Enter Central Park at Fifth Ave. and 84th St.
Built in homage to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s
Egyptian-art collection, Ancient Playground has slides, chain
bridges, baby and tire swings, ropes, and a sprinkler mixed
in with obelisks and pyramid-like structures. Bathrooms available.
Open daily, dawn to dusk.
Carl Schurz Park
Enter at East End Ave. and 84th St.
Clean, quiet, and located in a kid-friendly area not far from
Gracie Mansion, the play space here is off the beaten path
and therefore often less crowded than other city parks. Features
include two dog runs, swings, slides, a spray shower, and
sandbox. Kids like to watch the ships passing along the East
River. The park is open from dawn to 1 a.m.; bathrooms available.
Carroll Park Playground
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. Enter at Carroll St. and Smith
Acquired in 1853, Carroll Park is one of the borough’s
oldest. It has a paved court for pickup games, two boccie
courts, two fully equipped playgrounds, a spray shower, and
a clean bathroom, just in case. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
|Whirling around on the Central Park Carousel.
(Photo credit: Kristine Larsen)
Visit Central Park’s myriad kid attractions at your
leisure, but don’t miss the climbable Alice in Wonderland
statue (Fifth Avenue at 75th Street); the slide, bucket swings,
sandbox, and fountain at James Michael Levin Playground (Fifth
Avenue at 77th Street); the tree house, slides, sandbox, and
tire and rope swings at Abraham and Joseph Spector Playground
(Central Park West at 85th Street); the seesaws, wooden suspension
bridge, swings, and water-spewing spirals at Heckscher Playground
(Central Park South at Seventh Avenue); and the tire swings
and corkscrew slide at Diana Ross Playground (Central Park
West at 81st Street). Playgrounds are open from 7:30 a.m.
till dusk; bathrooms are available throughout the park.
Hudson River Park Playground
Pier 51. Enter at Gansevoort St.
This micro amusement park resembles an outdoor Chuck E. Cheese
set on the waterfront. Kids in bathing suits run in and out
of the sprinkler area, climb, swing on monkey bars, and gawk
at the Statue of Liberty through binoculars. Just outside
the gated playground you’ll find ice-cream carts and
pristine bathrooms. Open daily, dawn to dusk.
Madison Square Park
Enter at 25th St. and Madison Ave.
There’s never a dull moment at Madison Square Park.
Aside from the classic jungle gyms and slides, kids are kept
busy with scheduled arts-and-crafts workshops and puppet shows.
The surrounding area includes lush lawns, flower beds, and
a restored nineteenth-century fountain. Culture-vulture parents
will love the sculpture exhibit in the summertime. Open 6
a.m. to midnight; no bathrooms.
Enter at Mercer St., near Bleecker St.
This half-acre park is fantastic for kids on wheels. An evenly
paved space is the perfect surface for helmeted skaters, bladers,
cyclers, and kids on their scooters. There’s also a
sprinkler and boulders to climb on. Open daily, dawn to dusk.
Nelson A. Rockefeller Park
Battery Park City. Enter at Chambers St. and River Terr.
This relative newcomer (opened in 1992) has a pedal-driven
carousel, a rubbery surface for chalk drawing, a sandpit,
bronze animal sculptures, and a wading fountain for the tiny
ones. You’ll also find chess tables, slides, swings,
jungle gyms, and climbing nets. River views and shady benches
for mom and dad make a visit fun and relaxing for everyone.
Open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; bathrooms available.
Enter at 96th St. and Fifth Ave.
The biggest perk of this spot is its treehouse: a five-foot-high
wooden fort built around a thick tree, from which kids exit
down a pole. Other accoutrements include a sandbox, sprinkler,
six baby swings, and three tire swings. Bathrooms are only
five minutes away in Central Park. Open daily, dawn to dusk.
Playground for All Children
Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, Flushing. Enter at 111th
St. and Corona Ave.
Beyond the famous Unisphere, left over from the 1964 World’s
Fair (please don’t climb!), this playground is home
to a wonderland specifically designed for children with physical
disabilities. There’s a boat glider-swing for kids in
wheelchairs, and a crutch-friendly musical walkway, plus a
ramp-accessible jungle gym, a mini firehouse, and a set of
working play traffic lights. Open 8 a.m. to dusk; bathrooms