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Things to Do in Central Park with Kids in Every Season

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Central Park with kids is a must for any New York City family vacation. In every season, NYC’s biggest park offers a wide range of attractions sure to please visitors of all ages. As a native New Yorker, I’m always discovering new things when I explore Central Park and you will, too. Here are the best things to do in Central Park with kids, no matter when you go.

Central Park in spring

Central Park in spring (Photo credit: irot999, Depositphotos.com)

Springtime in Central Park with Kids

In spring, Central Park sheds its frosty blanket of snow and instead blooms with flowers. Cherry trees with their cheerful pink blossoms delight visitors to the park. Also look for delicate crocuses, plucky tulips, and New York City’s official flower, the sunny yellow daffodil. If flowers are what you seek, then Shakespeare Garden and Conservatory Garden make good choices.

Shakespeare Garden in Central Park in spring

Shakespeare Garden in Central Park (Photo credit: johnanderson, Depositphotos.com)

Playgrounds

There are no less than 21 playgrounds to explore in Central Park with kids in spring and any time of year. One of my favorites is the Ancient Playground. It was inspired by the nearby Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Egyptian Wing. This unique play space features stone pyramids, tunnels, forts, tire swings and slides. 

Ancient Playground in Central Park

Ancient Playground (Photo credit: palinchak, Depositphotos.com)

Central Park Zoo

Open during all four seasons, the Central Park Zoo’s lush landscaping is particularly pretty in spring. Plus, if you’re lucky, you might see some baby animals.

Central Park Zoo

Central Park Zoo (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

The main zoo features classic exhibits including the famed sea lions and polar bears. Save time waiting in line by purchasing your Central Park Zoo entry tickets in advance. And be warned…you’ll find balloon artists near the zoo entrance, but balloons are not allowed inside so hold off on your purchases. 

Young kids will want plenty of time to experience the Tisch Children’s Zoo, which is separate but included in the ticket price. Tisch Children’s Zoo features several animal feeding areas, a spider web net, adorable photo ops and more.

Delacorte Music Clock

Delacorte Music Clock (Photo credit: demerzel21, Depositphotos.com)

Delacorte Musical Clock

Located near the Children’s Zoo, be sure to stop at the Delacorte Musical Clock on the half hour for seasonal chimes and nursery rhymes performed by moving animals.

Central Park Carousel

Central Park Carousel (Photo credit: art2002, Depositphotos.com)

Central Park Carousel

A nice post-zoo pitstop is the nearby Central Park Carousel. About 250,000 people take a spin on this merry ride each year. It’s one of the nation’s biggest carousels, too, boasting 57 hand-carved wooden horses.

Central Park surrey tour with kids

Central Park pedicab tour (Photo credit: Travel Mamas)

Pedicab Tour

Central Park covers a whopping 840 acres, making it impossible to see all its offerings in one day. Cover a lot of ground and learn about New York City’s largest park from an expert during a pedicab tour. Tours are available year-round but are especially pleasant during spring. Sign up for your Central Park pedicab tour via Viator now!

Central Park in summer

Central Park in summer (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Central Park Summer Family Activities

When New York’s summer temperatures surge, Central Park is a welcome retreat. Cool down with a popsicle purchase from a park vendor. For a more substantial meal, you’ll probably want to pack a lunch since there are very few spots to buy meals within Central Park. 

Picnickers on Sheep Meadow in Central Park

Picnickers on Sheep Meadow in Central Park (Photo credit: bonandbon, Depositphotos.com)

Picnic in Central Park with Kids

Summer in Central Park is the best time to set up a picnic on the 55-acre Great Lawn (open mid-April to mid-October) or 15-acre Sheep Meadow (open May to mid-October). 

Victorian Gardens Amusement Park in Central Park in summer

Rainbowheel Ferris Wheel at Victorian Gardens Amusement Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Victorian Gardens Amusement Park

If you’re exploring Central Park with young children, then plan to spend time at Victorian Gardens. This adorable small theme park features sweet old-fashioned amusements. This spot is perfect for kids aged 2 to 12, with rides like the Mini Mouse Coaster and the Rainbowheel Ferris Wheel. Older siblings will appreciate a few carnival games onsite. Victorian Gardens typically opens on Memorial Day each year.

Row boats in Central Park

Row boats in Central Park (Photo credit: Vic83, Depositphotos.com)

Loeb Boathouse Row Boats and Lakeside Restaurant

Rent a row boat from the Loeb Boathouse and paddle about while taking in the Central Park scenery from the water. Boats are available for rent April through November, weather permitting.

Also located at the Loeb Boathouse, the Lakeside Restaurant features indoor and al fresco fine-dining April through late October. It’s one of the only places to eat in Central Park and even offers a children’s menu. Reservations are recommended.

Miniature boats on Conservatory Water in Central Park

Miniature boats on Conservatory Water (Photo credit: ginag0108, Depositphotos.com)

Conservatory Water Miniature Boats

Kids can pilot mini radio and wind-powered boats at the nearby Conservatory Water from April through October. These vessels are similar to the wee boats made famous by Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. In winter, this ornamental pond transforms into an ice skating rink.

Bubble maker in Central Park with kids

Bubble maker in Central Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Summer Concerts and Performances

Central Park hosts several summer outdoor concerts. Music ranges from opera and classical music to rock, pop and beyond so you’re sure to find something that suits your family’s tastes.

Since 1962, Shakespeare in the Park has been entertaining crowds at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. These grand scale classic shows make a great choice for families with older kids and teens.

Alice in Wonderland Statue

Alice in Wonderland Statue (Photo credit: darksideOfPink, Depositphotos.com)

Alice in Wonderland Statue

Nearby, you will find the famous Alice in Wonderland bronze sculpture. This is a favorite climbing spot for locals and tourists alike.

Hans Christian Andersen sculpture in NYC Central Park

Hans Christian Andersen sculpture (Photo credit: artyooran.gmail.com, Depositphotos.com)

Fairytales with Hans Christian Andersen

Families will also want to visit the Hans Christian Andersen statue. On Saturdays during summer, gather around the sculpture at 11 am to hear Andersen’s beloved stories like Ugly Duckling, The Princess and the Pea, Thumbelina and more. Check the story time schedule before you go.

Discover Kits for kids in Central Park

Discover Kits for kids in Central Park (Photo from CentralParkNYC.org)

Discovery Kits for Kids

Kids who like to explore can borrow a free Discovery Kit from any of the Visitors Centers within the park. The kit includes kid-friendly binoculars, children’s field guides, a hand lens, colored pencils, and sketch paper. 

Autumn in Central Park

Autumn in Central Park (Photo credit: rudi1976, Depositphotos.com)

Central Park Kid-Friendly Fall Fun

If you’re looking for a stunning setting for family photos, then autumn in Central Park is a lovely option. The vibrant leaves combined with the urban backdrop are downright stunning. Download this fall foliage Central Park map for a self-guided autumn walking tour.

Bow Bridge

Bow Bridge (Photo credit: rabbit75_dep, Depositphotos.com)

Bow Bridge and Turtle Pond

The elegant cast-iron Bow Bridge arches over Turtle Pond. This is one of the most popular photo op spots in Central park, and for good reason, as you can see above. Kids should keep eyes peeled to spot five species of turtles who make this pond their home.

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Bethesda Fountain and Terrace

Situated on two levels, Bethesda Terrace includes two grand staircases and another one that passes under Terrace Drive. The centerpiece of lower Bethesda Terrace is the beautiful Bethesda Fountain, constructed between 1859 and 1862. It stars an 8-foot bronze winged angel.

Imagine mosaic commemorating John Lennon at Strawberry Fields in Central Park

Imagine mosaic commemorating John Lennon at Strawberry Fields (Photo credit: kmiragaya, Depositphotos.com)

Strawberry Fields

Beatles fans will want to stop by Strawberry Fields, a 2.5-acre landscaped section of the park built in memorial to John Lennon and named for his famous song of the same name. Stop at the Imagine mosaic to pay tribute to Lennon and take some photos.

Central Park in winter

Central Park in winter (Photo credit: rabbit75_dep, Depositphotos.com)

What to Do in Winter in Central Park

When it snows in New York City, Central Park becomes a winter wonderland of fun. Families will find hills for sliding and snow tubing. Plus, there are miles of snow-covered grounds for snowshoeing, snowman building, snow angel making and snowball fights.

Wollman Skating Rink

Wollman Skating Rink (Photo credit: eddtoro35, Depositphotos.com)

Wollman Skating Rink

One of the most classic winter adventures in Central Park is skating at Wollman Rink. Take in the view of Manhattan’s skyline as you skate and twirl on ice here. In summer, the Victorian Gardens theme park replaces the rink.

Metropolitan Museum of Art near Central Park

Metropolitan Museum of Art near Central Park (Photo credit: kmiragaya, Depositphotos.com)

Metropolitan Museum of Art

When you’re done with chilly temperatures, warm up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, located on the park’s east side. Enjoy the museum’s changing exhibits and some of the world’s most amazing artifacts like the Temple of Dendur.

A wintry show at Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre

A wintry show at Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre (Photo from CityParksFoundation.org)

Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre

Another amusing indoor activity in Central Park for children is the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, which puts on amazing and affordable performances throughout the year.

Be sure to check out the Central Park event calendar, no matter what time of year you visit!

Statue of Liberty and New York City skyline

Statue of Liberty and New York City skyline (Photo credit: UTBP, Depositphotos.com)

Explore More of New York 

Save money on your NYC vacation with these free things to do in New York City with kids.

Heading to the Big Apple during the holiday season? Take a look at the best New York City holiday activities for families.

Get out of the city and head to Upstate New York for nature exploration with this list of kid-friendly things to do in the Adirondacks.

Fun Things to Do in Central Park with Kids

Save These Things to Do in Central Park with Kids

For future reference, be sure to save these tips for exploring Central Park with children. Simply pin the image above to Pinterest. We hope you’ll follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

Have you ever visited Central Park with kids? Tell us your favorite memories in the comments below!

About Lyla Gleason, The Globetrotting Travel Mama

Long before the glamorous world of marriage, motherhood and travel blogging, Lyla Gleason had an exciting career as a travel publicist representing hotels and destinations across the globe. She spent her childhood on Long Island and then attended college and grad school in Boston and lived abroad in Rome. Some of her most favorite vacation spots include the Caribbean, India and Turkey. She is currently a downtown NYC mom who can be found chasing after her 7-year-old daughter, cooking dinner, mingling at blogger events and exploring near and far with a camera in hand. She is the author of GlobetrottingMommy.com, a lifestyle blog dedicated to travel, family fun and fabulous finds. Connect with Lyla on Twitter at @travelmommy.

Comments
  1. Myra Naseem says

    Excellent article. I always enjoy reading what Lyla has to say. She has the best ideas.

  2. John @ Pretravels says

    I have to admit that I’ve only seen Central Park in the summer. Thank you for sharing these images and tips, they are great and make me want to go back 🙂

  3. I live in NYC, and Central Park is our favorite place to visit in the city. There’s so much to do there, and it’s so huge, it can really feel like a trip to the wilderness sometimes.

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Agreed! I love that New York City prioritized making a place for nature in the middle of that bustling city. Such a beautiful retreat!

  4. I’m glad that everything is starting to open back up. These are great ideas.

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Getting outdoors is so important for mental health — I’m glad to see that New Yorkers can enjoy their beautiful Central Park during these crazy times!

  5. Love NY! Can’t wait to go back as soon as things get back to normal a bit. Great post!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Yes! My family is planning an NYC trip this summer. Fingers crossed we will be able to travel safely by then!

  6. What an incredible itinerary for doing Central Park with kids! So many fabulous images and I love the seasonal distinguishment of events.

  7. Sara | mshealthesteem.com says

    Central Park looks gorgeous! I love that there are tons of fun things to do with kids. Thank you for sharing! Hope I get to visit someday 😊

  8. Central Park looks beautiful and full of so many activities for the entire family. Would love to visit one day with my family

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Such a great option for families in New York City! I hope you get a chance to bring your kids to Central Park someday!

  9. I do miss New York. I used to love walking through Central Park.

  10. Anshika Juneja says

    Well, i have never been to US before but if i will go there, i am sure this would be the first place which i would love to visit with my family.

    • Colleen Lanin says

      If you ever get a chance to visit the U.S., I definitely recommend including New York City in your itinerary — it’s such a diverse city with so many sites and attractions — like Central Park! 🙂

  11. Ej Requina says

    New York was supposed to be a destination of mine last year. Was supposed to visit friends there and in Boston and would have definitely gone to Central park. But will keep this post, hopefully I could head back to the states next year.

  12. Elizabeth O says

    I love Central Park so much. Every time I’m in NYC, I make it a point to go there. It’s such a gorgeous oasis out there.

  13. These are the places I dream about going to once things return to normal and travel is allowed again. Looking forward to those days!

  14. We have been to Central Park, including the Central Park Zoo. It is nice to have some different options for exploring and seeing different parts of the park.

  15. Emman Damian says

    I have heard so much about Central Park! I want to jog here! Maybe after the pandemic? I want to see it personally!

  16. littlemisadvencha says

    the place is very relaxing. a good place to forget all the hustles and just look at the surroundings, and watch the kids play. 🙂 what a great day!

  17. I had been to Central Park with friends. But the ideas are good!

  18. OMG, yes! There are so many thing to do with Kids in Central Park. I love that place!

  19. WanderlustBeautyDreams says

    I love central park especially in the fall and spring time! You gave amazing suggestions for family activites.

  20. Our trip to NY last year was cancelled due to pandemic thus, we can’t help be excited to visit NY again. Thank you for sharing these ideas. We would love to visit Loeb Boathouse Row Boats and Lakeside Restaurant. I think its one of the safest options during the new normal.

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