We’ve rounded up all of our intel on the best NYC parks and playground for kids here—Manhattan playgrounds, Brooklyn playgrounds, playgrounds for toddlers, shady playgrounds and more. Pack up some water, chalk and snacks and go play!MoreLess
One of the newest playgrounds in the city, the Chelsea Waterside Play Area in Hudson River Park has always been a popular spot for locals and otherwise. Play structures include a giant, one-of-a-kind, multicolor Robina wood pipefish (found in the Hudson), and a 64-foot wooden slide. You'll also find sprinklers, a large sandpit, and limestone cattle head sculptures salvaged from an old building in the meatpacking district.
Much-beloved by the community (and taken extra special care of, thanks to The Playground Project), Hippo Playground takes its name from the impossible-to-miss Bob Cassily hippopotamus statues found "frolicking" in the park. There's something for all ages here, including swings, a wood play structure, jungle gym, a slide, a soft play surface, sand pit, and spray fountain. There's also picnic tables, and shade, to keep everybody cool.
You'd be forgiven for thinking this is called "Union Square Playground", because it anchors Union Square Park on the north side. A good spot for kids of all ages, the park has climbing structures, slides, swings, a gentle water feature in warmer weather, a generous sandbox, and a big giant silver dome to scale. A great spot to play in the heart of the city, and steps from the Union Square subway lines, making it easy to get to, and leave.
Way on the west side in the 40s, sits a gentle giant waiting to be scaled and slid down. The Tom Otterness Playground sits between two apartment buildings and it features a massive play-sculpture by the artist who gives the spot its name. (If the towering metal man looks familiar, it's probably because Otterness' whimsical work, "Life Underground", featuring similar tiny beings and alligators emerging from manholes, inhabits the subway station at 14th Street and 8th Avenue.)
It’s been called “a battleground for chess enthusiasts,” but Washington Square Park (home to the famous arch) is so much more than that. For starters, it’s gone through some major renovations, so if your kids love to climb, this is a must-visit. Washington Square Park actually contains three playgrounds. The first is a small kids' playground for newly-minted walkers (that also has an infant swingset). There's also a play space for older kids where they can dig in the sand and run amok.
This one is at the very least, the buzz of Brooklyn families, as it’s part of of the recently-opened Domino Park, a five-acre park built on the former site of the Domino Sugar Factory in North Williamsburg. Providing gorgeous views of the East River, Domino Park is home to a one-of-a-kind playground designed by Mark Reigelman that's inspired by the sugar refining process. It’s as fun to play in as it is to look at, with slides short and steep, ladders to scale, web tunnels and pulleys.
While not exactly a playground, Pier 3 is worth checking out with the kids for at least a couple of reasons. First, it's the final pier to be converted to park space in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Second, it's home to numerous interactive pieces, many of which happen to demonstrate scientific principals of sound and light. On one part of the pier, hedges of various shapes and sizes create a natural labyrinth with surprises around every turn.
Located next to the Prospect Park bandshell, this enormous playground was designed with music in mind. Little ones will find the harp and trumpet-shaped sprinklers totally refreshing in warmer weather. When they're done, they can clang out a tune on the larger-than-life xylophones. Jungle gym equipment areas featuring slides, ramps and ladders are available for both toddlers and big kids.
Ok, the actual playground itself is nothing extraordinary, but the namesake of the park, is. (Still, any kid would be happy to rock out here for a while.) Named for native Brooklynite and Beastie Boy/filmmaker/activist Adam Yauch, AKA M.C.A., this slice of park hugging the BQE was renamed in his honor in 2013, one year after his death. That's cool, but what's even cooler is that this is the park where Yauch himself played as a child, even, apparently, learning to ride a bike here.
The Playground for All Children is the first playground constructed in the United States for disabled and able-bodied children. It served as a prototype for similar sites across New York City, the United States, and the world. Designed for kids ages three to 12, the playground offers opportunities for social, cognitive, sensory and motor stimulation, with accessible slides, swings, a bridge, water wheel area, Nature Interpretive Trail and more.
Located on the south end of Yorkville's lovely Carl Schurz Park (also home to the mayoral residence, Gracie Mansion) Catbird Playground takes its name from a James Thurber short story. You'll find climbing structures, swings, monkey bars, rings, a sandbox and spray showers—all under the cover of shade mature trees. The park, home to two dog runs, is also known for being very dog-friendly.
It's so limiting to think of shade coming just from trees. In the city—and in proud industrial Brooklyn neighborhood of Gowanus—the shade comes from train tracks overhead. It sounds counter-intuitive, but this playground, located beneath the F/G train overpass, is a pleasant place to spend some time. It's a fresh addition to the area (it opened in the spring of 2018 after an investment of $1.35 million) and features ADA accessible playground equipment for kids of all ages.
Perfect for hot weather fun, this play area has dozens of water jets shooting out periodically, and a playtime favorite for the regulars is bringing buckets and cups to fill and dump. The Splash Pad is open daily from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. If you’re hungry, grab a bite at the Bluestone Cafe. Want to do something while drying off? Rent a bicycle or or boat for a spin on land or the lake.