6 Best Sights in Park Slope and Prospect Park, New York City

Prospect Park

Prospect Park Fodor's choice
Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch, Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, New York City, New York
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Brooklyn residents are passionate about Prospect Park, and with good reason: lush green spaces, gently curved walkways, summer concerts, vivid foliage in autumn, and an all-season skating rink make it a year-round getaway. In 1859, the New York Legislature decided to develop plans for a park in the fast-growing city of Brooklyn. After landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux completed the park in the late 1880s, Olmsted remarked that he was prouder of it than any of his other works—including Manhattan's Central Park—and many critics agree. On weekends, those not jogging the 3.35-mile loop gravitate to the rolling hills of the Long Meadow to picnic, fly kites, or play cricket, flag football, or Frisbee. On summer Sundays, foodies flock to Breeze Hill, site of outdoor food market Smorgasburg's second Brooklyn location. The park's north entrance is at Grand Army Plaza, where the Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Arch (patterned on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris) honors Civil War veterans. On Saturday, year-round, a greenmarket at the plaza throngs with shoppers. 

A good way to experience the park is to walk the Long Meadow—or stop in for the occasional free yoga class—and then head to the eastern side and south toward the lake. Along the way, you'll encounter attractions including Brooklyn's last remaining forest, including the Lefferts Historic House (now closed for renovations), Prospect Park Audubon Center, and the LeFrak Center. The Prospect Park Carousel, built in 1912, still thrills the kids. The Boathouse, dating from 1905, is a stunning example of Beaux-Arts architecture. The annual Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival takes place at the Prospect Park Bandshell from early June through mid-August. 

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LeFrak Center at Lakeside

Prospect Park

The highlight of this 26-acre space in Prospect Park is the pair of all-season open-air rinks—for ice skating when it's frigid, and roller skating otherwise. Walkways, an lakeside esplanade, and the Music Island nature reserve—all part of the original Olmsted and Vaux plans—contribute to this area of the park that's a pleasant place for a stroll or skating lesson, or to grab a bite to eat at its Bluestone Cafe (open year-round). In the summer, kids can cool off at the splash pad in the summer by day, while DJs spin at theme roller-skating nights on weekends by night.

Old Stone House & Washington Park

Park Slope

This reconstructed Dutch farmhouse dating to 1699 played a central role in the Battle of Brooklyn, one of the largest battles of the Revolutionary War, and survived through the early 1900s. This small, family-friendly museum looks at the history of the site from the Lenape through the Revolutionary eras in Brooklyn from the 1640s until 1783. Art exhibits, concerts, plays, and other community events take place year-round, including a focus on the Brooklyn Baseball Club, which started here in 1883 and gave rise to the Brooklyn Dodgers.

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Park Slope Historic District

Park Slope
Stretching over 33 beautiful residential blocks, Park Slope's historic district, the largest in Brooklyn, is mostly between St. John’s Place and 15th Street, and between 7th Avenue and Prospect Park West. Prospect Park West, Carroll Street, and Montgomery Place have some of the neighborhood's most elegant homes, representing the area's architectural styles: Queen Anne, Romanesque Revival, Italianate, French Second Empire, Neo-Grec. Notable buildings that stand out from the row houses are the Montauk Club (built in 1899), at the corner of 8th Avenue and Lincoln Place, designed by Francis Kimball to resemble a famous Gothic palace in Venice; and the three 19th-century churches on the corners of 7th Avenue and St. John's Place. Take an hour or so and stroll around. The Park Slope House Tour (see Best Brooklyn Events in Chapter 1), held every May, is a chance to see inside some of the gorgeous homes in the area.
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Prospect Park Audubon Center

Prospect Park
Built in 1904 and styled after the grand 16th-century National Library of St. Mark's, in Venice, the center sits opposite the Lullwater Bridge, making it an idyllic spot for watching swans, ducks, and wedding photo sessions. Interactive exhibits, park tours, and programs for kids revolve around nature education. Sign up for a bird-watching tour to see some of the 200 species spotted here.
101 East Dr., Brooklyn, NY, 11225, USA
718-287–3400
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon.–Wed.; Jan.–Mar., hrs vary (call ahead), Apr.–June and Sept.–Oct., Thurs. and Fri. noon–5, weekends 10--1; July and Aug., Thurs. and Fri. noon–6, weekends 10--1; Nov.–mid-Dec., Thurs. and Fri. noon–4, weekends 10--1; Jan.–Mar., hrs vary (call ahead)

Prospect Park Zoo

Prospect Park
Of the 1,000 inhabitants and 170 species at the small, engaging zoo, playful sea lions and busy meerkats are the standout entertainers for kids. An outdoor discovery trail has a simulated prairie-dog burrow, a duck pond, and creatures such as red pandas and emus in habitat. A café serves lunch.
450 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, NY, 11225, USA
718-399–7339
Sight Details
Rate Includes: $8, Apr.–Oct., weekdays 10–5, weekends 10–5:30; Nov.–Mar., daily 10–4:30; last entry 30 mins before closing