In all of its 843-acre glory, Central Park is not only home to an abundance of different species of plants and animals (thanks in great part to the zoo), but it also hosts a number of different activities both seasonal and year round. So we’ve done our research and come up with five great things for you and your family to do at the park RIGHT NOW! So make like a bunny and hop to it! (Springtime joke!)
1. Birding for Families
Central Park is known to be a resting stop for many birds migrating across the world. Each Sunday in May, meet at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (110th Street between Fifth and Lenox Avenues) before heading out on a walk with expert members of the NYC Audubon Society and Conservancy Discovery Guides as they teach groups how to spot these feathered friends and their visiting relatives. Ages 5 and up, binoculars available to borrow
2. On A Wing: Festival
Each On A Wing program focuses on a specific winged creature, teaching audience members all about why our winged friends such as bees are so important to the ecosystem. Fun activities such as crafts and storytelling are often included.
On May 17, a festival will be held at the Belvedere Castle (mid-park at 79th Street) to celebrate butterflies, bats, birds, and more! Urban Park Rangers, Organization for Bat Conservation, Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation, the Long Island Aquarium, and Jackson Gillman will all come together to share their knowledge, lead audience members in sing-alongs, tell tales of these magnificent creatures, and take groups on guided bird walks so that everyone can point out their favorites.
Stick around until the end of the festival, which runs from 12pm to 3pm, to watch them release the beautiful butterflies into the park!
3. Field Day Kit
The North Meadow Recreation Center, located mid-park at 97th Street, carries 5 kits filled with balls, bats, frisbees, and jump ropes. Wear your sneakers, pack a picnic, and some sunscreen, of course, and gear up for a day filled with family fun.
4. Hallett Nature Sanctuary
Normally exclusive to guided tours, the Hallett Nature Sanctuary, located just south of Trump Rink on the east side from 60th to 62nd Streets, will now be open to the public on Tuesdays during the entire month of May.
Take a leisurely stroll through the newly restored and cultivated trails, which are quickly becoming a hot spot for birds and other wildlife. No groups, dogs, bikes, or strollers.
5. The Tavern And Its Green
On May 30, learn about the history of Central Park by taking a tour of the would-be parade ground that is now Sheep’s Meadow. Then learn a bit about art by taking a look at the statues in the Children’s District and admire the American Elms in the Mall.
The Children’s District, built just after the Park opened in 1860 after it had received criticism from local newspapers for lacking in children’s facilities, once held a Dairy, a playground (now Heckscher Playground and Ballfield), a children’s cottage, which was demolished, and the Kinderberg, or “children’s mountain,” where the Park’s largest rustic shelter once stood.
For those looking for a quieter day at the park, be sure to check out the Harlem Meer, located on the east side between 106 and 110th streets. The meer (Dutch for “lake”) is surrounded by 11 acres of vegetation and is a popular destination for catch-and-release fishing, ice skating or swimming (depending on the season), and energy-releasing fun at the two playgrounds nearby.
Save the Date: The Harlem Meer Performance Festival will be held on June 15 from 2pm to 4pm. Local musicians and dancers will perform from genres such as jazz, Latin, world, and gospel.