What would you do if you had to pick just one thing to do in New York City? One spot to visit? One place to spend a few hours or a few days?
There are a million options. You could visit award winning museums, skyscrapers that reach to the clouds, historical sites like the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island. There is something for everyone in New York. Is there one place that has something for everyone?
We visited New York for Thanksgiving with our kids. I have family in the area so I have visited several times before and have already done most of the things listed above and more. There is one place that I have been every time I have visited New York City and will likely return to every time in the future.
In the middle of Manhattan sits one of the most famous spots in New York that has been a National Historic Landmark since 1962. It is 843 acres of park designed by architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.
I would argue that in a city that has something for everyone, this park likewise has something for everyone. Within the park are lakes and ponds, walking tracks, bridle paths, two ice skating rinks, the Central Park Zoo, the Central Park Conservatory Garden, a wildlife sanctuary, natural woods, an outdoor amphitheater, the Belvedere Castle, a historic Carousel, 20 playgrounds for children, and green space in every direction. So, where do you begin?
When visited with children, here are 5 places I would start.
5 Things to do with Children in Central Park
1. Play at a Playground
As I mentioned there are 20 Playgrounds scattered around Central Park. TWENTY! Most of the are completely spectacular. You can find them all on this list divided into sections of the park. Several playgrounds have water areas for summertime as well.
2. Ride the Carousel
My son did this with his daddy and grandpa on our trip and had a wonderful time. It is not quite as unique as the Sea Glass Carousel, but it is beautiful and tons of fun.
3. Climb Belvedere Castle
Belvedere Castle was the highlight of our trip for my daughter. She was amazed to be inside a real castle and loved climbing to the top viewing spot. I loved the view. You can see gorgeous skylines in every direction and astonishing views of the park. I took a hundred pictures and she cried when we had to leave. Definitely worth the climb.
4. Watch the Animals at the Zoo
The Central Park Zoo is a pretty awesome zoo all contained within the park. It has a wide variety of animals including monkeys, seals, and lions. It is not free, but a reasonable family membership includes free parking and entrance to the Bronx Zoo, NY Aquarium, Queens Zoo, and Prospect Park Zoo. You can see cost details HERE.
5. Wander and Play
There is ample green space and landscaping in the park. It is an oasis within the bustling city. Our children loved climbing on the various rock formations. Take time to wander and play. Consider bringing a scooter to ride or a ball to kick around.
read also: Everything guide to nyc with kids