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New York - Central Park

Central Park
Central Park is big, 843 acres of soft green meadows, ponds and waterfalls, forest glades, rustic bridges, lakes for boating, bike paths, playgrounds, all landscaped. Designed in mid 19th century as a “people’s park” where everyone could come, Central Park is the heart of New York City. Kids can fly kites, toss frisbees, for the stroller set, there's plenty of paved paths and lots of playgrounds, bring your picnic lunches to the park, and on weekends throughout the park you'll see jugglers, storytellers, musicians and more.
Child and horse at Central Park
  Take a horse-drawn carriage ride – It really is fun for everyone in the family to take a horse-drawn carriage ride around Central Park. Pick up your carriage-to-ride at Grand Army Plaza or Central Park South. Little kids will enjoy watching the horses getting a drink of water from little stone troughs at Artists’ Gate on Central Park South.
    Wollman Rink/Victorian Gardens Amusement Park
      Wollman Ice Skating Rink – In winter, go ice skating outdoors (November to March), right in the heart of Manhattan. Even if you don’t skate, it’s fun to watch all the skaters on this large rink. Skates can be rented and there are lockers for your stuff.
      Victorian Gardens – In summer (May to Sept.) this area is an amusement park for little kids, with rides, a miniature train, cotton candy and caramel apples, clowns, games and activities, live shows on the weekend.
  Heckscher Playground – The largest playground in the park, this newly renovated playground is super all year round, with lots of swings and slides, climbing structures and a big sand pit. In summer, children will also have a great time playing in the large wading pools. Stop off at a drug store to get sand toys and be sure the kids wear clothes that can get wet.
  Ride the carousel – This old-time carousel has been going round and round on this location since 1871, with 58 beautiful hand-carved horses (you can’t miss the red and white striped building). April to December, the carousel is open daily, January to March the carousel is open only on weekends.
    Central Park Zoo and Tisch Children’s Zoo
      Central Park Zoo – This charming, small scale zoo has grizzly bears, penguins and puffins, rare red pandas, tamarins, sea lions, and rain forest animals, a Wildlife Theater with programs about the animals (summers only), sea lions and penguins feedings daily.
Tisch Children's Zoo
    Next door, the Tisch Children’s Zoo is perfect for little kids, where they climb through a tree to reach a lush little “enchanted forest” with sculpted rabbits and turtles, a rope spider web, streams and ponds, and petting zoo (pet and feed a goat, pig, cow or sheep).
      Delacorte Musical Clock - Every hour and half hour (8 to 5), stop to listen to tunes while the animals (bear, hippo, goat, kangaroo, penguin) move around the clock.
      Just north of the Children’s Zoo is the Billy Johnson playground, which has a granite slide, toddler swings, picnic tables. Close by, check out the statue of Balto, a spirited Alaskan husky sled dog who transported medicine from Anchorage to Nome during a blizzard.
    Conservatory Water – Like Stuart Little, race your sailboat on the pond (remember when his schooner, the Wasp, gets caught in a paper bag on the water ...). Rent model sail boats, and launch then on the pond, or watch radio-controlled boats zipping around. There’s also a snack bar and ice cream stand.
  Statues – Around Conservatory Water are several statues of characters from favorite children’s stories, and throughout the park. In any weather you’ll see kids crawling over the statues, especially Alice in Wonderland, beloved by New York children for decades.
    Alice in Wonderland – A charming bronze statue of Alice, perched on a large squishy mushroom, along with the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and Dormouse.
      Sophie Loeb Water Fountain – In warm weather, run under the water spraying out from this fountain decorated with more figures from Alice in Wonderland – the Cheshire Cat and White Rabbit. Kids can also play in the playground around the fountain, with swings and climbing structures.
      Hans Christian Andersen – Kids will want to climb onto the bronze lap of Hans Christian Andersen, reading “The Ugly Duckling” story to a small duckling. In summer, look for storytelling around the statue.
      Mother Goose (Rumsey Playfield) – Lively statue of Mother Goose, who looks more like a good witch with swirling cape and pointy hat, perched on a large flying goose.
      Group of Bears – Three majestic bronze bears, near the Pat Hoffman Friedman playground.
    Loeb Boathouse –
Boating in Central Park
    Boating on the lake – Rent boats and go out on the lake – you’ll see egrets out and about. Rowboats (hold four people) and kayaks, available for rent April to November. Don’t feel like rowing – glide around the lake on a gondola, a popular pastime since the 19th century. (Gondola rides, in good weather, call for reservations 212.517.2233.)
      Rent bikes – Go for a bike ride on the 6 mile bike loop (there are bike lanes) through Central Park. Kids' bikes are available, but get there early (supply is limited), rentals include helmets. March to October.
    Strawberry Fields – Teens will enjoy a ramble through Stawberry Fields, a lovely landscaped garden with the stunning “Imagine” mosaic, in memory of Beatles singer John Lennon, who lived across the road at the Dakota apartment building, and particularly enjoyed this area of Central Park.
Belvedere Castle
  Belvedere Castle – The 19th century stone castle (which appears to rise out of the rock upon which it was built) houses a nature center, Henry Luce Nature Observatory. Inside, kids can learn about the many plants and animals of Central Park, with fossil replicas, microscopes, and other hands-on stuff. On the second level, check out Discovery Kits for bird-watching or aquatic life in Turtle Pond (just north of the castle). Be sure to climb up to the roof terraces for views of the park (this is especially nice in fall when the trees turn color.)
    Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater – The cottage was imported from Sweden and it’s a charming setting for puppet shows, original productions with hand-crafted puppets, based on favorite fairy tales. Performances are usually on the weekend and reservations are required. Click here for the details.
    Metropolitan Museum of ArtThe Metropolitan Museum of Art is on the eastern edge of Central Park, at Fifth Ave and 82nd St.
    Playgrounds – In addition to the playgrounds already mentioned, there are more super playgrounds in Central Park, with climbing structures, swings and water play areas in summer. Relax in the Adventure Playground (W. 67th St. at Central Park West), Diana Ross Playground (81st St. and Central Park West), Ancient Playground (E. 84th St. and Fifth Ave.), East 72nd St. Playground (E. 72nd St. and Fifth Ave.), Pat Hoffman Friedman Playground (E. 79th St. and Fifth Ave.), or the Ross Pinetum Playground, on the northwest corner of the Great Lawn, with lots of swings and picnic tables.
kids books central park new york city
     
The Tree childrens books central park new york city  
The Tree
Karen Gray Ruelle, Deborah Durland DeSaix

A tree grows in Central Park for 250 years, from a seedling amidst wildlife and farms, to a spreading elm, surrounded by a children's home, soldier's tents in time of war, circus elephants and sporting events, parades and celebrations. A unique timeline of Central Park through the centuries. (Picture book)

 

     
Pale Male
Janet Schulman, Meilo So

A majestic red-tailed hawk (nicknamed Pale Male) makes Central Park his home, but it doesn't suit his mate. The two birds take up residence on a Fifth Ave. apartment building, right across from the park, and every spring there's a new bunch of chicks – until the apartment dwellers remove their nest. A true story, gorgeously illustrated! (Picture book)

 

 
nature kids books central park new york city Pale Male
(More children's books on other New York City pages)
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