CENTRAL PARK

Central Park is full of delightful surprises throughout its 840 acres - some of the best playgrounds, interesting structures and gorgeous greenery. Visit the Central Park Conservancy website for maps, historical info and lots of great tips.

Also see our favorite spots in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklynthe Bronx & the country and suburbs beyond NYC plus guides to museums or outdoor adventures.

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PLAYGROUNDS

Billy Johnson Playground

This rustic playground hosts an amazing 45-foot granite slide nestled into a rocky hill, bucket and tire swings, and an amphitheater and miniature stone bridge made of natural materials like plants, stone, and wood at a child’s scale.

Heckscher Playground

Central Park’s largest playground features a shaded area with swings and slides, a large, maze-like climbers, seasonal water features, sloped turf, a large sandbox area, low monkey bars, tunnels, ramps and (our favorite) giant rocks to climb. Plus a spacious bathroom.

Face painters, musicians and giant bubble makers often congregate at the entrance.

Take a spin on nearby Wollman ice rink.

Closes at dusk.

Ancient Playground

This big playground invokes Egyptian themes with climbable pyramids, a large sand lot and a spray shower that represents Egypt’s Nile River in reference to the ancient Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art next door.  Lots of slides, tunnels and concrete bridges plus bucket, tire and strap swings are perfect for adventurous fun and imaginative play.

ATTRACTIONS

Conservatory Gardens

Enter the magnificent 1894 Vanderbilt Gate to Central Park’s only formal garden, a six-acre oasis within an oasis with European charm.

Climb onto the wisteria pergola in the Italianate Center Garden overlooking a yew hedges-bordered large lawn and 12-foot jet fountain. To the north, the French-style garden offers spectacular seasonal displays of tulips and Korean chrysanthemums and a fountain featuring the Three Dancing Maidens sculpture.

In intimate English-style South Garden, Mary and Dickon from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved children’s book The Secret Garden stand at the end of a small waterlily pool, bordered by trees, shrubs, and perennial and annual flower beds.

Friendly gardeners are often planting and happy to chat with young nature lovers.

Chess & Checkers House

Borrow a variety of classic board games (including chess and checkers) to play outdoors on one of 24 gaming tables shaded by a wooden trellis. A limited number of indoor tables are available rain or shine.

Tables and games are first come, first served.

Belvedere Castle

One of the most iconic features in Central Park, this miniature castle is located atop the huge rock outcrop known as Vista Rock, the second highest natural point in Central Park.

The whimsical structure, designed by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted in 1869, provides the highest and best views of the Park and the adjacent cityscape – plus has bathrooms, water fountains, some informational displays plus medieval-esque staircases and doorways for playing princess/knight.

The Loeb Boathouse

Weather permitting, rent classic rowboats, available April through November, 10 am until dusk. Boats are $20 per hour (cash only), $5 for each additional 15 minutes with a $20 cash deposit. Each boat holds up to 4 people. Life jackets provided.

Dine overlooking the lovely lake on a breezy. covered terrace at this elegant yet relaxed iconic restaurant (Monday – Friday: 12 pm – 4:00 pm, brunch available Saturday & Sunday, 9:30 am – 4:00 pm). Or pick up burgers, salads, soups and more to go at the Express Cafe in the back (8 am – 5pm).

Listen for the calls of many indigenous birds and look for butterflies. See other Central Park highlights.

 

Central Park Zoo

Visit sea lions, snow monkeys, red pandas, turtles, bears and other animals at the cozy Central Park Zoo.

* Most indoor areas are now open including the delightful penguins & sea birds exhibit and tropic zone. 4D Theater is closed.

* Climb, play and pet at the interactive children’s zoo across the path.

* Some food and shopping available but only accepting credit card/apple pay.

* Don’t miss the Delacorte Clock outside the zoo. The animals statues move and twirl at each quarter hour.

* Advance online ticket purchase and masks required. Consider an annual zoo membership that includes admission to the Bronx and other NYC Zoos.

Central Park Youth Basketball Clinics

Free high-energy, interactive youth basketball clinics cultivate skill development, team play, and sportsmanship both on and off the court.

Open to players of all levels. Saturdays & Sundays July 10–August 28. On-site registration each day on a first-come, first-served basis.

Ages 6–10
11:00 am–11:30 am: Check In
11:30 am–12:30 pm: Basketball Clinic

Ages 11–14
12:30 pm–1:00 pm: Check In
1:00 pm–2:30 pm: Basketball Clinic

NEARBY

Cooper Hewitt

See gorgeous historic and contemporary design is a high-tech, interactive dream for all ages.

In Contemporary Muslim Fashions, examine how Muslim women—those who cover their heads and those who do not—have become arbiters of style within and beyond their communities. See 80 ensembles drawn from established and emerging designers in high-end fashion, streetwear, sportswear,…

The Jewish Museum

Explore the global Jewish experience through works of fine art, Judaica, antiquities, folk art, ceremonial objects, and broadcast media intelligently organized in gorgeous galleries.

* The ongoing Scenes From the Collection features nearly 600 works from antiquities to contemporary art, a unique mix of artworks and ceremonial objects, including hundreds of stunning menorahs, presented…

Guggenheim

See exciting, well-designed exhibits in the striking Frank Lloyd Wright–designed landmark modern museum.

* Wu Tsang’s large-scale film installation Anthem transforms the rotunda into a sonic sculptural space. Projections of performances by legendary singer, composer, and transgender activist Beverly Glenn-Copeland woven with a larger tapestry of other voices and sounds placed throughout the museum’s circular…

The Met

Explore a vast collection that spans millennia and continents. You might get lost searching for iconic favorites in the grand halls and you’ll definitely discover fascinating art that appeals all ages.

* Advance timed tickets required. On crowded days (or any day), enter through the accessible Uris Center for Education entrance on 81st Street to avoid longer lines.

* Walk like an Egyptian inside the Temple of Dendur…

Museum of the City of New York

Explore the greatest city in the world at this small museum with a big collection of theater artifacts, furniture, toys, paintings, sculpture and photos arranged into exhibits that entertain and educate all ages.

* Favorite spots include an extravagant Gilded Age dollhouse, a dangling light installation above the stunning spiral staircase and the fascinating multimedia…

American Museum of Natural History

Lovers of dinosaurs, sea creatures, outer space and more can get their animal & nature fix at this giant (45 fascinating halls) treasure trove of wonders.

* Favorite spots: Learn about moon rocks and meteorites in the stunning Rose Center for Earth and Space. Zebras, giraffes and other jungle animals surround a family of elephants in…

New-York Historical Society

Learn about the layered, diverse history of NYC at this fascinating museum.

* In the interactive Children’s History Museum, explore 350 years of New York and American history through character-based pavilions, interactive exhibits and digital games, and a charming library. Try cross-stitch, see historic baseball gear, ride an Orphan Train, play a newsies video game…