Things to Do with Kids in New York City: Playgrounds

My husband Michael and I have lived in New York City for over 21 years. I went to college here and basically never left; he moved to the City after living in Hermosa Beach, California for two years. When we got married and decide to have children, it was just understood between us that we would bring up our family in the City. Thirteen years later, we’re still very much rooted in Manhattan and have continued our commitment to be a New York City family.
I’ve seen a handful of families go to the suburbs to live in larger homes, have a backyard and not worry about the stress of the New York City school system. I’m here to tell you that you can stay in New York City, have a family and not have to be a multi-millionaire to do it. I also want to dispel the myth that NYC is a big, bad, scary place that is full of dangerous people. Just because there are tall buildings, concrete sidewalks, a lack of backyards and a lot of people (am I selling you yet?), it is the PERFECT place to bring up a family.
So, let’s get to the good stuff. What do we love to do when its nice day outside? We like to do what any family likes to do:  We hit the playgrounds! Most NYC playgrounds have mini-water parks. so we always bring bathing suits, sunscreen and water shoes (our girls love KEENS, Saltwater Sandals and Crocs!)
Here are our Top 6 Playgrounds:
1. Pier 25 on the West Side Highway.The lower part of the West Side Highway has had a major facelift and is so family friendly. Pier 25  has a huge playground with a mini water park, mini golf, a snack shop, beach volleyball courts, a mini-soccer area and a place to layout right along the waterfront. There isn’t much shade at this park which means you have to go early in the morning, at sundown, or bring a ton of sunscreen.
2. Rockefeller Park.   This park just meanders along the stretch of Lower Manhattan. It has a playground, swings, outdoor activities along the lawn and it is just a beautiful place to have a picnic and run around on the grass.
3. Pier 51 Water Park and Play Area. We love biking to this park on a hot summer day. It’s got tons of water to cool off in, and a great mix of jungle gym apparatus to keep your little ones active. There are bathrooms and snack vendors nearby as well as plenty of shade to keep you cool.
4. Washington Market Park.  This is your classic playground that has three separate sections for the wee ones, toddlers and the bigger kids. There’s a big lawn where kids play baseball, throw around footballs and or kick around soccer balls. The water area is always a favorite when it gets really hot.
5. Pearl Street Playground. After a $2.1 million dollar overhaul, this playground just opened earlier this summer. Fresh and new, this playground is perfect for the under 9-year old set. There’s a small water area and swings for the little ones.
6. Imagination Playground.  After Sunday breakfast with a cup of coffee in hand, we head over super early to this playground because it gets crowded and hot after 11:30am. It’s not a traditional playground, and I do have issues with the fact that it has set hours (10-6pm M-F; 9-6:30 Saturday and Sunday), but its good for its big foam blocks that S and O make houses, airplanes and roller coasters or whatever comes to their mind. The water area is a god-send on a hot day.
I’ll be writing posts on how we as a family take advantage of what New York City has to offer. I want to show you that YES you can have a family in New York City and that you don’t sacrifice anything just because you live here. In fact, because we do live in a 1200 square foot apartment, we take every opportunity to take advantage of what the concrete jungle has to offer us.