Hope everyone had a lovely holiday weekend! It felt amazing to get out of the city and explore some new places! I cried at Orchard House, went on a boat and ate fresh lobster in Marblehead, and dipped my toes in Walden Pond. It was everything I never knew I always wanted! And now I feel ready to get back into our regular programming!
So on that note: playground culture in New York City is hardcore, y'all. I never really encountered anything like it until I moved here. In general, apartments are so small that you have no choice but to get out of the house on the daily and troll every playground within reasonable walking distance, so finding one that you love and that is chill is really important. And yes, some parks are chill and some aren't. I find a playground to be chill if on an average day the following things are true: 1. Most of the children who frequent them are well behaved and share nicely. 2. There aren't too many helicopter moms shooting me the stink eye for not being at arms-length the entire afternoon. 3. If it's relatively trash-free, and 4. if there's a shady bench for me to sit on. Based on these chill factors, the following have become my favorite playgrounds, of which I have become a connoisseur, if I do say so myself!
BBP has been undergoing renovations for the past few years, and let me tell you, it's paid off. The entire park is gorgeous, with several large grassy areas, a summertime pop-up pool, an ice cream stand, and several different playgrounds with various activities and for kids of all ages. I love that there are separate sections so you don't have to worry about your baby being mauled by older kids or climbing too high, and that you can specifically take kids to the splash pad, but you can avoid the sandy areas if you want. It's organized beautifully with a beautiful view of the lower Manhattan skyline, Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty. Not only is it my favorite place to take my little babes, it's one of my all time favorite places in the city.
If your kid wants to get down and dirty in a real Manhattan playground, Tompkins is the place to be. I'm biased because it's my neighborhood park, but it has a beautiful enclosed grassy area for kids to run around in, as well as three different playgrounds to choose from. The main playground on Avenue A has a sandbox, a splash pad, a baby area, swings, and several large slides for the bigger kids. It's got all the things you'd need squashed into a little park. And if you want any cool-parents sightings, this is the place to go. Not a day passes when there isn't an impossibly chic actress mom or rock star dad hanging in that playground. I can't figure out if that's good or bad yet; when I look and feel like garbage I don't really appreciate when the Swedish supermodels bring their kids to the playground. This park may be too gritty for some, but I'll always love it!
Not only is this adorable playground super accessible and safe for kids of all ages, but it's smack dab in the middle of Union Square, which means that if the kids get overheated you can pop into Barnes 'n Noble for a quick story and some AC. And you're basically in the Farmers Market, so if you need a snack there is a plethora of different food stands to pick from, not to mention all the restaurants nearby. It's also super accessible from almost any part of the city, and there's almost always an ice cream truck right next to it!
It helps that this playground is conveniently located near a Shake Shack, but their safe and beautiful splash pad helps seal the deal. It is safe for even the smallest babies to play in - kids can pick from big spray hoses to smaller little puddle type sprays that babies won't feel overwhelmed in. All of Hudson River Park is gorgeous, but this place is the winner for me. It's super clean and is right on the water, so there's always a nice breeze. There are also plenty of shady benches around the entire park, so you don't have to sacrifice parental comfort for kid fun.
I know that my knowledge is limited to the areas in which I live and work, so I would love to hear about your favorite playgrounds! Always looking for new adventures to take my little ones on!