Top 5 things to do in Central Park with kids

Karyn Locke from Sand and Snow…and everywhere in between! is sharing her top 5 things to do in Central Park with her kids. 

A family trip to New York City is exhilarating. You’ll definitely feel the hustle and bustle of the city streets with the yellow taxi cabs whizzing by while pedestrians wait for the OK to cross, the rush of visitors in and out of stores buying toys and gifts to take home. Yes, the city never sleeps, but everyone needs at least a few minutes of downtime. Though you might not guess, there are several stops in Manhattan for you and your kids to see the sites at a slower pace.

Central Park, in the heart of Manhattan, draws thousands each year looking for a quiet place to relax and enjoy nature in the Big Apple. All 843 acres offer quiet spots and leisurely activities for natives and visitors alike. From ice skating to animal sighting, Central Park is the perfect respite from busy city blocks. Here’s the top 5 places within Central Park to visit with kids.


1. Learn About Science at Belvedere Castle

Have a budding scientist on your hands? The Henry Luce Nature Observatory offers telescopes, microscopes and even Discovery Kits that kids can take around the park to learn about nature through science. Admission is free.  If your family loves to bird watch, the second floor of the castle is a great spot to get a bird’s eye view of the surrounding area. Afterwards, you can hang out on the Great Lawn. If you time it right, you might just get to see a free concert.


2. Take a Boat Ride at Loeb Boathouse

If you’ve ever watched a movie with scenes in Central Park, there’s undoubtedly a shot of Loeb Boathouse in the distance. The boathouse has been around since 1873 and underwent a huge renovation in the 1950s. It offers boat and kayak rentals as well as a shuttle service along upper Fifth Avenue. If you’ve worked up an appetite after all of that exercise, a meal at Boathouse Restaurant is a classic dining experience.


3. Ice Skating at Wollman Rink

From the end of October through early April, Wollman Rink is a must-do activity for families visiting Manhattan. Offering skate rentals, the rink opens daily at 10 a.m., but the best time to visit is dusk or later when kids can take in the beauty of the skyscrapers all lit up. You don’t have to be an expert skater to join in the fun at Wollman Rink. Adults and kids of all skill levels can have a blast.


4. Take a Horse and Carriage Ride Through Central Park

Lined up for a couple of blocks along Central Park South, horse-drawn carriage rides are quintessential New York City.  Families can take in the sights and sounds of Central Park with a leisurely carriage ride, and talking to the driver is half the fun. Rides start at $50 for a 20- minute ride. It’s a fun way to see popular spots in Central Park, so ask the driver to point some out. At the end of ride, don’t forget to ask if it’s okay to give the horse a treat.


5. Central Park Zoo

(Sea) Lions and leopards and monkeys. Oh, my! This quaint zoo has fun animals on display that kids love to watch. Make sure to visit the penguins. Those funny little things will definitely put a smile on your face with their built-in tuxedos and acrobatic swimming maneuvers. There are also snakes and frogs for kids those with affection for creepy-crawlies, as well as daily animal shows. The Tisch Children’s Zoo is located inside Central Park Zoo and has fun, interactive areas and a special spot to pet some lovable, furry creatures.

My family loves visiting Central Park every time we head to Manhattan. Have you ever been? What was your favorite place in Central Park?


Karyn Locke, a former military brat who caught the travel bug at a very early age, Karyn loves road tripping with her family and writing about her travels from small town Ohio at Sand and Snow…and everywhere in between!

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2 thoughts on “Top 5 things to do in Central Park with kids”

  1. Sally@Toddlers on Tour

    Central Park is definitely on my bucket list. Now I also know it’s kid friendly as well.

  2. Allison

    We walked all the way through Central Park from the American Museum of Natural History to the Met, and didn’t see even one of these things. It’s such a big place! We did find two playgrounds in our wanderings, and of course that’s always fun for families. One of the playgrounds is next to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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