Deep in one of New York City’s most diverse and eclectic boroughs, Brooklyn’s Prospect Park garners over 10 million visits a year. With 585 acres of natural and geological features, including Brooklyn’s only forest and unique landscaping from Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux (who also designed Central Park), the park has something for parents, kids, locals, and tourists alike.
From recreational activities like pedal boats and skating to educational visits to the intriguing zoo, Prospect Park is the perfect destination for the upcoming summer months. Here’s a list of some of the best things to do in the area as the weather gets warmer!
New Water Play Area at the LeFrak Center
For your little water bugs, Prospect Park has some exciting news this summer! Starting this Memorial Day, a new water play area is now open at the LeFrak Center in place of the uncovered skating rink. Now the largest water play area for children in the park, the LeFrak Center at Lakeside features 41 jets and a light-up fountain at night.
Though the uncovered skating rink has been transformed into this super neat space to cool off during the summer, the covered portion of the LeFrak Center will continue to host some skating fun, including learn-to-skate, roller-hockey, and even roller derby programs with the Gotham Girls. Later in the season, pedal boats will also be offered on the Lake.
Audubon Center presents Pop-Up Audubon
The Audubon Center makes its home in Prospect Park’s historic Boathouse. Overlooking the Lullwater, the kid-friendly venue offers a myriad of activities, from permanent and seasonal exhibits to live animals and puppets. Additionally, the park holds regular children’s programming at the center, including “Animal Encounter,” “Nature on the Go!,” and “Blooming Naturalists,” which all occur at various times on Thursdays and Fridays.
This summer, the center is presenting the all-new “Pop-Up Audubon” series, which will be monthly educational programming that engages directly with the nature in Prospect Park. Appearing at various sites, the pop-ups will teach youngsters all about the enriching ecosystems around us through science and Discovery Tours. Different monthly themes like “Wonderful Warblers” and “Incredible Invertebrates” will be a fun way to keep kids interested throughout the summer months!
Voted New York City’s best playground in Time Out New York Kids by parents, Imagination Playground has some unforgettable play structures and artwork. Some of the unique offerings include a bronze dragon sculpture that spouts water, a statue of a boy reading as he reaches down to pet his dog, cutout animal masks, various platforms of different heights, and much more.
Additionally, during the summer months, a special Ezra Jack Keats Storytelling Hour will take place every Saturday at 2pm.
History in Your Hands: Flax to Linen
Throughout the month of June, the Leffert’s Historic House in Prospect Park is hosting a perennial kids program called History in Your Hands: Flax to Linen. At the educational session, which occurs every Saturday and Sunday from 2pm-4pm, children get the chance to see the park’s flax crop and try out the tools used to transform flax fibers into linen cloth. After comparing different weaves and patterns of various textiles, the kiddos can play dress-up in linen clothes for a fun photo shoot on a farm wagon! Suggested $3 donation
Prospect Park Zoo
One of the best aspects of Prospect Park is its zoo. Home to over 400 animals and 80 different species, Prospect Park Zoo offers exhibits, educational programs, and informative tours that are great for families.
In the “World of Animals” exhibit, kids get the chance to meet prairie dogs, wallabies, the red panda, the hamadryas baboon, and more! School programs like “Kinder Kritters” are great interactive programs for 4- and 5-year-olds while special summer activities include camps for any age, from one-week toddler camps to three-week teen internships.