Summer in Central Park

by Nichol Perez

Central Park NYC

Summer in Central Park

One of the best things about living in Manhattan is the having an amazing place to take the kids, and that place is Central Park. Central Park is our go to place for picnics, events, playgrounds and so much more. There’s lots to do and I am sharing with you a few of our favorites. All of my children practically grew up exploring Central Park. From new things built, to old things restored, Central Park never gets boring. There always something happening.

We’ve narrowed down some of our favorite parks:

East 110th Street Playground (110th Lenox Avenue)
This park had a major transformation in 2013, it was completely rebuilt by the Conservancy with the latest in playground design. We made sure the first day it opened we were there to test everything out. We love the new park. My kids love the bucket and tire swings and the sprinklers. The padding on the ground is soft enough so if kids fall they won’t get injured. We get there early because it does get crowded but even when it’s crowded it so big there’s room for everyone. We are a few blocks away so this is always our first park of the day.

East 96th Street Playground (96th Street 5th Avenue)
We can walk, ride our scooters or take a bus to this park. This park has a variety of play equipment with lots of space for running and playing games. Everything from a sandbox, tree house, slides and climbing poles, tire and bucket swings, sprinklers and two play structures with bridges. There are also picnic tables which are great to eat lunch. I love how big this park is. My kids enjoy this park very much. I find myself playing with my kids in this park a lot. I love swings too so every park we visit I must get on the swings so I like to get there early.

Ancient Playground (85th Street 5th Avenue)
North of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this playground’s climbing pyramids, obelisk and sundial were inspired by the Museum’s collection of Egyptian Art. I used to work at The Metropolitan Museum of Art so I can see why this is another favorite of ours. In the main play area the pyramid shape climbers with slides and tunnels are linked by concrete bridges. Bucket, tire and strap swings are for children of all ages. My kids love the slides, bridges and tunnels. For the younger kids there is an obelisk shaped structure set in a sandbox. Two user activated water features. Spray nozzles set into a wall are for the younger kids and water that runs from a central obelisk across two bridges and cascades like a mini-waterfall into an open area with water jets for the older kids. Restrooms are located in this park and you can visit the museum right across the street before or after.

Looking for a local Amusement Park? Look no further, because there is one in Central Park.

Victorian Gardens Amusement Park (East Side btwn 62nd and 63rd St)
This family Amusement Park has 12 handcrafted rides, games, live interactive shows and con sessions like cotton candy, ice cream and caramel corn. There are shaded sitting areas, and you can also celebrate your child’s birthday at this great venue. Unlimited ride packages food for the entire day can be purchased, or a pay-per attraction option is available too.

Ride the Carousel
Did you know there’s a Carousel in Central Park? (Mid Park 64th Street). It is one of Central Park’s most popular attraction with 57 magnificent horses. We’ve been here a few times and have a ball. Open seven days a week during the summer months, weather permitting. Call (212) 439-6900 Ext. 12 for hours, admission fees and additional information.

Central Park Zoo
We never get tired of going to the zoo. One of our favorite zoo’s is the Central Park Zoo. (5th Avenue btwn 63rd and 66th Street).

As you enter the zoo in the center courtyard are the sea lions who will perform tricks for visitors during their feeding at 11:30 a.m., 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. There is a hot tropical house with beautiful birds and we love seeing the monkeys and penguins. Another favorite was Gus the Polar Bear. Unfortunately he passed away, but don’t worry there is another polar bear there. There is so much to see and do. We also have fun feeding the goats and sheep at the Tisch Children’s Zoo. Put a quarter in the dispenser and a handful of nutritious food will come out that they eat out of your hands. My kids love it because it tickles their hands. There’s also a Vietnamese Pot Bellied Pig there as well.

A Picnic in the Park
Picnics are always part of our summer fun. There are two favorite spots in Central Park for this. When I hold my Back to School Picnic I use the park on (100th Street and 5th Avenue).

This open space on the all green grass is huge. There’s plenty of trees for shade and the kids have fun running around playing with their frisbees, soccer ball, bubbles, volleyball, whatever you want to bring. I use this area because the park (Robert Bendheim Playground) located inside has a water feature in the shape of a corkscrew allows children to run through mists of spray so they can cool off and restrooms on site. A “playground for all children,” this play space was designed to be accessible to children with and without disabilities. A large play structure features tunnels, slides, sound-generating play components and wheelchair-accessible ramps. The playground also includes a sandbox with raised sand tables and bucket swings.

Sheep Meadow is another favorite for picnics (West Side 66th to 69th Street). The meadow is the park’s first Quiet Zone which means it’s perfect for relaxing, unwinding, picnics and sunbathing which there is a lot of. It also has one of the best views of Manhattan’s famous skyline.

Theater in the Park
If you don’t go to at least one Shakespeare in the Park then you don’t know what you’re missing and you need to get online for free tickets ASAP. (Mid Park 80th Street Southwest Corner of the Great Lawn).

Delacorte Theater, summer home of the Public Theater, hosts more than 100,00 people from across the country and world. We love enjoying free performances at the open-air theater. Celebrities perform and the performances are amazing. Head to or for more information.

Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (Inside the Park 110th between 5th & Lenox Avenue)
This center offers a wide variety of Conservancy-sponsored free education and community programs, seasonal exhibits and holiday celebrations. Fishing poles are available for children and adults to borrow for catch & release fishing in the Meer. We hang out here a lot and enjoy fishing. Restrooms are located here, and the 110th St Playground that I mentioned earlier is right next to this center.

I hope you enjoyed reading about The Perez family favorite spots to hang out in Central Park. I enjoyed sharing them with you and hope you visit one day.

Image Credit: (Ancient Playground)


Nichol Perez blogs at Five Little Words – she is mom to 4 fabulous kids, and is a freelance writer. Read her blog to find out more about how cool life as a family can be in NYC.

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