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Family Fun in New York City: Central Park Zoo

Central Park ZooBack in October, my kids put our Wildlife Conservation Society family premium membership to use by visiting the Central Park Zoo on a beautiful autumn day. Located in Central Park in Manhattan of New York City, the Central Park Zoo was the first official zoo to open in the city. Renovated in 1934 with the addition of many new buildings arranged in a quadrangle around the center sea lion pool, the zoo is home to many animals including some endangered species such as tamarin monkeys, Wyoming toads, thick-billed parrots, and red pandas.

On a lovely fall morning, my kids and I made our first foray into New York City. Although admission is free with the WCS membership, parking is not. Because I drove into the city, I did have to find a parking garage a couple of blocks from Central Park, which is a little bit of a pain. I did use a parking app on my phone, which made the process easier. If you have young kids and plan on driving to the Central Park Zoo, I recommend using a stroller and/or baby carrier for the walk from the parking garage to the park. I chose an underground lot about fifteen minutes away, which allowed my kids and me to see a bit of the city as well.

Small Birds at the Central Park Zoo Sea Lions at the Central Park Zoo

Sea Lion at the Central Park Zoo 1 Sea Lion at the Central Park Zoo 2

Sea Bird at the Central Park Zoo Penguin at the Central Park Zoo

Penguins at the Central Park Zoo Snow Leopard at the Central Park Zoo 1

Once we got to the zoo, my kids and I started our adventure by eating a picnic lunch next to the sea lion pool. We got to the zoo just in time to view the sea lion feeding while we ate. My kids also delighted in watching some outgoing small birds eat our crumbs from the sidewalk! We then explored the rest of the zoo. I really loved the snow leopards, and my daughter liked the grizzly bears. My son enjoyed watching the penguins swim in the chilled sea birds house, and he really loved watching the red pandas up close and personal.

Snow Leopard at the Central Park Zoo 2 Snow Leopard at the Central Park Zoo 3

Grizzly Bear at the Central Park Zoo 1 Grizzly Bear at the Central Park Zoo 2

Red Panda at the Central Park Zoo 1 Red Panda at the Central Park Zoo 2

Swan at the Central Park Zoo Tropical Bird at the Central Park Zoo 1

After checking out all the animals in the main zoo, my kids and I headed over to the Tisch Children’s Zoo, home to the only cow in Manhattan! My daughter loved all the opportunities to crawl, jump, climb, and pretend to be animals. She especially liked the huge spider web on which to climb located next to the goat enclosure. All in all, our first visit to the Central Park Zoo was a huge success that made for an enjoyable fall day. If you ever find yourself near Central Park with a few hours to spare, I highly recommend checking out the zoo.

Tropical Bird at the Central Park Zoo 2 Patagonian Cavy at the Central Park Zoo

Cow at the Central Park Zoo Goats at the Central Park Zoo 1

Goats at the Central Park Zoo 2 Duck at the Central Park Zoo

For more information, visit the Central Park Zoo website.

Image Credits

Central Park Zoo © 2016 Heather Johnson
Small Birds at the Central Park Zoo © 2015 Heather Johnson
Sea Lions at the Central Park Zoo © 2015 Heather Johnson
Sea Lion at the Central Park Zoo 1 © 2015 Heather Johnson
Sea Lion at the Central Park Zoo 2 © 2015 Heather Johnson
Sea Bird at the Central Park Zoo © 2015 Heather Johnson
Penguin at the Central Park Zoo © 2015 Heather Johnson
Penguins at the Central Park Zoo © 2015 Heather Johnson
Snow Leopard at the Central Park Zoo 1 © 2015 Heather Johnson
Snow Leopard at the Central Park Zoo 2 © 2015 Heather Johnson
Snow Leopard at the Central Park Zoo 3 © 2015 Heather Johnson
Grizzly Bear at the Central Park Zoo 1 © 2015 Heather Johnson
Grizzly Bear at the Central Park Zoo 2 © 2015 Heather Johnson
Red Panda at the Central Park Zoo 1 © 2015 Heather Johnson
Red Panda at the Central Park Zoo 2 © 2015 Heather Johnson
Swan at the Central Park Zoo © 2015 Heather Johnson
Tropical Bird at the Central Park Zoo 1 © 2015 Heather Johnson
Tropical Bird at the Central Park Zoo 2 © 2015 Heather Johnson
Patagonian Cavy at the Central Park Zoo © 2015 Heather Johnson
Cow at the Central Park Zoo © 2015 Heather Johnson
Goats at the Central Park Zoo 1 © 2015 Heather Johnson
Goats at the Central Park Zoo 2 © 2015 Heather Johnson
Duck at the Central Park Zoo © 2016 Heather Johnson

  • Aeryn Lynne

    Oh wow, what gorgeous animals to see and learn about. I’ve been to NYC a few times, but have yet to make it to the zoo!

  • kristenione

    The zoo looks amazing! Would love to take my family there. Hard to imagine just one cow in the city when I Iive out in the country and cows are everywhere! I would be interested to see penguin I think!

    • http://parentingpatch.com/ Heather Johnson

      Me too! I am from farm country, and I am used to seeing cows out in pastures and fields. Realizing that this is the only cow for miles is weird to me.

  • Kristen Wilson

    Those are awesome pics Heather. Haven’t been to that zoo and I have to say, not much of a museum person… but LOVE looking at animals at the zoo. Thank you!

    • http://parentingpatch.com/ Heather Johnson

      If you are ever in NYC, definitely check out the Central Park Zoo. The zoo is small but really neat!

  • Lindsay Gallimore

    I’ve still never been to New York! Not even after living for 7 years in Montreal… and now we are much farther. Poop!

    • http://parentingpatch.com/ Heather Johnson

      Darn! The Central Park Zoo is definitely one of my favorite smaller zoos. Plus you can walk around Central Park before or after as well!

  • http://www.sahmreviews.com Scott

    I learned something today. I never knew there was a zoo in Central Park! Animals, yes… 😉

  • Chrysa Duran

    I love seeing your pictures! I worked and lived in and around NYC for 15 years, but never made it to the zoo!

  • Sheena

    Looks fun! We’re headed to NYC in May! We might have to mosey over to see all of this! We skipped the zoo our last trip :(

  • http://ThisMomsDelight.com/ Tami – This Mom’s Delight

    This takes me back to my childhood when my parents to my siblings and me to petty zoo in Arkansas. My dad has taken my older two children, but we’ve never taken the little guy. Boy, would he enjoy it!

  • Obviously MARvelous

    I love NYC but have not made a trip in ages and never brought the kids along. Now that they are getting older, I really think we have to change that soon! There is just so much to see and do.

  • Monica Geglio

    Snow leopards are always my favorite animals to see at zoos too.

  • Samantha

    Looks like a fun time! I hope to get there again myself soon :)

  • Eki Abrams

    This brings back memories! We used to go all the time when we lived in Riverdale

  • Dee

    It’s been a while since we been to the zoo but my kids always look forward to going.

  • Doris Martin

    Great post! I haven’t been there in ages

  • Lisa Martens

    Looks like you had a great day and made some new memories. I agree that the smaller zoo’s can be more enjoyable sometimes. It’s more relaxed and you don’t feel so rushed. I’m in Michigan and we have some really nice zoo’s in my area that we really enjoy. Thanks for sharing.

  • Shannon Arce

    Sounds like you had fun – we visited this past summer and the kids really enjoyed it! We didn’t drive though so I’m glad we avoided that!

  • http://www.enjoyfreebies.com Enjoy Freebies (missfrosty1)

    I went to the Central Park Zoo when I was a kid. Those were some great memories. Love this post!

  • http://www.emmmmerz.com/ Emmmmerz

    Aaahh! My little’s would LOVE the opportunity to visit that zoo, they are Curious George fans and want desperately to be just like him.

  • http://www.dannyuk.com DannyUK

    I’ve never been to New York, but it’s high on my list of places to visit. I definitely want to go here as well. Impressive photos!

    • http://parentingpatch.com/ Heather Johnson

      Thanks! There is so much to do in NYC! I will be sad to leave in a few weeks.

  • Valerie Robinson

    I love the zoo. Heading to NY for spring break and would love to check this out.

  • http://www.ajulydreamer.com/ Anosa

    I was in central park last October but didn’t get chance to check out the zoo, such lovely picture’s you’ve shared.

  • cynthia

    Love the zoo

  • Eugenia Nazarova

    I would like visit to the Central Park Zoo! It is a great way to spend quality time with the family! The snow leopards are s adorable! Pinned your post!

  • Carrie

    Sounds like such a fun day!

  • Hil D

    Having a picnic at the zoo sounds amazing! What a fun way to pass the day, I bet the kids were thrilled.

  • myda tahir

    ahh! missing my last visit at the zoo,
    thanks for sharing.

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