Let’s Go to Prospect Park

After 20 years of living in Manhattan, we recently moved to America’s third largest city, the borough of Brooklyn (see Biting the Bullet in Brooklyn for more about our first impressions).  In celebration of our move, we will be spending the last few weeks of summer exploring this diverse borough and learning about all of its fantastic offerings.  Here is the first in a series of posts about the various “hoods” of BK.

This past weekend, the latest expansion of Citibike in Brooklyn, inspired me to grab a bike and explore Prospect Park.  A straight shot from Fort Greene down Vanderbilt Ave. brought me to the impressive Grand Army Plaza complete with the Soldiers and Sailors Arch and The Bailey Fountain.  Every time I pass this monument I am struck by just how European it feels.  Well worth a visit when you come to Brooklyn!

IMG_7130Immediately upon entering the park at Grand Army Plaza, I could feel the vibe would be different compared to Central Park in Manhattan.  The delicious smell of roasting BBQ’s was the first thing I encountered – something not permitted in Central Park.   Since I was on my bike, I decided to follow the bike paths around the park.  On my way around the loop, I encountered countless groups of friends, families and dogs spending the afternoon cooking around a grill, throwing a ball, playing tag, or just relaxing on a blanket.  Along the way, I passed a bandshell where there is a great lineup of performances, and a festive place called Drummer’s Grove where the Congo Square Drummers do a drum circle on Sundays and others can be seen (and heard) jamming at just about any time of day.  Of course, I also explored the beautiful lake complete with ducks, canoes, paddle boats and lots of lakeside sunbathers.

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A park must is the Prospect Park Zoo, where we have already spent many afternoons watching the sea lions at the Sea Lion Court or the prairie dogs on the Discovery Trail.  Several other park highlights include The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, the seven playgrounds located mainly around the perimeter of the park, and the Lefferts Historic house for a step back in time.

As a family, we are always trying to find ways to engage our tweens and teens to keep them interested.  For a fun afternoon in the park with your teen, try and create a scavenger hunt to see who can find the following notable statues in the park:

Abraham Lincoln, Mozart, Beethoven, Edvard Grieg, Sir Thomas Moore, Washington Irving, Marquis de Lafayette, the Lioness and Cubs, Dragon Fountain, Peter & Willie, or Boy and Dog.

While the outer loop of Prospect Park is only  a 3.35 mile long bike ride, no one warned me about the giant hill at the end of that loop.  I’m a big biker but on my little ‘ol 3-speed Citibike, I downshifted to first gear way to soon and although I managed to make it up the hill without having to walk the bike (the horror!!), it was not so easy!

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