With 21 playgrounds that are unique in design and character, Central Park offers play options for children of all ages and interests. It’s easy to find a playground based on location or age (see a map here)—but are you looking for the perfect playground for your children’s personalities or passions? We have you covered.
For adventurous types
Six of the Park’s playgrounds—Adventure Playground, East 72nd Street Playground, Heckscher Playground, Tarr Family Playground, Ancient Playground, and Billy Johnson Playground—are built in the adventure style. Adventure-style playgrounds were created in the 1960s and 1970s as an alternative to playgrounds with traditional equipment. They include interconnected play features that encourage exploration and imaginative play. The first adventure-style playground in the Park was Adventure Playground, opened in 1967; it includes maze-like features, a wood pyramid climber, and a conical climber with tunnels and a slide.
For restless youngsters
Heckscher Playground is not only the oldest playground in the Park (created in 1927), but it’s also the largest at 1.8 acres—providing plenty of space for kids with lots of energy! This playground includes swings, slides, a maze-like climber, an extensive water feature, and other fun equipment with a stunning view of midtown Manhattan. Its primary entrance is the central breezeway of the newly restored Heckscher Building—which also contains restrooms, making it a convenient place for families to spend the day.
For kids wanting to make a splash
Looking for a fun way to cool off in the summer months? You’re in luck! The water features inside Central Park’s playgrounds provide an easy and fun way to beat the heat. Water features are in every playground in the Park, except for the Pinetum Playground. Many of the playgrounds’ water features are interactive. For example, you can control a dancing water display with the push of a button at the East 110th Street Playground—the water sprays differently each time.
For children who love sculptures
Safari Playground contains beloved hippopotamus sculptures that are a huge hit with kids. The hippos are set in a “river” of blue safety surfacing, and vary in size and height—perfect for climbing over and underneath. The Group of Bears sculpture (often called “Three Bears”) is another popular statue by Paul Manship at the Ruth and Arthur Smadbeck-Heckscher East Playground. It’s great for a photo-op or climbing adventure.
For art enthusiasts
Inspired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection of Egyptian Art, Ancient Playground features climbing pyramids, a small obelisk, and sundial. Ancient Playground’s entrance also features the Osborn Gates, which contain fanciful depictions of five vignettes from Aesop's Fables. These stunning cast-bronze gates were created by renowned sculptor Paul Manship, the same artist who created the Prometheus sculpture at the Rockefeller Center Skating Rink.
For slide aficionados
Billy Johnson Playground’s most popular feature is its granite slide, which is set in a rocky hill that fits in well with nearby rock outcroppings. The curved 45-foot slide is easily the focus of most playground activity—with lines of children waiting to ride it, and caregivers and other children watching from below. Visit soon! This playground will be closed for renovations later this summer.
For kids at heart
Want to join in on the fun with your little ones? The Pinetum Playground is located within the Arthur Ross Pinetum, a small arboretum that is home to the largest collection of pine trees in Central Park. With its open setting (there is no fence), the playground is often enjoyed by adults as well as children. Along with swings and chin-up bars, the area includes picnic tables and open lawns, making it a great spot for picnicking.
No matter your children’s interests, they’ll never get bored exploring Central Park’s entertaining playgrounds! These spaces not only provide fun play areas for kids, but they’re critical to the health and development of the more than 3 million children who visit them each year.
Playgrounds are open from 8:00 am until dusk, weather permitting. To check if any playgrounds are receiving scheduled maintenance, visit our alerts and closures page.
Plants and Trees
In appreciation of this photogenic time of year, we asked a Conservancy arborist what trees you should look for this autumn and where to find them.
Tags: Fall / Trees
Things to See and Do
As deep winter sets in across the northern hemisphere, it’s worth recalling the kid version of winter in which the snow-covered landscape looked magical and playful.
Tags: Winter / Nature Lovers
Restoration and Maintenance
Safari Playground gives children the feeling of escape and adventure while climbing atop and around its iconic giant hippo sculptures.
Tags: Families / Playgrounds / Best for Kids
About the Conservancy
As we experience one of the busiest years in Central Park history, let’s work together to tend to the Park we need, and that in turn, needs us. Read this checklist before your next visit and help us keep the Park healthy this summer and for seasons to come.
Tags: Families / Summer / Conservancy Staff / Flowers / Tips for Visiting / Trees / Nature Lovers / Park Experts / First-Time Visitors