Unlike old-bodies, to a child, happiness is tied to one location – the playground. It’s the one place where they have the chance to run, jump and roll around before they enter a life of grinding away in a 9 to 5 job (unless they’ll become artists, musicians or billionaires by 25). So, what we can do is find them a place where they can have some fun outdoors, far from sparkling screens. And just in case you don’t have a clue where to look, here is a list of some of the most hip and happening places for kids in New York City.
1. Printer’s Park
Of all the names, you’re probably wondering why this kids playground located in the Bronx is named Printer’s Park. That’s because the playground sits on the land which was once the estate of a 19th century printing titan, Richard March Hoe. The children’s park has undergone a phase of renovation which lasted throughout the 2000s, and now offers a unique getaway where kids can play and use their imagination in a safe environment.
2. Francis Lewis Park Playground
Flushing, Queens is home to the Francis Lewis Park Playground. The playground underwent a complete makeover after Hurricane Sandy and now draws crowds from the younger demographic with its bocce, handball and basketball courts. But, there is a lot for the younger crowd too, such as, speaking tubes, a climbing boulder and a playful sprinkler system are all highlights of the Francis Lewis Park Playground. The meandering pathways also help to spark the youngster’s imagination while they soak in some stunning views of the Whitestone Bridge.
3. Gantry Plaza State Park Playground
The Gantry Plaza State Park Playground is located in Queens and boasts of some splendid architecture by award-winning architect Thomas Balsley. The park offers some great views of Long Island’s waterfront while you walk down the metal and wood walkways surrounding the brightly colored playground. Together with a ship-like and spider web climbing structure, the playground offers a fun way for kids to spend their time in the backdrop of The Empire State Building.
4. Vanderbilt Street Playground
Brooklyn’s Prospect Park has several options when it comes to kids playgrounds. The Vanderbilt Street Playground is just one of the options of the park’s enormous perimeter. The Vanderbilt Street Playground is located on Prospect Park Southwest and Vanderbilt St. The park got a complete makeover back in 2010, which is why Vanderbilt Street Playground comes off as one of the most engaging and fun parks out of the lot. The playground features some innovative climbing structures, complete with spinners, troughs, an in-ground canal and sprinklers, everything that a kid would hope to find in a playground. Shaded wooden seating offers some relaxing space where kids and their parents can relax after a day of fun.
5. Heckscher Playground
The Central Park playground located at 7th Avenue and Central Park South is one of the city’s oldest playgrounds which opened back in 1926. While the playground was once accessed via a chain-link fence, nowadays you can enter the playground through the central breezeway. Expect to see seesaws, swings and sandboxes. A giant climbing rock that offers some terrific views of the rest of Central Park, and a labyrinthine complex of moats, bridges and tunnels which surrounds the very large climbing pyramid.
6. Union Square Park Playground
Relatively new to the playground scene, Union Square Park and Playground was completed in 2010 and is neatly nestled on the north end of Union Square. The playground is divided into three areas. There is the toddler area which is located in the Western section and boasts of a climbing platform, sand and water play area and a swing set. The Center area caters to older kids and offers some more adventurous playing gear, while the Eastern section features a tube slide and a climbing dome. You will also find a modern version of the famous self-propelled merry-go-round.
7. Imagination Playground
The Imagination Playground opened its doors in 2010 and focuses on expanding a kid’s imagination. This adventurous and whimsical space has sand, water and foam blocks in which children are able to build, play or dream. Located across South Street Seaport, the Imagination Playground was built on what was once a cargo unloading area and what’s great about the playground is that the design still holds various elements of its past, such as a rope climbing structure that mimics a ship’s rigging, and plenty of loose parts which only adds to the playground’s nautical vibe.
Since New York has had plenty of time to figure out exactly what kids want it’s probably best to move your kids off the streets and place them in the closed confines of a safe playground where they will find other like-minded little people.