The 8 Best Things to Do in Brooklyn's Prospect Park

Grand Army Plaza in Prospect Park

Auden Johnson / Getty Images 

Prospect Park is a 526-acre oasis in the heart of Brooklyn. It borders numerous neighborhoods including Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Flatbush, and Windsor Terrace. There are several entrances to the park, most of which are easily accessible via public transportation.

Prospect Park is a haven for both children and adults. There are opportunities to pedal boat, roller skate, bike ride, play on playgrounds, and more. It is the home of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Brooklyn Museum. The park hosts concerts under the stars and a weekend open-air food market in the summer.

When the weather is nice one of the best ways to enjoy the park is by sprawling out on the grass with a picnic. The noise and chaos of the city will feel far away from you.

01 of 08

Participate in a Roller Skating Disco

LeFrak Center at Lakeside

JZX422 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

171 East Dr, Brooklyn, NY 11225, USA
Phone +1 718-462-0010

At the LeFrak Center at Prospect Park you can roller skate in the summer and ice skate in the winter. The center is known for its special events like themed discos where participants groove to pop music all night under the stars. It has all the equipment you need for a day of fun, and offers skating lessons. If you already know how to ice skate, consider curling lessons if you are visiting in the winter.

When your legs get tired head to the nearby Bluestone Cafe that serves gourmet salads and sandwiches. It's a fun spot to try local beer and wine as well. Hours vary depending on the season so check the website before your visit.

02 of 08

Explore Art at the Brooklyn Museum

Brooklyn Museum

 Howard Brier/ Flickr

200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY 11238-6052, USA
Phone +1 718-638-5000

The Brooklyn Museum is located at the entrance to Prospect Park, and it's impossible to miss. The mighty building is 560,000 square feet and contains over 1.5 million pieces of art!

The permanent collection is varied. On one visit you can see 3,000-year-old Egyptian antiques as well as masterpieces from more modern American greats including Norman Rockwell and Georgia O'Keeffe. The museum also hosts rotating exhibitions and special events. On the first Saturday and Thursday of every month the museum is free from 6 to 10 p.m. There are drinks and DJs, making it a festive atmosphere.

Don't miss the museum's sculpture garden that displays intricate pieces of buildings rescued from New York City demolition sites.

The closest subway station is the Eastern Parkway stop on the 2, 3 line.

03 of 08

Boat on Prospect Park Lake

Prospect Park Lake

 King of Hearts / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Prospect Park Lake, Brooklyn, NY, USA

In the middle of Prospect Park is a lake with 55-acres of waterfront. It is the home to rare birds and other wildlife. It is one of the most pristine places in New York City.

From March to October you can rent boats from the LeFrak Center — there are single or double kayaks as well as pedal boats — to explore the lake. It's bigger than it looks so bring food, water, and sunscreen if you plan on being on the water for an extended period of time. Hours vary based on season so consult the website before you head out for your expedition.

Rates are hourly. It costs $26 for a single pedal boat, $36 for a double; $16 for a single kayak; $25 for a double kayak. There is special pricing for half-day or full-day rentals.

04 of 08

Smell the Flowers at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Four-segment panorama of Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, New York City.

King of Hearts / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

990 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225, USA
Phone +1 718-623-7200

Also at the entrance of Prospect Park is the 52-acre Brooklyn Botanic Garden. You could spend all day here. There are 17 gardens and five conservatories. The garden boats famous collections of lilacs, orchids, magnolias, peonies, and more. No matter what your favorite flower is, you'll find it here. The garden holds special events, the most popular of which is the cherry blossom festival in the spring. Note: the museum is closed on Monday.

One of the most beautiful places to relax is the Yellow Magnolia Cafe that serves brunch and lunch overlooking the Lily Pool Terrace. It also has a more informal canteen where you can get sandwiches, salads, and snacks to go.

Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08

Try New Foods at Smorgasburg

Smorgasburg Prospect Park

Jana Markova / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Breeze Hill, Brooklyn, NY 11225, USA

Smorgasburg is the largest open air food market in America. It has locations across the city, and one of its best is in Prospect Park. It's located on Breeze Hill, a beautiful spot in the middle of the park. From April to November it is open every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Fridays it is open 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The market consists of over 100 vendors who have all been carefully vetted by the organizers to provide creative and tasty treats. You can try arepas from Venezuela, iced desserts from Vietnam, and soufflé pancakes from Japan. There is homemade fried chicken, baked goods, wood-fired pizzas, dumplings and more. The choice can be overwhelming, but that's why many New Yorkers return every weekend.

06 of 08

Pet Animals at the Prospect Park Zoo

Red panda at the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn

Wally Gobetz / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

450 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225, USA
Phone +1 718-399-7339

On the east side of Prospect Park, just off Flatbush Avenue, is a historic zoo. It was built in 1935 as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project, and it's still thriving. There is a Hall of Animals where you can see a neon green poison dart frog or a red crested turaco. In the discovery trail you can see red pandas jumping amongst trees and prairie dogs sticking their noses out of the ground.

The park opens at 10 a.m. and last entry is at 4:30 pm. Don't miss the sea lion training sessions every day at 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m., and 4 p.m. If you have little ones with you, head to the farm where visitors can feed alpacas and sheep. Find out more information on the zoo and farm on the website.

07 of 08

Ride a Vintage Carousel

Prospect Park Carousel, Brooklyn

 Wally Gobetz / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

452 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225, USA
Phone +1 718-965-8951

One of the most magical places in Prospect Park is the carousel. It was carved by hand in 1912 by Charles Carmel, a famous designer who specialized in carousels. It was restored by the Prospect Park Alliance in 1990. It contains 53 horses, a lion, a giraffe, a deer, and two dragon-pulled chariots, all made with remarkable detail.

Get there by using the Willink entrance of the park located at Flatbush Avenue and Empire Boulevard. It's open Thursday through Sunday as well as holidays from 12 to 5 p.m. Tickets cost $2.50 per ride or $11.50 for a book of 5 tickets. There is also a snack bar next to the attraction.

08 of 08

Enjoy a Free Concert in the Park

Music - Thao & The Get Down Stay Down - Prospect Park Bandshell - Celebrate Brooklyn

Steven Pisano / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

141 Prospect Park West, Brooklyn, NY 11215, USA
Phone +1 718-683-5600

Every summer Prospect Park hosts a free concert series named the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival in the park. It's New York's longest-running, free outdoor performing arts festival. Each event takes place at the bandshell.

While the lineup changes each year, it's always an impressive list. The 2019 opener is Patti LaBelle. The atmosphere is electric with hundreds of people packed into the outdoor arena singing along to the performer. Over 250,000 people attend each summer. Check the schedule here.

Doors usually open about an hour before the concert. Seating is first come, first serve so arrive early if you can (but don't worry if you can't. There is no such thing as a bad seat in the bandshell.)

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How to Have a Perfect Day in Brooklyn's Prospect Park