New York’s Best Playgrounds for Children
October 15, 2007
New York is the greatest place for kids. When my daughters were a little younger I would buckle them into the double stroller, pack up a couple of sippy cups, hard boiled eggs and rice crackers for lunch and go see the sights. We would do the playground hop, stopping at every playground on our way across town. My destination was either City Bakery (for a chocolate cookie) or the Cupcake Cafe across the street in Books of Wonder (for a cupcake). It was a dilemma, cookie or cupcake – which one to consume? I never had to worry about it being fattening because pushing the double stroller was such a work out. I always tried to time my expedition to coincide with the farmers market in Union Square so that I could purchase my groceries and tie them onto the stroller. The only thing I had to be careful of were the moments when my daughters would charge towards the swings, leaving my unbalanced stroller to topple backwards. That could get messy.
One warm spring day I ambitiously walked all the way downtown and took the water taxi across the river from Manhattan to Brooklyn. I got off at Fulton Ferry Landing and bought the girls ice cream at Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory located in a former fireboat house. I waited until we got to Jaques Torres in Dumbo until I fulfilled my sugar craving. There, I devoured some petite chocolate morsels. Then, we went to the playground under the Manhattan Bridge. I rested on the bench and my daughters tried out every slide and swing and made new friends with the other kids playing in the park. I had a great time talking to all the other moms and dads who were there. Parenting in NYC is a joy because there is so much that I can do with the kids that I enjoy as much as they do. Everyone is happy.
Best Playgrounds in NYC
Stuyvesant Town has multiple playgrounds. No cars in the center and a clean public bathroom close by. Whoowee! Look for Stuytown’s famous black squirrels.
Tompkins Square Park can get crowded but definitely the best place to people watch, lots of gorgeous, trendy Europeans. Be careful of broken glass.
Chelsea Waterside Playground is good for a hot day because of the fantastic water play areas. Bring a towel.
Visit Madison Square Park if you want some water play but don’t feel like dealing with the whole water scene in Chelsea. This playground is sweet and fun plus they schedule story telling.
Union Square Park is perfect after the farmer’s market. Stay away from the sand playground because kids want to take their shoes off and believe me – you DON’T want them walking around barefoot in it. Think kitty litter for rats.
The Glass Garden is NYU’s secret immaculate garden playground. It has a garden, green house, and hammocks. An oasis. My FAVORITE playground. Plus they do birthdays.
Teardrop Park between Warren and Murray Streets, east of River Terrace to North End Avenue. This playground is really hard to find but once you do it is worth it. The great slide is fantastic (I always feel compelled to go down it too) and the bluestone wall is fun. It’s near the monument to the Irish Famine which is also a good place to go because it is AMAZING. It is a built hilltop covered with Irish grass, wildflowers, thistle and has a reconstructed cottage from Ireland. Truly a surprising place in the middle of Battery Park.
Ancient Playground uptown I have to mention it because it looks so cool, though, we have never gone to it because I have usually exhausted my children by visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art and by the time we walk by, it is time to go home and sleep.
Pierrepont Playground in Brooklyn Heights. I grew up going to this playground so I have a gazillion wonderful memories here – (remember the seesaw?). It is as popular now as it was when I was a kid. Actually more so, you might have to take a number to get inside on a Saturday.
This article was written for My Urban Sherpa by Victoria Kann, illustrator, educator, co-author of Pinkalicious, and mother of two playground enjoying children.