Expansive and diverse much like its home borough, a visit to Flushing Meadows Corona Park with kids is arguably the main family attraction in Flushing. With so much to see and do in Flushing Meadows Corona Park with kids—including the New York Hall of Science, the Queens Museum, Queens Zoo, the Queens Botanical Garden, a carousel, an amusement park, and multiple playgrounds, plus the famous Unisphere and mega splash pad at the Fountain of the Fairs—it's more than a single-day excursion.
So bookmark this list of the 25 best things to do in Flushing Meadows Corona Park with kids and pick out a few things to do, then save the rest for next time. My family has explored the park time and again, and there is always something new to see and old favorites to revisit. Find more fun places to romp and explore in our Guide to Parks and Playgrounds in NYC.
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Flushing Meadows Corona Park has seen more than 100 years of exciting historical evolution. The area was an ash and refuse dump in the 1910s and the inspiration for The Great Gatsby’s “valley of ashes.” Reborn as the magnificent centerpiece of the 1939 World’s Fair, since then the park has been home to the United Nations, the 1964 World’s Fair, the U.S. Open tennis championships, and endless family events, children's activities, and attractions.
A note on accessibility: Given its size—nearly 900 acres—it is best to drive and park near your area of interest, though the park is accessible by the No. 7 subway, the Long Island Rail Road's Port Washington branch, and a number of city buses.
1. Explore the Playgrounds
Take the kids to one of eight playgrounds, including the Jurassic and Triassic dino-themed jungle gyms.
2. Stay Active
Play basketball, baseball, football, soccer, volleyball, and more. The park has a field, open space, or court for all of your sports needs.
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Arthur Ashe Kids' Day is an annual kids-fest before the real action gets underway at the USTA Billy Jean King National Tennis Center. Photo courtesy of the USTA
3. Watch and Play Tennis
Speaking of courts, whether you play tennis yourself, or are a fan of the pro tour, visit the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. In August, it hosts the U.S. Open, including the popular Arthur Ashe Kids' Day. The rest of the year, you can book time to play on these pro-level courts.
4. Visit a Museum
Get out of the sun and ogle the Panorama of the City of New York at the Queens Museum.
5. Rent a Bike or Boat
Pedal your way around Meadow Lake. Whether you go on land or by boat, Wheel Fun Rentals can hook you up with bikes, surreys, and pedal boats.
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The iconic Unisphere greets park visitors. Photo courtesy of NYC Parks
6. The Unisphere
Stroll past the 1964 Worlds Fair's Unisphere, one of Queens' most iconic attractions.
7. Go Hiking
Prefer to set off on foot? Hike your way along the Willow Lake Trail.
8. Fly Model Airplanes
Dust off your model airplane and take it for a spin at the model aircraft field.
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Climb astride a steed on the historic carousel, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Photo courtesy of Fantasy Forest Amusement Park.
9. Ride a Carousel
For younger kids, hop on the Flushing Meadows Carousel, created for the 1964 World's Fair.
10. Enjoy an Amusement Park
After the carousel, plan to play at the surrounding Fantasy Forest Amusement Park, with rides and games perfect for those under age 12.
11. Try Skateboarding
Tweens and teens who have taken to wheels will appreciate the Astral Fountain Skate Park. Designed by pro skaters, it replicates many city landmarks where skating is off-limits.
12. Let Pets Run Around
Bring your fur babies along for the fun; the off-leash area allows your four-legged friends to roam free.
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Play a round or two of mini-golf then explore lights, technology, space, and more at the New York Hall of Science. Photo courtesy of NYSCI.
13. Interact With Science Exhibits
Visit the New York Hall of Science and explore interactive exhibits and perhaps enjoy a round at Rocket Park Mini-Golf.
14. Take a Swing
Speaking of golf, take to the greens at the Flushing Meadows Golf Center.
15. Paddle a Boat
Have a permitted kayak or canoe? Launch it at the World's Fair Marina.
16. Enjoy Grilling
Stake out a table near a grill and stage a barbecue in Flushing Meadows Corona Park with kids for the perfect summertime celebration.
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Root for the rowers at the annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival. Photo by the author
17. Attend a Festival
Chow down on some dumplings and cheer for the rowers at the annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival at the end of July.
18. Go Fishing
If the dragon boats are on hiatus, Meadow Lake is still open for fishing.
19. Hang with LL Cool J
Find the statue of the legendary hip-hop artist that's taken up temporary residence, and listen to a few bars from its solar-powered boombox.
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The Fountain of the Fairs attracts visitors of all ages to frolic in its mist at the foot of The Unisphere. Photo by Jody Mercier
20. Frolic in the Fountain of the Fairs
Beat a hot summer day by letting the kids play and get wet at the recently renovated Fountain of the Fairs, a mega splash pad at the foot of the Unisphere.
21. Visit the Zoo
Explore the North American habitats at the Queens Zoo. The adjoining petting zoo lets you get close to goats, sheep, cows, and rabbits.
22. Spend a Day at the Garden
Tour the grounds of the Queens Botanical Garden, where a jam-packed events calendar ensures there's always something to do.
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Enjoy family-friendly fun and exceptional eats after dark at the Queens Night Market. Photo courtesy of the market
23. Explore Culinary Delights
Feast your way through hundreds of affordable food vendors at the Queens Night Market.
24. Ice Skate in the Summer
If you're looking for some cool fun, visit the World Ice Arena for some all-seasons ice skating.
25. Catch a Game
Although technically outside of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, who can ignore the close proximity of Citi Field, home of the Mets? Catch a game and maybe even some post-game fireworks.
Originally published in 2017.