As any city-starved suburbanite, my husband and I often pack up the kids for day trips to the city. We recently headed to Park Slope. Our itinerary: the Prospect Park Carousel, the Prospect Park Zoo and the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Yes, you can do all three in one day, since the zoo and the garden are on the smaller side, and all three are huddled into a section of the park called the “Children’s Corner.” It’s brilliant.
Plan to drive in from Westchester — the train and subway would be a bear — and park along Flatbush Avenue somewhere between the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza and the entrance to the Zoo. Start your morning at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens (be sure to enter at the Flatbush entrance) where you’ll find the newly-expanded Discovery Garden.
My kids — one is 6-years-old, the other is 14 months — both loved the hands-on exhibits: climbing into a giant bird nest, hopping on tree stumps, holding a magnifying glass up to all sorts of specimens, digging in a garden, and much more.
We also wandered into the Japanese Garden, where the Cherry Blossoms and Tree Peonies are currently in bloom. If you go this May weekend, don’t miss it!
When you’re finished studying the plants, just walk directly across Flatbush Avenue. You’ll find the Prospect Park Carousel with its 51 hand-carved horses, first erected in 1915 in Coney Island. Rides are $2, and your kids will love the old-timey music.
Best of all, the entrance to the Prospect Park Zoo is steps away. I’m not exaggerating. It’s phenomenal. The Prospect Park Zoo is very manageable, thanks to its small size (12 acres; the Bronx Zoo is 265). Still, there’s plenty to see. We spent most of our time outdoors at the Discovery Trail, an interactive path that brings kids up close to turtles, prairie dogs, porcupines, red pandas, among other critters.
Note: If you’re planning to buy lunch at one of these stops, the Botanical Garden’s outdoor cafe is the best option. They have items for the kids — PB + J — and fresh salads and tasty wraps for the grown-ups.
Prospect Park Zoo, 450 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn and the Prospect Park Carousel is just outside the Lefferts House entrance to the Zoo. Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Flatbush entrance is at 455 Flatbush Avenue. Enjoy!