Prospect Park
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:Eastern Parkway and Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
Hours:6 A.M. to 1 A.M. daily
Fee: Free
Contact:; 718-965-8951; or call 311

Bathrooms: Picnic House; bandshell; Harmony Playground; Lincoln Road Playground; Audubon Center at Boathouse; Prospect Park Zoo; Parade Ground; Parade Ground; playground; Litchfield Villa
Water/Snacks: Concessions at Audubon Center Boathouse, Prospect Park Zoo, Parade Grounds, and Picnic House

Prospect Park is a mecca for day-hikers, bicyclists, picnickers, and lovers of geologic and human history.

Prospect Park
Photo by: Cheryl and William de Jong-Lambert

At nearly 600 acres, most of them lush and accessible, Prospect Park is a destination you can visit many times, and still have much more to see. Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the legendary nineteenth-century landscape architects, developed Prospect Park in the mid-nineteenth century, coinciding with Brooklyn’s rapid growth. It features their signature archways, forest walks, grassy meadows, and waterfalls.

Entering the park at Grand Army Plaza, Long Meadow, 1 mile in length, is a short walk south on East or West drive. Pedestrians can share the drives with bicyclists and skaters, or take to the network of well-groomed paths that circle and wind through the meadow. Lower Pool and Upper Pool, a pair of lakes that are popular birding sites, are at the western edge of the meadow. Just to the east is the more rugged Ravine, Brooklyn’s only forest, which is heavily shaded by a wide variety of trees. The Ravine also has a network of streams and waterfalls.

Continuing south, cross over Center Drive, the Nethermead meadow, and Wellhouse Drive to reach the 60-acre lake, where all streams, pools, and waterfalls in the park eventually meet. This confluence is by no chance of nature; the park’s water system was entirely human-made. The peninsula, which stretches into the lake, offers a view of waterfowl and provides more-secluded picnic spots. The lake is surrounded by both paved roads and footpaths.

From most spots along Prospect Park’s perimeters, a playground is within easy walking distance. The park features a ring of seven playgrounds, most suitable for children of varied ages. The park is also a welcome stop while traversing the Brooklyn–Queens Greenway, a 40-mile bicycling and pedestrian path that connects those two boroughs.

Remember: In winter, great sledding can be had near Picnic House, in the center of Long Meadow, and in the Nethermead.

Plan B:

Big and beautiful, Brooklyn Botanic Garden (Trip 34) is on the same tract of land as Prospect Park, though not accessible from within the park. To take in beautiful waterfront vistas, visit Brooklyn Bridge Park (Trip 31).


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