It’s no lie Central Park is absolutely huge and if you want to see it all in a day with a kid or two in tow … well, good luck. You’ll either need a pretty sturdy stroller or a tough parent attitude that keeps them walking all day. If you want your visit to this Manhattan landmark to be more smiles than tears, consider narrowing down your visit to just the top kid-friendly spots in the park. Save the trek in its entirety for a parents-only getaway.
Central Park Zoo
The Central Park Zoo is a relatively small area of the park, at just more than six acres, but there are 130 species living within. There’s even a small Children’s Zoo located inside the main zoo, with its own 30 species, a petting zoo and an Enchanted Garden with native inhabitants like frogs and turtles.
At this small water feature in the park, you and your family can rent a remote-controlled model boat and sail it across the pond. This is a picturesque spot in the summer, with the fanciful white sailboats bobbing around the water, steered by eager kids standing on the sidelines. Just a few steps away, a café sells quick lunches and cocktails for mom and dad.
This is the park’s oldest and largest playground, making it a must for visiting families. There’s plenty to climb, scale, cross and jump off of, all while mom or dad keep a watchful eye. The play areas are somewhat divided so the older kids aren’t tripping all over their younger siblings and friends.
Alice in Wonderland Statue
If you’re visiting Conservatory Water, this popular statue is nearby. The statue is certainly a favorite for visiting children, but it’s not just a cute photo op or something to look at it. You’ll always see kids climbing all over the statue’s toadstools and the characters from the beloved book and movies.
If you want to try ices kating with your family, but worry about crowds or your family’s skills (regardless of age), Wollman Rink might be a good place to start. It is a bit crowded, but this means everyone’s moving at a relatively slow pace — great for beginners. As you make your way around the rink, you can admire the Manhattan scenery.
This castle is closed in 2018 for restorations, but it’s well worth a visit afterward if you get the chance. The beautiful castle offers great views of the surrounding park, Turtle Pond and the Great Lawn. Weather geeks will be interested to know it’s the highest point in the park and, as such, provides the National Weather Service with NYC weather data.