If you haven’t been to Prospect Park, you’re missing out on a Brooklyn gem.
The 585-acre public park that’s considered Brooklyn’s back yard (it’s also my backyard), was designed by the same people who did Central Park (read more about them and Prospect Park here if you’re so inclined) and it was more or less finished by 1873. The goal was to let people enjoy pure air.
Now, besides using the park as a sub for the beach and a place to tan, or to try and maintain a summer body for all that faux beaching, there’s a whole bunch of interesting things to do in Prospect Park throughout the summer.
Here they are, listed in order of what’s happening the soonest, and then the things you can do multiple times over summer’s days.
1. Listen to the New York Philharmonic for Free
If you want to step up your summer classiness, I’m not sure there’s a better (or free-er) way to do it than by listening to a symphony orchestra on a warm summer night. This summer, the Philharmonic will play in Prospect Park on Friday June 16 from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. The best part about this—besides the beautiful music and the fact that it costs zero dollars—is that you can grab some friends, a blanket and some wine and cheese and sit in the grass talking and laughing and listening until there’s no more music. It kind of makes for a perfect Brooklyn summer eve. (Info here)
2. Prospect Park Soiree
In keeping with the classy vibe (and the wine drinking), Prospect Park’s having a soiree. On Saturday June 24 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m, paying people can round up a posse, dress up in their most festive clothing and head to the park for a BYO everything kind of night. You’ll have to prep and pack your own food for the group, set your table (which you don’t have to bring your own of) and bring your beverages (only wine and beer are allowed for alcohol). The park provides the ambience and the live music. Tickets are $40 but they go toward maintaining the park, and likely, toward ensuring more things like this can happen. (Info here)
3. Brooklyn Summer Concert Series
OK, this is hands down my favorite thing about Brooklyn in the summer. The BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn Festival happens in Prospect Park’s bandshell, and two to three nights a week from June to August, there’s a free concert in the park. Artists on the schedule for this summer include Talib Kweli, Goapele, Musiq Soulchild and a whole bunch of others. For the bigger artists, get there early as lines can start to snake around the park. Security will check you on your way in, so don’t bring any alcohol unless you feel like donating it to said security or you’ve figured out an ace way to sneak it in. There is alcohol and food to buy, but per usual it’s slightly overpriced. But they have really good french fries and beer prices aren’t that bad. (Info here)
4. Hack the Park
Now that we’re good on music, here’s a more adventurous Prospect Park experience. It’s called Hack the Park and it’s put on by Museum Hack, which does lively interactive tours of museums all over NYC. I just did this earlier this month and it was so much fun. It’s like a scavenger hunt all throughout the park where you have to find certain things, like a statue, or a squirrel or the rose garden and track down hidden Museum Hack staff who will give you some history about the park and some new clues for your next challenge. Since this Hack the Park was a partnership with Fujifilm Instax, participants had to take pictures of all the challenges and print them out with the Fujifilm portable smartphone printer. There were 12 challenges and they all had to be done within an hour. Even though I live just blocks from the park and spend quite a lot of time there, I saw places I’d never seen and learned things about it I never knew. It’s a great way to get some fresh air, some exercise, some knowledge and possibly even meet someone since you could get placed in teams with new faces, and you never know…Hoping Museum Hack announces some new dates for it this summer because I would do this again and again. Follow them and stay tuned! (Info here).
If you like to eat, put Smorgasburg on your list. Every Sunday until October, the Smorgasburg food market pops up in Prospect Park from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and it’s free to enter. Roughly 100 vendors with food from all over the world set up in tents serving up things like churro ice cream sandwiches, Mexican corn, jerk chicken, fried fish and ramen burgers to name just a very few. It tends to be cash only, so bring some if you don’t want to be forced to use the one on site when you need a Dough donut to top off your day of gluttony. (Info here)