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NYC Playgrounds Near Top Tourist Attractions


New York City has more awesome playground these days than a parent can keep track of. Lucky for visitors, several of these NYC playgrounds are located in or near attractions you’ll want to take in and so are handy for when kids get to fidgety at that museum or on that walking tour.

If you are visiting NYC during the sweltering summer months, you’ll be glad to know most have sprinklers or water-play areas, too. Crocs or sport sandals are the ideal kid shoes for the city in summer. You can bring an extra set of clothes or just trust that the summer heat will dry your kids off soon enough.

For those moments you’re your kids need to run, climb and shout a little, here is a cheat sheet of NYC playgrounds where to you’ll be happy to take a break from being a tourist.

NYC Playgrounds for Tourists

Teardrop Park is a NYC playground in lower Manhattan If you’re exploring

Wall Street, the Freedom Tower or the 9/11 Memorial.

Take a play break at

The Imagination Playground (top) at John and Front Streets. It’s a new concept in playgrounds where the focus is playing with stuff rather than on stuff.

OR

Inside the Battery Park City complex, near Warren Street and River Terrace is Teardrop Park with one of a new style of nature-inspired playgrounds with a giant slide, rocks to climb on, a sand-play area and great water-play area for small kids in the summer. It’s set within Rockefeller Park, which has ample grass for running around on.

Both have things that will appeal to school-age and pre-school kids.

hester street is a NYC playground in chinatownIf you’re exploring

Chinatown, Little Italy, or the Lower East Side and its wonderful Tenement Museum.

Take a play break at

The Hester Street Playground, one of Tiny Traveler’s favorites. It has a sizable toddler area with playhouses and a table with a scaled down model of the city (ideal for Matchbox cars.) The sandbox area is large but it’s BYO sand toys. The big kids’ area has music notes to stomp on, a variety of neat climbing stuff, spinning seats and tire swings that hang from what looks like a Chinese character. We go here to work up an appetite before sampling dim sum, Shanghai dumplings, Vietnamese pho or Ferrarra’s cannoli nearby.

Note: This is a fun but very busy playground. Plan to stick close to little kids.

Union Square is a NYC playground with unique equipmentIf you’re exploring

Greenwich Village, Union Square or the Flatiron district

Take a play break at

The Evelyn’s Playground on the north end of Union Square Park, another of Tiny Traveler’s favorites. School-age kids will immediately shed their shoes to better grip the big silver dome everyone wants to climb. Lots of other unique climbing, swinging, sliding equipment will keep them busy, too. Preschoolers get a pretty large jungle gym and sandbox all to themselves.

Chelsea Waterside is NYC playground near the High LineIf you’re exploring

The High Line elevated park.

Take a play break at:

Waterside Park, a small playground at 23rd Street with lots of modern equipment to climb and spin on. It has structures for older and younger kids and water-play areas in summer.

 Note: When you get hungry or need to warm up, head a few blocks East to the Half King, one our go-to places for burgers and brunch.

Mccaffrey is a NYC playground in a pocket park near Times SquareIf you’re exploring

Times Square.

Take a play break at

McCaffrey Playground. You’d never expect it. But walk west on 43rd Street until you’re almost at 9th Avenue and you’ll find a pocket park with great equipment for all ages and plenty of shade. This open space is never too crowded, so you can sit on a bench and plan your next activity while keeping an eye on your kids.

Note: Nearby 9th Avenue is a great destination for inexpensive ethnic restaurants from all over the world.

This slide is at the Billy Johnson Playground in NYC's Central ParkIf you’re exploring

The Central Park Zoo

Take a play break at

The Billy Johnson Playground, just north of the zoo at 67th Street. Yes, I know, you might not need a “break” after the zoo. But this playground has a large stone slide built into the rocks that frame it. It’s the most unique playground feature I’ve ever seen and you’ll will enjoy it as much as your kids. There is also sand, water and a small climbing structure for preschoolers.

If you’re exploring

The Metropolitan Museum.

Note: The museum a wonderful tree at Christmas time and family art programs. The Art Treks family tours are very well done and work well for a wide age range.

Ancient is a NYC playground near the MetTake a play break at

Take school-age kids to the Ancient Playground, just a few feet north of the museum. Tiny Traveler loves working off her museum fidgits by clambering over and through a maze of tunnels, walls and slides inspired by the museum’s Ancient Egypt collection a few feet away. There’s a toddler area here, but overall smaller kids will be happier at the Ruth and Arthur Smadbeck-Heckscher East Playground a few blocks south at 79th Street.

If you’re exploring

The Brooklyn Waterfront or Governor’s Island

Pier 6 is NYC playground in Brooklyn Bridge Park, BrooklynTake a play break at

Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, which might just be the very among NYC playgrounds. A large landscaped water-play area is very popular in summer (this is more than a few sprinklers; your kids will get soaked), a sand-area with playhouses for preschoolers, an area with climbing towers, webs and giant slides, and “Swing Valley,” where there is always a line for the “Tarzan” swings but the regular and baby swings are easy to grab.

Preschoolers will find a playground just for them a short walk away at Pier 5. This is also conveniently close to Ample Hills, one of the best ice cream makers in New York and worth the line you’ll wait on when it’s open (warm months).

Note: The one challenge to Pier 6 is that older and younger kids will most likely want to do different things and that’s logistically challenging without two adults.

Planning a trip? Read reviews of NYC activities on Trip Advisor.

Also, The NYC CityPass includes admission to the 9/11 Memorial, the Met and many other attractions.  If you make the most of them, they can offer very good value. 

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These 9 NYC playgrounds are destinations for local families. In addition to having great and unique equipment they are near the activities visitors want to do in the city.




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