Timeout New York Kids

Make the most of your city

The ten best things to do in Central Park

New York's lush backyard is the ideal spot for autumnal family fun.

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Autumn in Central Park

  • Courtesy Central Park Conservancy

    Autumn in Central Park

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Autumn in Central Park

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Autumn in Central Park

  • Courtesy Central Park Conservancy

    Autumn in Central Park

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Autumn in Central Park

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Autumn in Central Park

  • Courtesy Central Park Conservancy

    Autumn in Central Park

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Autumn in Central Park

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Autumn in Central Park

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Autumn in Central Park

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Autumn in Central Park

Photograph: Virginia Rollison

Autumn in Central Park


1. Wind through the tranquil Shakespeare Garden on your way to Belvedere Castle, the magnificent outlook with three open-air terraces and nature kits children can borrow to do some exploring in the castle's dominion. Kids can check out the weather monitor on the second floor and spy the wind-measuring equipment at the top of the tower—vestiges of the building's former role as a bona fide weather station. And since the castle makes a brilliant backdrop for photos, don't forget to bring a camera.

2. Take in a show at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, housed within a quirky wooden house built in Sweden for the U.S. Centennial in Philadelphia.

3. Visit the charming Central Park Zoo, whose refurbished penguin house and new snow leopard exhibit complement the menagerie's already awesome residents (think polar bears and snow-monkey families). And don't forget that admission includes a stop at the Tisch Children's Zoo (it has a separate entrance), where kids can feed and pet the likes of llamas, goats and sheep; they can climb a giant spiderweb too.

4. Slide down the enormous marble slide at Billy Johnson Playground, just off Fifth Avenue at East 65th Street. Kids may have to wait in a line, but as that line attests, the trip down is worth it.

5. Go fishing in Harlem Meer, at the park's northern edge. Fishing rods (for kids under 16) can be borrowed at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center through October 7; it's catch-and-release, so don't get any ideas about what's for dinner.

6. Head to the Loeb Boathouse midpark and load the gang into a rowboat or two (three people max per boat) to explore Central Park Lake (through November, weather permitting). After rowing past the Point and under Bow Bridge, kids often forget they're in the city altogether.

7. Go ice-skating at Wollman Rink or Lasker Rink, both of which open in October. Wollman is a magical spot in which to practice figure-eights: It's less crowded and cramped than Citi Pond or the Rock Center rink, and its mixed urban-pastoral views are one-of-a-kind. Families looking to get off the beaten path can head to Lasker, at the park's northern end; it's the least sceney of Manhattan's rinks, and is a great value to boot.

8. Bring supplies for a picnic—plus balls and Frisbees—on the sprawling lawn of Sheep Meadow. Didn't plan ahead? No worries. Pick up lunch at Le Pain Quotidien, at the spot's northern edge.

9. Let the kids loose in Heckscher Playground, at the park's southwestern edge. Its state-of-the-art offerings—including a huge sandbox, unusual jungle gyms, fun tire swing and steep slide—aren't likely to garner any naysayers.

10. Stop by the beloved Central Park Carousel to mount one of 57 hand-carved, hand-painted horses (created in 1908) for a speedy, music-filled and utterly addictive spin.


Share your thoughts
  1. * mandatory fields

Events for kids by date

Americangirl.com for Events!

  1. A Christmas Carol

    Literally Alive Children's Theatre presents a musi...

  2. Aladdin

    This adaptation of the Disney classic tops the res...

  3. American Ballet...

    The talented dancers from the American Ballet Thea...

58 more events »