June 10th marked the first anniversary of the fabu – Instagram friendly Domino Park. Located in North Brooklyn along the Williamsburg waterfront north of the Williamsburg bridge this park was developed on the site of the old Domino Sugar Refinery. Cool fact, this refinery once produced the most sugar in the world!
What makes this park unique is that it has a vibe of modernity while embracing the rich history of Williamsburg. Built to honor the generations of Domino workers as well as families of this neighborhood, the park is five acres of absolute wonder.
Although the park is not enormous, it is packed with tons to do. When I take my kids to this park, we stay a minimum of four hours. One can easily spend their entire day at this park for it features an elevated walkway, plenty of grass for picnics, a dog run, bocce ball, beach volleyball, and more. With so much to do, how does a parent make the most of this uber-cool park? Knowing the best family-friendly spots is key as you can plan your day in advance to make the most of your time.
The Domino Park Playground
The playground at Domino park is tres chic with a Sugarcube Centrifuge, Sugar Cane Cabin, and the Sweetwater Silo as the main attractions for kids. These play pieces were designed to resemble the factory the park is named after and feature reclaimed wood and aluminum molds from salvage wheels. All from the Domino factory! My kids love this playground; however, by early afternoon, it is crowded.
Helpful tip. My nine year old can run around for hours, but for the young kiddies, it can be a bit chaotic. There are tunnels and high slides and structures like the Sugar Cane Cabin where unless you climb up with your child, you’ll lose sight of them. If you are visiting the playground for the first time, I suggest especially with toddlers you stay close. As they make their way along the tunnels and bridges if this is your first time at the playground, a watchful eye will help. My three year old can only do the slide as he tends to be pushed aside by the five and older set. Poor kid – but one day he’ll be the one on the other side and will be able to enjoy the playground to its fullest.
Water Fountain and Steps
In line with the unique aesthetic of Domino Park, the water fountain isn’t your average fountain with one spout of water. This fountain features 88 water jets, all individually-programmable! There’s plenty of room for kids of all ages to splash and play in the fountain area. A good tip to keep in mind when you head to Domino Park this summer, on the days of 90-degree weather or in the sticky humidity of August, plan to spend time at the water fountain at the end of your family adventure. When your kids start complaining about the heat on the playground, conclude the day at the water fountain, and they’ll leave feeling cool and happy! The fountain is also a great end destination because playing on the playground or eating lunch in a wet bathing suit or clothes is never the most comfortable option. This way, your kids get wet and then only have to keep their wet clothes on for the walk, car, or subway ride home.
Psst… Looking for MORE water sprinkler parks? Check out our round-up of New York’s best.
Now read closely, this is the best part: directly in front of the fountain is a pyramid of Seating Steps, composed of wood from the old factory, so moms and dads, you can keep a close eye on your kids in the fountain without getting wet yourselves. And when the sun goes down, you’ll have a fantastic view of the lighted water fountain with the Williamsburg waterfront and bridge backdrop.
If you want to enjoy amazing views of the river, skyline, and park, take a stroll across the catwalk. Suspended in the air, this elevated walkway extends from Gantry Cranes to the platform above Tacocina (which I’ll get to next!). Part of the reason why kids love Ferris wheels, and the swings at amusement parks is because being high up off the ground is exhilarating, and it’s something that you don’t get to experience on a day to day basis. This catwalk allows your whole family to experience this feeling of transcendence as they observe the world above, around, and below them.
Something to be mindful of, however, is that while the hand railings along the sides of the catwalk are safe, they are also not super high. If your kids are the ones who love climbing on the outside of the playground slide (like mine!) then watch them on your catwalk stroll. I’d recommend tiring them out a bit first so that by the time the stroll along the catwalk their need to climb and high energy play will be out of their system. Overall, this walkway is a wonderful experience for families, so just time it right and be aware along the way!
Delicious Mexican Food for the Kids
With its outdoor seating, delicious menu, and bright colored design, Tacocina is the family-friendly place to be this summer. While Tacocina is great for a mid-day break at the park, you could also skip the park one day and bring your kids to Tacocina for lunch. The Mexican inspired menu features a variety of creative tacos, chips, and salsa or guacamole, and drinks. Love and care go into these tacos, as Tacocina presses its tortillas, using a heritage breed of corn from coastal Oaxaca in southern Mexico. My kids love grabbing their taco favorites and sitting outside to enjoy them. Tacocina is also open seven days a week, year-round, so you have plenty of opportunities to check out this delectable destination.
The list of things to do at Domino Park seems to be never-ending because, in addition to its main features, the park hosts a series of events during the summer for more family fun. One of my favorites is “Domino Kids! Story Time”. Williamsburg Library teams up with Domino Park for an hour of reading out loads of new stories and classic tales. The next story time event is June 23 2019, 10-11am, so mark your calendars! I love story time because it’s a great way to start the morning off with a dose of education and learning. Even when school is out, the learning doesn’t stop! Afterward, you can spend time at the playground or water fountain so your kids can release some of that built up energy during story time.
Another event to keep on your radar is the North Brooklyn Run on June 22, hosted by Patrol Borough Brooklyn North. Whether you walk the 5k, competitively run, or wog (a mix of walking and jogging) it, a 5k is the perfect summer event for families. All proceeds go to the NYPD With Arms Wide Open, which is an organization that supports cops and their families who have children with special needs. And with Domino Park’s beautiful views, the run will surely be a pleasant experience. Your kids will surely feel a rush of accomplishment and confidence when they cross the finish line, so sign up today for the 5k (8am-3pm)!
Domino Park offers several events in June. A community favorite is the Dominos with the Federation Hispana de Domino where you can come to play dominos with your family (June 23-30, 2-5pm). Another popular event is the Improv Meetup with ImprovNow, where all levels are welcome to come and make up a scene or story (June 23, 6-8pm). For your little artist, they’ll love Sketch the View, a free art workshop with the Williamsburg waterfront as inspiration (June 25, 6-8pm). Keep checking the events calendar to see any new events for July and August!
In addition to events, Domino Park also includes special features. We all know that a dog is a family’s best friend, so bring your furry friend to your family outing and visit the Dog Run! All breeds and sizes are welcome. Just a tip, though, while your furry friend is surely loving and friendly to your kids, not all dogs will be. Domino Park does have a policy that dogs with aggressive behavior must leave the Dog Run immediately but be mindful about the dogs around your family. Most dogs love attention from kids and adults, but you never know- there are a select few who don’t. But the Dog Run is a great place for your dog to get some summer sun, and your kids will love playing with their dog at the park.
You don’t have to travel to San Francisco to see the cloud of fog anymore, because Domino Park creates it at the Fog Bridge. Especially if your kids have never seen a large amount of fog before, they’ll love the experience watching and stepping into the wondrous fog. If you get a chance, check out the Fog Bridge at night, when the fog is lit up for a capturing sight!
The final feature I’ll mention is Beach Volleyball, bringing the authentic beach experience to Domino Park this summer (although there is no playing in the sand allowed at this “beach”). If you plan to visit Domino Park with a few other families or neighbors, start up a volleyball game. You can make a reservation in advance or just drop in. If you decide to drop-in, you may have to wait up to an hour for the current game to end before your family can take the court. Volleyball is both a classic summer and family-friendly sport that your kids, especially for young children and older kids, will get a kick out of as they work together as a team.
So celebrate the anniversary of Domino Park by spending a few family days there this summer. There is so much to do, so spread it out over the next three months, and keep in mind these tips and tricks for when you go. In a park overloaded with activities and crowds of people, it can sometimes be overwhelming for moms and dads with young kids. But if you head to the family-friendly spots, you’re guaranteed to have a fun and safe day at Domino Park, with plenty of memories to hold onto afterward. But of course you have to capture the moment in a photo too, so be sure to take plenty of cute, family photos for Instagram while you’re at it (be sure to get the waterfront in the background)!