Central Park Bethesda Fountain
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

The best NYC parks for kids and families

These spectacular NYC parks offer epic playgrounds, grassy fields, boardwalks, bike paths and splash parks!

By Allie Early and Oliver Strand
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Our guide to the best NYC parks for kids will help you make the most of your sunny afternoon! Simply put, these parks amazing. Some have the best playgrounds NYC families need to visit, others have the best water playgrounds in NYC. Go to these parks and you'll find the best bike trails for families in NYC, and even some of the best hiking trails for NYC families to explore.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to outdoor activities for kids in NYC

We guarantee that this list will steer you in the right direction! All that adventure is bound to work up an appetite, so why not make plans to go out after to one of the 50 best family restaurants in NYC? If the weather is right you can have a meal that's both en familly and al fresco at one of the best outdoor restaurants NYC families love the most!

Best parks for kids in NYC

Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Photograph: Courtesy NYC Parks

1. Brooklyn Bridge Park

5 out of 5 stars
Attractions Parks and gardens Brooklyn Heights

Stretching from the Manhattan Bridge around to Atlantic Ave and the NYC Ferry Stop at Pier 6, Brooklyn Bridge Park has it all: Playgrounds, bike paths, grassy spaces, hidden trails, wetlands, a marina, soccer fields, a carousel—and the Pier 6 playgrounds, a complex of themed play spaces that will blow the mind of any kid. There is the Water Lab (a stone-strewn area with water to splash in), Sand Village (a huge sandbox with large metal slides), Swing Valley (an overgrown area with Tarzan-style ropes) and more. All this and picnic tables, grilling areas, knockout views of Lower Manhattan, multiple ice cream options—spend a day here with the kiddos and you're in Best Adult Ever territory. Hot take: Central Park might be more famous, but Brooklyn Bridge Park is more fun.

governors island
governors island
Courtesy The Trust for Governors Island/Timothy Schenck

2. Governors Island

5 out of 5 stars
Attractions Parks and gardens Governors Island

This former military base feels like somebody took a traditional New England college and transported it to an island in New York Harbor. This 172-acre park is now open May through October—you have to get here by ferry, which is half the fun. Once on the you can head to spots like the Hammock Grove Play Area, or the longest slide in NYCYou can also just wander: Bring bikes, or rent ones on the island, or tromp around by foot and enjoy the breathtaking views, the breezy air, the food trucks, the very New York combination of tastefully decrepit buildings and spiffy new designs.

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Central Park Boat
Central Park Boat
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock/Christopher Penler

3. Central Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Central Park

Central Park is more than the city's premier park, it's a cultural icon, one of the symbols of New York City. That has its ups and downs. The ups? There's nothing like Central Park anywhere in the world: It has that skyline, those playgrounds, the Central Park Zoo, horse-drawn carriages, Bethesda Fountain, Summerstage, Wollman Rink, Strawberry Fields, rowboats and more—and that's just what's around the lower loop. The downs? It's one of the most-visited attractions in NYC, on the must-see list of every out-of-towner, and it can get overly-crowded even by local standards. So here's some advice: Head to the upper reaches of the park, where the playgrounds are amazing and the park-goers mostly locals.

Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Photograph: Courtesy NYC Parks

4. Domino Park

5 out of 5 stars
Things to do Williamsburg

The recently-opened park on the Brooklyn waterfront has already made its mark on the city. With an industrial aesthetic that pays homage to the neighborhood’s past, Domino Park set up shop in the space where the Domino Sugar Refinery once stood. In lieu of factories, the Williamsburg go-to sports a huge splash pad where kiddies can cool off, an epic playground that beckons even the oldest members of the family to take a look, great views of the Manhattan skyline and of course, sweet spots where you’re able to refuel.

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prospect park
prospect park
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock/Elzbieta Sekowska

5. Prospect Park

5 out of 5 stars
Attractions Parks and gardens Prospect Park

Prospect Park is an all-day adventure! Not only are there fields, a lake, the Prospect Park Zoo, a carousel, the LeFrak Center at Lakeside (a skating rink in the winter, a roller rink and splash pad in warmer months), a bandshell with awesome summer concerts, Smorgasburg when the weather is right, the super-fun Vanderbilt Playground and the kid-friendly programming at Lefferts Historic House. There's the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the amazing children's library at the Brooklyn Public Library close by.

Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Photograph: Courtesy NYC Parks

6. Bronx River Greenway

4 out of 5 stars

This is New York City? The Bronx River Greenway has transformed this once-abused waterway into an 8-mile-long network of parks that feels far, far away from hectic urban life. The rolling landscape is great for kids and families, and links Concrete Plant Park, Starlight Park and other upgraded urban parks. Feeling ambitious? Follow the Greenway up into Westchester where the trail continues for another 15 miles.

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chelsea waterside
chelsea waterside
Photogpaph: MAX GULIANI

7. Hudson River Park

4 out of 5 stars
Attractions Parks and gardens Chelsea

Feel the wind in your hair as you take the kids on a Pier 62 carousel ride, practice putting with the family at the miniature golf course on Pier 25 or kayak on the Hudson. There are fields for sports, and some of the best playgrounds for kids in the city, including Pier 25 Playground, Pier 51 Playground and Chelsea Waterside Playground.

The High Line - HOMEPAGE
The High Line - HOMEPAGE
Photograph: Shutterstock

8. The High Line

5 out of 5 stars
Attractions Parks and gardens Chelsea

The High Line has become one of the must-see attractions of New York, an elevated park close to the Hudson River that features plants and grasses native to the area, along with regular art shows and performances. No question that wandering along the former railway viaduct is a visually stunning experience! Also, it can be maddeningly crowded—go early if you want to avoid the scrums.

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Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Photograph: Courtesy NYC Parks

9. Washington Square Park

4 out of 5 stars
Attractions Historic buildings and sites Greenwich Village

A high-use park that feels like both a neighborhood spot and a global meeting point, Washington Square Park that draws visitors from around the globe. Kids will love the playgrounds (one for tiny tots and one for older kids), plus climbing around the webbing in the Spider Park. They'll also like checking out the scene: Listen to the talented buskers play music, watch the chess games, follow the very urban and fearless squirrels forage for pizza.

Inwood Hill Park
Inwood Hill Park
Photograph: Sophia Wallace

10. Inwood Hill Park

4 out of 5 stars
Attractions Parks and gardens Inwood

There’s a unique reward for trekking to the northernmost corner of Manhattan, where you’ll find enormous trees in the island’s last virgin forest. Much of the park has never been developed; due to its comparatively remote location, the land remained rural up until its 1916 purchase by the Parks Department, who decided to leave Inwood as natural as possible. As a result, the area remains very similar to the way the island was 500 years ago.

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randalls island.jpg
randalls island.jpg
Photograph: Vincent Laforet

11. Randalls Island Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Randall's Island

Tire out the kids out at Randalls Island’s 60+ athletic fields, go for a bike ride or drop by the apple orchard or native wildflower meadows to explore seasonal events. In the likely event that you'll want to make a day of your Randall's Island trip, secure a BBQ pit and grill up some hot dogs and burgers for the little ones.

Seaside Nature Park
Seaside Nature Park
Photograph: NYC Parks

12. Seaside Nature Wildlife Park Playground

4 out of 5 stars
Things to do Playgrounds

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 Staten Island's South Shore. Eschewing the high-tech tack other city parks have taken, 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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Battery Park
Battery Park
Photograph: Melissa Sinclair

13. Battery Park

4 out of 5 stars
Attractions Parks and gardens Financial District

Go for a stroll in the flower-filled waterfront gardens, or educate the kids on sustainability at Battery Urban Farm this summer, where kids can plant and harvest their own crops during summer programs, festivals and workshops. At Battery Park, families can also take boats to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx
Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx
Photograph: Whitney Lawson

14. Van Cortlandt Park

Attractions Parks and gardens The Bronx

Stop by one of four playgrounds (Classic Playground, Sachkerah Woods Playground, Southwest Playground or Woodlawn Playground) to let the kids run wild and climb to their heart’s desires. The playgrounds also contain spray showers that come on when it hits 80 degrees!  If it’s sports you’re after, you’ll want to enjoy the numerous fields and courts for basketball, baseball, handball, football and more. Prefer to hike? Choose from tons of trails to see gorgeous trees, flowers and cute critters. Last but not least, this spot offers three dog runs and plenty of spots to barbecue.

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McCarren Park Pool
McCarren Park Pool
Photograph: Marielle Solan

15. McCarren Park

4 out of 5 stars
Attractions Parks and gardens Greenpoint

Sprint around McCarren Park’s 35 acres of baseball, football and soccer fields with the little ones or watch 'em conquer the skate park on their own. McCarren hosts outdoor film screenings during the summer months, and you can’t miss its huge pool for cooling off when the heat’s too much to bear! The park also features two spray showers, basketball, baseball, soccer and football fields, tennis courts, a playground and a dog run in case you decide to bring your pooch with you on your adventure.

Flushing Meadows
Flushing Meadows
Photograph: Liz Clayman

16. Flushing Meadows–Corona Park

4 out of 5 stars
Attractions Parks and gardens Queens

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is not only the site of two World's Fairs, but it also offers plenty of space for soccer, tennis, cricket and more. The Park additionally holds a baseball stadium (Citi Field, home of the Mets), a zoo (Queens Zoo), a science museum (New York Hall of Science), botanical gardens (Queens Botanical Garden) and six different playgrounds.

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Pelham Bay Park
Pelham Bay Park
Photograph: Courtesy NYC Parks

17. Pelham Bay Park

Attractions Parks and gardens The Bronx

Jutting into the Long Island Sound with rocky outcroppings, marshy inlets and lush forest, Pelham Bay Park looks more like Maine than the Bronx. The city’s largest park at 2,766 acres—three times the size of Central Park—it takes hours to explore. Among the massive park's attractions are Orchard Beach, bike paths and playgrounds.

Rocks Riverside Park
Rocks Riverside Park
Photograph: Aimee Catt

18. Riverside Park

4 out of 5 stars
Attractions Parks and gardens Upper West Side

At Riverside Park, you can roll your doublewide stroller down four miles of scenic waterfront with your babies, try and hit all 14 playgrounds with your older kids or involve the whole family with an afternoon bike ride down the park’s bike path. There are also sports courts and fields for public use, plus a skate park for adventurous tweens. 

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Bryant Park
Bryant Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

19. Bryant Park

4 out of 5 stars
Attractions Parks and gardens Midtown West

Bryant Park has plenty to offer your family year-round. In warmer weather, take a trip to the Art Cart in front of the NYPL to borrow crayons, colored pencils, stencils and other art supplies so the kids can make their next masterpiece nearby (there are professional-quality supplies available for adults, too)! If you’re more in the mood for a relaxing read, check out the Reading Room (no I.D. or library card required), where there are a wide variety of books available to use for free, plus kid’s furniture and books to keep little ones occupied. In summer, you'll certainly want to stop by The Lawn to see free outdoor movies (some are good for kids, some are just for adults!). In wintertime, don’t miss the Winter Village pop-up shops and free skating (ice-skate rentals are available for a fee).

fortgreenepark04
fortgreenepark04
Photograph: Daniel Avila

20. Fort Greene Park

3 out of 5 stars
Attractions Parks and gardens Fort Greene

Toss a Frisbee in one of Fort Greene Park’s lush green fields, play "H.O.R.S.E." on the basketball court, perfect your serve at the tennis courts or watch the little ones climb around on Fort Greene Park's huge playground complete with towers, ladders and slides. There are also outdoor grills in case you feel like bringing lunch!

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Madison Square Park Kids Concerts
Madison Square Park Kids Concerts
Photograph: Courtesy of Madison Square Park Conservancy

21. Madison Square Park

3 out of 5 stars
Attractions Parks and gardens Flatiron

This urban park has one very good playground, the original Shake Shack and excellent kids activities throughout the summer like the annual Kids' Fest, featuring art, crafts, theater, storytelling and face-painting.

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