Playgrounds and parenting go hand-in-hand in warmer weather. Young kids just absolutely love climbing, sliding and spinning their way through spring and summer. When we visit the city in nice weather, we always include a playground - preferably, a really good playground - to sweeten the deal for our kids.
So I hereby present to you my five favorite NYC playgrounds I’ve visited so far as a parent. I would call each of these a “Destination Playground,” very much worthy of a visit. And as a fun little added bonus, I’ve included a solid family friendly food stop nearby each playground.
There are still many good playgrounds I haven’t hit yet in NYC, so please send me any recommendations in the comments!
Silver Towers Playground, Midtown West, Manhattan
Location: West 41st Street between 11th and 12th Avenues
At the Silver Towers Playground, the play structure is actually a gorgeous work of public art designed by artist Tom Otterness. You can’t help but smile as you watch your kiddies slide down the legs and climb up the arms of this adorable playground creature. It’s quite gorgeous. For those in Westchester, you can find another Otterness play sculpture called Big Girl Playground in Yonkers.
Chelsea Waterside Play Area, Chelsea, Manhattan
Location: West 23rd Street and 11th Avenue
I am in love with this recently revamped playground. Pack your kids’ bathing suits, sunscreen and towels and hit it hard. The Chelsea Waterside Play Area was renovated just last year and the result is so stinking adorable. The highlight of the renovation is a beautiful wooden Snake Dragon that kids can play inside and on top of, as well as slide down. A huge sand pit with wooden oyster shells has also been added and several water features remain. Read my full rundown of our visit from last year here.
Nelson A. Rockefeller Park Playground, Battery Park City, Manhattan
Location: River Terrace and Warren Street
We actually randomly stumbled upon the Nelson A. Rockefeller Park Playground one spring day when we were killing time in between a Bat Mitzvah service and party. Particularly considering it was a random find, this playground blew us away with its uniqueness. There is some atypical stuff happening here, including a large circular bike-like contraption where several kids jump on and peddle all at once. There are bridges to cross and nets to climb on. And bonus! There is also MORE Tom Otterness art to be seen and played with at this park (called The Real World).
Domino Park Playground, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Location: 15 River Street, Williamsburg, BK
Domino Park opened last summer in Williamsburg to much fanfare. Built upon the grounds of the former Domino Sugar Refinery, the playground is an ode to the park’s sweet history and was designed to mimic a sugar refinery in miniature. The park also offers visitors beautiful waterfront views and there are cool water features to cool off visitors on a hot day. Read about our visit to Domino Park in my post from last year, and if you haven’t been yet, go!
Nearby Eats: Danny Meyer, the king of restaurant hospitality, has a taco shack, Tacocina, right on the grounds of Domino Park. Or if you’re up for a walk or quick cab ride, the entire family will have a blast at Mister Dips, an air-stream that serves burgers, shakes and ice cream on a grassy knoll above The William Vale.
Pier 6, Brooklyn Bridge Park, DUMBO, Brooklyn
Location: Atlantic Avenue and Furman Street
Brooklyn Bridge Park is a huge and beautiful waterfront park along the East River of NY. Head to Pier 6 to find most of the kid friendly offerings. It really doesn’t get much better than Brooklyn Bridge Park. Plan to spend a while just wandering through the nooks and crannies of the park. There is so much to see and do, particularly around Piers 5 and 6 - you’ll find infant playgrounds, huge metal slides (aka Slide Mountain), funky climbing structures, cool Tarzan swings (aka Swing Valley) and the most adorable water play area you could imagine (aka Water Lab). You’ll also spot adults doing outdoor adult activities like beach volleyball at Pier 6, and you’ll probably be a tad jealous of them.