Prospect Park 101: What you need to know about the Brooklyn park
Where to grill, how to volunteer and more essential information about Brooklyn’s bucolic space.
Wed Jun 6 2012
Where to grill
There are more than a dozen designated BBQ areas within the park, which you can find on this map. Crowds are pretty much guaranteed on weekends, especially at spots like the upper Long Meadow or the Picnic House, so head out early if you want to fire up a grill during the summer.
Where to play sports
On sunny days, you’ll find crews of people playing Frisbee or catch in areas like the Long Meadow and the Nethermead, but there are loads of other spots where you can participate in organized sports. The Prospect Park Tennis Center is open daily from 7am to 11pm, and can be reserved ahead of time or for night play (visit the Prospect Park Alliance’s Web page for more information on rates and permits). There are also more than a dozen baseball fields, two basketball courts and even a 3.5-mile path where you can go horseback riding (through nearby Kensington Stables).
How to volunteer
Good samaritans can donate their time in numerous ways. For an overview of the available volunteer opportunities, sign up for one of the Prospect Park Alliance’s information sessions—the next ones will be held on June 8 (4–5pm), June 11 (3–4pm) and June 29 (6:30–7:30pm), and provide a quick intro on duties, time commitments and more. There are also a number of projects—such as beautifying the Audubon Center and the Lefferts Historic House, or maintaining the park’s wooded areas—that are staffed weekly by volunteers.
Learn about the park on a guided tour
As much fun as it is to explore the park on your own, a guided tour is the way to go for a more thorough lesson on Prospect Park’s history and wildlife. Learn about areas such as the Ravine and the Lullwater—as well as the hundreds of birds that call the green space home—on a tour led by guides from the Audubon Center, which offers three regularly scheduled jaunts. Or see the park at night (and get an education on bats that live here) during Twilight Tours (July 5, 12, Aug 2, 9, 16, 25 at 6:30pm; $30), which leave from the Boathouse.
Where to ride your bike
The 3.35-mile Park Drive, which loops around the interior of the green space, is open to cyclists at any time, but you’ll find the biggest crowds on weekends, when the road becomes a car-free space. But it’s not a two-wheeler free-for-all: Pedestrians also use the roadway, so be sure to follow the biking rules outlined on the Prospect Park Alliance’s website. Cyclists can also ride along the Prospect Park West bike lane, which runs parallel to the western edge of the park. (The path isn’t without controversy: Opponents of the project have filed numerous lawsuits and appeals against the lane’s installment since it opened in 2010.)