Central Park is one of New York's most recognizable and most visited attractions (38 million people visit the park each year). In addition to boasting lush woodlands, stunning greenery, and great activities and attractions, the park also features a great lineup of sports, games, and fishing activities.
If your kids are searching for a typical "park" experience including ball fields and playgrounds, rest assured that Central Park has you covered. Twenty-six ball fields, numerous basketball courts, 12 handball courts, lawn bowling, 30 tennis courts, five volleyball courts, and plenty of open green spaces for soccer and football give you ample opportunity to enjoy a day with your favorite sport. Don't worry about packing your favorite sporting equipment in your carry-on bag. A quick visit to the North Meadow Recreation Center will hook your family up with a variety of kits including balls, bats, Frisbees, and jump ropes. The Recreation Center also hosts a variety of year-round recreational activities. Prefer a mental challange? Be sure to visit the Chess and Checkers House where you can borrow and play namesake games as well as dominoes and backgammon.
Not ready for organized sports? There are 21 playgrounds are scattered around the park giving your littlest ones the chance to slide, swing, and climb on modern equipment including an Adventure Playground (focusing on creativity and building-your-own playground) and the Ancient Playground (gathering thematic influence from the nearby Met's Egyptian Art Collection). On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are eight designated Quiet Zones inside Central Park (all marked with appropriate signage) where your kids should try to stay on their best behavior. Many people seek these spaces for tranquility and calm away from the city and might get annoyed at your three-year-old belting out Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star while bouncing her glow in the dark bouncy ball.
There are plenty of activities in Central Park that take place on or around the water during the warmer months. Families can fish in the Harlem Meer year-round and visiting families can even borrow a rod and bait completely free from the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center. Model boat sailing is both fun to participate in and to observe. Bigger boats can take you and your family across Central Park's 22-acre lake. Individual boat rentals or hired rowers are available. Want to dive in? Head to the Lasker Pool, a public swimming pool that is surprisingly not-crowded.
Photo credit: Thomas R. Stegelmann