boat rentals in Mid-Park between 75th & 76th Streets.

Hope you enjoy Central Park with your kids! Please, recommend and share 🙂

@NewYorkerTips


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Jesica Levi

I'm an actress and pop singer born in Argentina. I came to NYC to pursue my dream and I feel I'm living it every day. New York is magic and you have to be open to everything, because you never know who is seating right next to you on the subway or behind you in the line of the super market. I decided to create this blog about NYC because I realized how many powerful tips would have helped me if I knew them before from someone who was living in the city! So I thought that it would be awesome to share with you some tips about New York from a New Yorker. You can read more about me at http://www.jesicalevi.com I'm going to keep updating this blog so stay tuned :)

One thought on “Central Park with Kids: Things to Do

  • August 29, 2017 at 7:20 am
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    An old-school spot with a single metal slide and two popular tire swings on the far western edge is a sweet nod to the Central Park playgrounds of yore.

    Reply

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