Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux after their success with Central Park, this 562 acres of woodland, meadows, and ponds is considered by many to be their masterpiece and the pièce de résistance of Brooklyn.
The best approach is from Grand Army Plaza, presided over by the monumental Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch (1892) honoring Union veterans. For the best view of the lush landscape, follow the path to Meadowport Arch and proceed through to the Long Meadow, following the path that loops around it (it’s about an hour’s walk). Other park highlights include the 1857 Italianate mansion Litchfield Villa on Prospect Park West; the Friends’ Cemetery Quaker burial ground (where Montgomery Clift is eternally prone—sorry, it’s fenced off to browsers); the wonderful 1906 Beaux Arts boathouse; the 1912 carousel, with white wooden horses salvaged from a famous Coney Island merry-go-round (Apr–Oct; rides $2); and Lefferts Homestead Children’s Historic House Museum ([tel] 718/789-2822), a 1783 Dutch farmhouse, with a museum of period furniture and exhibits geared toward kids (hours vary by season; see website for details). There’s a map at the park entrance that you can use to get your bearings.
On the east side is the Prospect Park Zoo ([tel] 718/399-7339), a modern children’s zoo where kids can walk among wallabies, explore a prairie-dog town, and more. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, $5 for children 3 to 12. The zoo is open April 1 through November 1 (daily 10am–4:30pm) and October 31 through March 27 (Mon–Fri 10am–5pm and Sat–Sun and holidays 10am–5:30pm).
- Pauline Frommer