Need a fun family adventure? These kids' playgrounds can't be beat!
When we think of NYC landmarks, we might first think of Lady Liberty or the Empire State Building—for kids, sweet kids' playgrounds are as much (if not equally) a warm weather priority. Without a doubt, some of the city's playgrounds are certainly better than others! We especially love ones that incorporate interesting climbing structures, unique themes and even crazy designs like Tom Otterness' famed design. There are also classics to visit, like Hecksher Playground, Ancient Playground and these cool playgrounds with famous artwork in NYC.
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Kids' playgrounds in NYC
Billy Johnson Playground
Plenty of sparkling new playgrounds in centralparknyc.org)are tricked out with posh design elements and expensive equipment, but we chose this oldie but goodie because its charms have withstood the test of time. An extensive sand area, rustic summerhouse-like structures made of wood, and a stone bridge alone would endear it to local families, but the coup de grace is the 45-foot-tall, carved-granite slide that awaits in the playground’s leafy back. Shiny, smooth and pretty darn fast especially when kids use stray pieces of cardboard to sit on, the “ride” is well worth the wait on line along the steep rocky path leading to the top. Central Park, east side at 67th St (
Central Park’s oldest and largest playground is also one of its best, thanks a top-to-bottom renovation (it reopened in 2006) that cleverly connected it to Umpire Rock, the Manhattan schist outcropping behind it: Kids not only get to a scale stone pyramid but, after crossing a small bridge, an actual cliff, too. (Consider packing a lunch for a picnic on top). Colorful, rubber-topped humps change up the usual flat landscape and divide the area for smaller kids, complete with a dedicated tot water area and an enormous sandbox with a climbing net, from the main complex of tunnels, moats and bridges, and the bigger kids’ spray fountains. An old-school spot with a single metal slide and two popular tire swings on the far western edge is a sweet nod to the centralparknyc.org)playgrounds of yore. Central Park, midpark between 61st and 63rd Sts (
Playground for All Children
Built in 1984, this Queens playground designed to accommodate children with and without disabilities was the first of its kind in the country. A network of wheelchair-accessible ramps connect various jungle gyms, with Braille signs marking the way. A mini village beckons kids with a one-room schoolhouse, complete with a chalk blackboard, a fire station, a house with flower boxes, and vehicles like a fire engine and a bus to drive, all cozy nooks for play-and-pretend. Basketball courts surrounded by amphitheater seating, plus a faux river encircling a sprinkler area with ample shading, ensure unfettered fun for every child who visits. Corona Ave at 111th St, Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, Queens (nycgovparks.org)
Tom Otterness Playground
Have your kids ever scaled a statue? The usual response is "Hey, don't touch that!" This time, climbing, swinging and sliding are actually welcome—Tom Otterness' whimsical public sculpture is made just for kids. It offers three slides, ladders and a tower. To check out more of the artist's famed works, you may want to ride over to the 14th St Subway station. Silver Towers on 42nd St between 11th and 12th avenues (tomstudio.com)
Play:ground is an exciting new addition to Governors Island as of summer 2016, thanks to its Kickstarter success. It's different from all the other playgrounds in the best possible way: It's made of found and donated materials, so kids will need to use their noggins to create their dream playscape. Kids can interact with loose parts like wood planks, cardboard, tires, hay bales and fabrics, and it's also fully stocked with tools for building—think hammers, nails, saws, tape, glue, paint, chalk, dirt (for mud!) and water—no plastic tools here! That being said, there are staff playworkers to help supervise—they act as "playground lifeguards" and help facilitate free play where necessary, plus they also help kids learn new skills responsibly.
Governor's Island (govisland.com).
NYC Playgrounds Map
More fun things to do with kids
There are plenty of outdoor activities for kids in New York City—many you'll even love doing as a family! When you're not busy cuddled up with our favorite family movies on Netflix and our list of the best kids movies (come on—it's time to head outside!), you'll love exploring the coolest family attractions and the other amazing outdoor activities this amazing city has to offer.