Now that it’s starting to get warmer, (even though this weekend will be in the 30’s, I have my fingers crossed that the 60-70 degree weather we enjoyed last week will come back with vengeance) I thought that a playground roundup post could be helpful for my fellow city mamas.
Living in the city can sometimes leave you daydreaming about wide open spaces, fresh air & greenery. Thankfully, we have a compromise.
We live in between both Central Park, & Riverside Park and they are both such a blessing when you have two little ones.
Central Park can get a little crowded, and is more of a hike for us to get to, so we usually stick around Riverside Drive since there are hundreds of playgrounds to choose from.
Our boys LOVE the park & all of the playgrounds we explore. Kai has REALLY started wanting Rowan to do everything with him. As soon as I put Kai in a swing, he points to the one next to him and says “Rowan in! Rowan in!”. I can’t even wrap my head around the fact that, in a few short months, Rowan will be walking around right alongside Kai. The more & more Rowan is able to do, the more Kai wants to play with him, and I’ve already seen their friendship rapidly change & grow over this past month.
If you live in the city, or are just visiting & need some playground options to keep in your back pocket, I’ve made a list of our favorites.
Good for Kids AND Parents =
River Run Playground – 83rd St. & Riverside Drive
River Run is pretty large with LOTS to see & do. Multiple Playgrounds, see-saws, jungle gyms, swings, bathrooms, sandboxes –> The works. It’s pretty popular, but not overwhelming as it’s such a large space.
This Playground is also right near one of my favorite restaurants to bring the kids to when it’s nice outside, The Boat Basin Café.
The Café overlooks the Hudson River, has outdoor seating, is causal and most importantly – Kid Friendly! Another plus, the food is actually pretty delicious for a sandwich/burger joint, and do you know how hard it is to find a decent Pina Colada in NYC? HARD! So, so hard. And the one I ordered last summer at Boat Basin was hands down my favorite I’ve ever had in the city. (*And I know service changes daily and depends on who serves you, but our service was beyond excellent last time we ate there.)
Good for Toddlers/Younger Kids =
Little Engine Playground – Riverside Drive between 67th & 69th
This playground is amazing for toddlers. It’s small, not too crowded & has an adorable little train engine to play on. Kai can play in that engine for hours and hours & forget that mommy and daddy desperately want to play with him. He’s too busy for us here and we end up feeling like Kai’s groupies that he doesn’t want to hang around with anymore.
Good for Older Kids =
Heckscher Playground – 7th Avenue and Central Park South -> 61st to 63rd streets (Near Columbus Circle)
Heckscher is the oldest & largest playground in Central Park. It has slides, swings, seesaws, water fixtures and giant rocks to climb on. It has its own restrooms and food carts to buy ice cream, hot dogs, water and small snacks/bites. Best for kids 6 and up.
If you’re visiting Central Park and need a playground that’s big and easy to get to, this is your go-to.
Overall favorite =
Washington Square Park – Greenwich Village, 4th St. to Waverly Pl. and Macdougal St. to University Pl.
From the moment that you walk in, your transported to a separate little world. There’s a section dedicated to chess games and you’ll pass by so many players waiting for their next opponent.
There are three separate playgrounds suited to infants/crawlers to older kids. One section has soy-backed SYNLawn synthetic grass which is perfect for my 10-month-old to crawl around on. I remember taking Kai there when he was first learning how to crawl and we have so many memories & photos of those beautiful summer days.
There’s almost always musicians in the park playing beautiful music (LOTS of Jazz!), and the fountain is incredibly nice to sit by during the city’s hot summer days. Some day’s magicians will set up shop in the center of the park, and on others, a man with a HUGE bubble making machine will provide constant entertainment for the kids.
Washington Square Park also has JennSwings, full-body positioning support swings for extra safety. The park is located a few blocks from the West Village which has some of the most amazing restaurants and cafés the city has to offer.