The best kids' playgrounds in NYC
The reimagined Domino Sugar Refinery opened as a public park in summer of 2018, complete with a huge splash pad surrounded by seating, a playground with a throwback to Brooklyn's industrial era, stunning waterfront views—even a taqueria by Danny Meyer (Tacocina) that serves cocktails for the 21+ crowd. All ages.
This Brooklyn playground—which just received $2 million in renovations—is a great place to bring the whole family. While kids are enjoying new play equipment like slides and jungle gyms, the older crowd can spruce up on exercise routines in the new fitness area. All age groups can come together under the game table for a round of cards, checkers and more. All ages.
Though this is the Central Park's smallest playground, it certainly makes the most of its space. The venue includes a user-activated water spray feature (perfect for those summer scorchers), a sandbox with an accessible sand table and water source and brand-new play equipment and site furnishings. Don't forget to take a peek at the Harlem Meer's gorgeous views while your kiddos play. All ages.
When you're not busy biking, crafting with pop-up art projects, admiring outdoor art installations or getting your green on at the urban farm, swing by Randall's Island's Scylla Playground, where kids can run, slide, swing and climb down multi-colored slides and jungle gyms. When the summer gets extra toasty, make sure to visit the spray showers and top it all off with a quick lunch at the nearby picnic area. All ages.
Hurricane Sandy might have taken a serious toll on the Rockaways, but the area has made its comeback (and taken steps to up its resiliency). The NYC beach getaway offers plenty of sandy fun by the sea, but if your child prefers splashes in a safe playground environment, then the Beach 30th St Playground boasts climbable areas and sprinklers galore. Little bathers can run under a series of blue arches that will soak them from head to toe and a ship playscape will have kids battling it out with water-shooting cannons to become king of the high seas! Are your kids in need of dry land? Don't miss out on the playground's jungle gym when your kiddies are all dried up. All ages.
Waterfront parks are having a moment, so if your kiddos can play while taking in breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline, why not? Hunter's Point South Park's playground boasts accessible equipment for all little visitors, including swings, ground-level play features and more. Be sure to stop by the volleyball and basketball courts or take your little crew for a bike ride through the cycling routes. All ages.
Big Bush Park Playground just received $1.8 million in upgrades, and Queens families will love spending time at this outdoor oasis. When the weather gets wickedly hot, little ones can enjoy rendezvous through the new splash and spray showers. After they drive off, they can run through the bright-green jungle gym. Moms and dads will be able to relax in the new seating area or enjoy the game tables while kiddos play. Fitness areas are also available for those who want to sneak in a workout in between playground pitstops. All ages.
Not all of NYC's dinosaurs are Museum of Natural History residents. In fact, there are two fiberglass dinosaurs, a triceratops and a hadrosaur hanging out in Riverside Park near the jungle gym and slides. Who wouldn't want to have a playground outing with some of these extinct creatures? Little paleontologists will swoon over this space. All ages.
Our list of things to do in Central Park would not be complete without a visit to this famed playground. Though currently undergoing some renovations, we can’t resist time spent in the sand area, watching our kids play amongst rustic summerhouse-like structures made of wood and, of course, we can’t help but love (and feel a little jealous) of the 45-foot-tall, carved-granite slide. Can those kiddies make room? Central Park, east side at 67th St (centralparknyc.org)
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 Central Park playgrounds of yore. Central Park, midpark between 61st and 63rd Sts (centralparknyc.org)
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.