3 Things to Do In Central Park With Kids

Published on September 17, 2019 - Updated on January 21, 2020

Visiting Manhattan — my old stomping grounds — with my kids is one of my greatest joys in life. We love all of the opportunities for adventure that we have in our new location (right outside of Denver), but I have to say, there’s an electric feeling in New York, and sharing that with my two kids is really something special.

If you aren’t familiar with New York City — or if you haven’t been with kids before — it can feel intimidating. Besides checking out some of the awesome playgrounds (there are some great ones in Battery Park City, Washington Square Park and Madison Square Park), my advice would be to start with one of the most kid-friendly spots you’ll find in the concrete jungle — Central Park. On a recent trip back east to visit family, we managed to get into the city for a day, and we spent almost the entire time in the park. Here were some of my favorite hot spots that the kids were in awe of:

The Alice in Wonderland Statue

Where it’s located: Mid-park on the East side at 75th Street

Why it’s great: Visiting the Alice in Wonderland Statue itself won’t take very long (it’s just a statue, after all), but depending on your kid’s age, she will love climbing and exploring and hiding in all of the nooks and crannies this large bronze statue provides. It’s also conveniently located right next to Conservatory Water, which has radio- and wind-powered boats to sail from April through October, a café and outdoor tables, and bunch of other kid-friendly activities — including seasonal story times! — to enjoy.

The Central Park Carousel

Where it’s located: 1802 E. 65th St.

Why it’s great: Weather permitting, the 57 horses that make up the Central Park Carousel are available to ride for just $3.25 per person (cash only) daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. If your kid loves a good carousel ride, riding this one in the middle of Central Park is sure to provide lasting memories for both of you.

The Central Park Zoo

Where it’s located: East 64th Street

Why it’s great: The main Central Park Zoo is wonderful for a good wander — and not so large that you can’t do the entire thing in a couple hours, if you really wanted to — but Tisch Children’s Zoo (which is free with the cost of a regular zoo ticket) offers an even more personalized experience for your child. With a petting zoo and the ability to feed the animals (from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. year-round, subject to change), plus lots of play gear for kids to crawl, jump and climb on, it’s the perfect spot for them to get all of their wiggles out. Plan to spend at least three hours here if you want to do both the main zoo and the children’s zoo, and purchase your tickets online to get a discount and potentially avoid the sometimes long line to pay for tickets at the park.

By: Cheryl Lock of Weary Wanderer

Thoughtfully captured by:
Cheryl Lock
Cheryl Lock is a former New Yorker who currently lives in Denver with her husband and two daughters, Lotte and Grace. When she isn't exploring the mountains and trails with her girls, Cheryl is a writer and editor who covers travel, personal finance and parenting. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Parents, Real Simple and more. You can see more of her work here at CherylLock.com and WearyWanderer.wordpress.com,.
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How to get the most out of your day in Central Park.