The designers of the 585-acre Prospect Park, Calvert Vaux and Frederick Olmsted, considered this an improvement on their other New York project, Central Park. Created in 1866, Prospect Park has many of the same features: a gorgeous meadow, a scenic lake, forested pathways and rambling hills that are straddled by leafy walkways. It receives roughly 10 million visitors a year.
Grand Army Plaza
A large, landscaped traffic circle with a massive ceremonial arch sits at the intersection of Flatbush Ave and Prospect Park West, marking the beginning of Eastern Pkwy and the entrance to Prospect Park. The arch, which was built in the 1890s, is a memorial to Union soldiers who fought in the Civil War.
The 90-acre Long Meadow, which is bigger than Central Park’s Great Lawn, lies to the south of the park’s formal entrance at Grand Army Plaza. It’s a super spot for strolling and lounging, filled with pickup ball games and families flying kites. On the south end is the Picnic House, with a snack stand and public bathrooms.
Near Flatbush Ave, the Children’s Corner contains a terrific 1912 carousel, originally from Coney Island, and the Prospect Park Zoo, featuring sea lions, red pandas, wallabies and a small petting zoo. To the northeast of the carousel is the 18th-century Lefferts Historic House, which has plenty of old-fashioned toys to goof around with.
Audubon Center Boathouse
Sitting on a northern finger of Prospect Park Lake, the photogenic boathouse (aka Prospect Park Audubon Center) hosts a range of activities throughout the year: guided bird-watching sessions, free yoga classes, nature-themed art exhibitions, hands-on craft activities for kids and more. From here, there is a trailhead for 2.5 miles of woodsy nature trails (the route which takes you along Lullwater Creek is particularly scenic). Check the website for downloadable maps or ask at the boathouse for details.
Prospect Park Bandshell
This band shell southwest of the Long Meadow hosts free outdoor concerts during the summer. Performance calendars can be found online or at the Audubon Center Boathouse.
LeFrak Center at Lakeside
After several years of construction (and a $74-million investment), Prospect Park's newest attraction continues to turn heads. This 26-acre complex features a pair of rinks for indoor and outdoor ice-skating in the winter plus indoor roller-skating in the summer (the outdoor rink becomes a watery splash area for small children), as well as a cafe, new walking trails and a small concert space. In the summer you can also hire paddleboats for a glide across the lake.
- The peaceful view from the boathouse
- A stroll along Lullwater Creek
- A picnic and kite-flying on Long Meadow
- Prospect Park is one of the best places in the country for bird-watching, with more than 250 species spotted here annually. Free 'Introduction to Bird-watching' tours leave every Saturday at noon from the Audubon Center.
- There are regular entrances along three of the park's boundaries, except along Flatbush Ave, which separates the park from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden at its northeast edge.
Take a Break
All four corners of Prospect Park have subway stations.
Subway 2/3 to Grand Army Plaza; B, Q to Prospect Park; F, G to 15th St-Prospect Park; Q to Parkside Ave.
Brooklyn's best bit of green.