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Chelsea Waterside Park
Photograph: MAX GULIANI

Gorgeous NYC playgrounds worth a visit

These amazing NYC playgrounds have extra special features that kids and parents will love

Written by
Danielle Valente
Oliver Strand

Kids in NYC have access to a dizzying array of playgrounds scattered throughout the five boroughs. From the classic swings-and-slides playgrounds and water playgrounds to newfangled designs that incorporate creative and science-based learning, there’s a playground for everyone in NYC. While every kid might have their neighborhood favorite, these gorgeous NYC playgrounds are worth a visit wherever you live.

These epic playgrounds are a feast for the eyes, with whimsical structures and colorful design elements. You’ll want to snap pics while your kid burns energy exploring all the features. Even if you don’t live nearby, these amazing playgrounds are near other kid-friendly attractions and museums, so grab your MetroCard or hop on a bike for a playground adventure you won’t forget.

Gorgeous NYC playgrounds

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  • Playgrounds
  • Chelsea
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The play space celebrates a resident of the Hudson River Park Estuary: The pipefish! He's on display in all his glory as a massive, multi-colored slide designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh (the landscape architect behind the White House, among other projects). The fish isn't the only attraction in Chelsea Waterside Playground—there are water features, a fun sand area plus a shaded region where parents can sit in a lushly-planted setting and catch a breather—a huge relief during the dog days of summer.

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  • Williamsburg

There was once a sugar factory in Williamsburg—a legacy of that industrial history is Domino Park, one of the city's newest waterfront escapes. Brooklyn's littlest residents love climbing in Mark Reigelman's Sweetwater Playground. There are slides, conveyor belts, tunnels and other exciting amenities such as Sugarcane Cabin, Sweetwater Silo and Sugar Cube Centrifuge. The lively colors and metal add a cool factor to the overall feel, and reused wood from factory floors are actually featured throughout the space as well.  

Tom Otterness Playground at Silver Towers
Photograph: Courtesy Seth Lamberton + Marlborough Gallery © Tom Otterness

3. Tom Otterness Playground at Silver Towers

The work of New York artist Tom Otterness appears throughout the city—ever been to the A/C/E 14th Street Station? The Tom Otterness Playground will delight little visitors with enormous bronze creations—the play spaces double as artwork. His eccentric slides/large-footed character hybrid at Silver Towers (620 W 42nd St) begs kids to take the plunge—and begs parents to snap a photo. 

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  • Central Park

Using the Met's Egyptian Art collection as its source of inspiration, Ancient Playground transports little New Yorkers straight to the Sahara without leaving the east coast. Pyramid climbers, water features, tire swings and other amenities are on hand when tots are in search of a fun afternoon. If the museum's exhibits are a little too advanced for your young explorers, consider Anicent Playground another way to expose them to new geographical locations.


The Seaside Nature Wildlife Park Playground in Staten Island is one of the city's most inventive: Imagine a breezy oceanside fishing cove with rustic paths meandering through salt marsh vegetation to the beach and you have a pretty good idea of this playground’s exceptional location on the South Shore. The park’s planners put the sea theme front and center with two boatlike play structures—one with a regal dragon shiphead—an open-jawed shark jungle gym, a mini lighthouse and a gleaming, anatomically correct brass horseshoe crab, just for the fun of it. Plus, the soft white stuff in the huge sandy area seems as indigenous as the salty air.

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Not only is the Playground for All Children stunning to admire and visit, but it's accessible for all little ones who want to get in on the action. Built in 1984, this is the first playground of its kind to offer features for children of all abilities, courtesy of a network of wheelchair-accessible ramps connecting jungle gyms and 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 such as 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 everyone who visits.


For kids, the highlight of Brooklyn Bridge Park is the assortment of play spaces that make up the Pier 6 Playgrounds. There's the Water Lab, with its spinning water wheel, splash pools, sprays and more; Sandbox Village, with its structures and sandlots; Slide Mountain, with its impressive wooden tower and slides; and Swing Valley, an overgrown allé with swings. There's so much to do, so much fun to have—good thing there's an Ample Hills ice cream stand close by to give your kids a boost

A former factory on an industrial stretch of the Bronx River has been transformed into Concrete Plant Park, one of the jewels of the Bronx River Greenway. The site was cleared out, cleaned up and planted with lush landscaping, but the striking structures from the old concrete plant days that were left intact make this one of the most unique parks in NYC.

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This Long Island City playground deserves a spot on your to-do list for so many reasons. The Whimsical play equipment at Gantry Plaza State Park Playground includes the likes of spinning, egglike saucers, a huge spiderweb and three posh jungle gyms. The flooring's crazy colors perfectly complement the springtime merriment, and Gantry Plaza State Park itself is stunning. Wood chaises longues face the ocean, should you want to catch a few rays with the kids, and a willow-tree grove makes the perfect spot for a riverside picnic. Don't forget to snap a few pictures of the NYC skyline while you're here! 

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