Playgrounds in New York have provided recreation, exercise, challenge, and joy to children for as long as we can remember. They’re safe places to run around in an epic game of tag with siblings or friends, burn off steam, and even learn about teamwork, sharing, and perseverance in an unconventional educational setting. Playgrounds extend what is learned in the classroom to an outdoors environment, where children have to take turns on the swings or slides, try again and again to cross the monkey bars, and work together in all of their adventures and games. Due to the value of playgrounds in child development and family memories, several playgrounds have both newly emerged and undergone extensive renovations in the past year to continue creating these special experiences. Many of the renovations have focused on safety precautions, color and design, and new equipment to keep your kids interested.
Pssst… Plenty of these new playgrounds feature water sections, but if you’re curious to know more about New York’s Water Sprinkler Parks and Water Playgrounds check out our roundup.
Billy Johnson Playground, Upper East Side
Central Park, East 67th Street at 5th Avenue
In the fall of 2018, Billy Johnson Playground reopened with exciting new additions that, if you haven’t already checked out yet, you should definitely add to your summer bucket list. While the playground has always been known for its 45-foot granite slide, there is now a second granite slide that’s smaller and more catered to little ones. As the older sibling slides down the big, granite, slide, little ones don’t have to wait on the sidelines anymore and watch- they have their own slide! The water area also received upgrades with a user-activated feature, so stay cool this summer at Billy Johnson Playground. The swing area now has bucket swings and tire swings, as well as an area to play in the sand and a rope climber. While your kids make their way up and down this playground, relax on the new benches and enjoy the day outdoors. This is the first summer of Billy Johnson Playground being open post-renovations, so head to this park today for family fun, laughter, and adventures!
Chelsea Waterside Park, Chelsea
23rd Street at 12th Avenue
Last August, Chelsea Waterside Park reopened up after a 10-month renovation period and revealed itself as an entirely new playground. The park now has a rainbow theme with the construction of a 22-foot, rainbow pipefish, which brings smiles to the faces of toddlers, young children, older kids, and even adults. The pipefish is a playground in itself for all ages, as toddlers can climb into its tail and down a little slide, while older kids enjoy the spiral staircase and fast slide. Another new feature is the combination of water and sand- you no longer have to go to the beach to build your sand castles! Water trails into the sandbox by spinning wheels, so kids can bring their sand toys and enjoy making their sand creations. Finally, there are now two, renovated water areas: one for toddlers and one for big kids, both complete with user-activated systems. Enjoy all of the new features of Chelsea Waterside Park today!
DeSalvio Playground, Nolita
44 Spring Street
Having just reopened this spring, DeSalvio Playground is a hot destination this summer for kids in the Soho area. Playground designs with a pop of color seem to be the trend (as they should), and DeSalvio Playground caught on with their red and neon green accents. All ages are welcome in this park, as there is an area for crawlers and early walkers, toddlers, and older kids. For the kids who love climbing, there’s a rock climbing wall and a rope climbing area, as well as a basketball court for those who love to toss a basketball around. There’s also a sprinkler area and shaded benches to cool off. The benches have great views of the entire playground, as they’re positioned all around, so parents, you can relax while also keeping a close eye on your little ones!
Safari Playground, Upper West Side
91st Street at Central Park West
While Safari Playground has always been a unique play experience with tree houses instead of slides and hippopotamus sculptures instead of swings, the park now has much more to offer with the renovations finished this May. Newly opened for the first time this summer, head to this playground to check out the wood climbing structures, play canoes, user-activated water spray feature, play mounds, and more. Renovations were also made to better connect the playground to Central Park, as well as provide a wheelchair-accessible route. This park is best for your little ones, ages two to five, so bring your family this summer to see the new additions and have fun in the park!
Domino Park, Williamsburg
15 River Street
Last summer, the old Domino Sugar Factory was remodelled into a play area and the foundations of this historical place characterize its experience- sweet! With a waterfront walkway and three, huge play areas, this park is sure to impress kids and parents. The playground area has ramps, tunnels, conveyor belts, catwalks, a silo, centrifuge container, elevated cabin, and wood from the factory, all in an effort to resemble the Domino Sugar Factory. The second main part of the park is the five-block-long elevated Artificial Walk with materials preserved from the Domino Sugar Factory. This area includes Tacocina, a taco stand, and an urban beach with a lawn, chairs, and picnic space. The final section of this enormous park is the Water Square, which features sprayers to cool off on those hot summer days. Don’t miss out on this family-friendly NYC attraction!
St. Mary’s Park, Carroll Gardens
Smith Street between Nelson and Huntington Streets
Reopened last May, St. Mary’s Park boasts brand new playground equipment that is accessible to all and perfect for kids of all ages. Cool off in the spray showers and relax on the new tables and chairs. There are also net climbers, planting beds, and new fences, as well as a brighter and more vibrant color design. Safety, accessibility, and, of course, fun, were priorities in St. Mary’s Park’s reconstruction, which, I’m sure we can all agree, are pretty spot-on priorities. Visit St. Mary’s Park this summer for hours of family fun!
Asser Levy Park, Coney Island
Boardwalk, Surf Ave., Sea Breeze Ave., Ocean Parkway
If you haven’t paid a visit to the newly renovated Asser Levy Park, it’s time to do so this summer! This past Valentine’s Day, the park reopened with separate play areas for two to five year olds and five to twelve year olds, featuring swing sets and jungle gym equipment. There’s also now a spray shower, tables for adults and toddlers, and improved drainage, lighting, and pathways. Coney Island has long been a popular summer destination for families, and the renovations to Asser Levy Park only enhance its appeal.
Astoria Heights Playground, Astoria
30 Road between 45th and 46th Streets
Residents, students, and administration saw their ideas and suggestions come to life last July with the reopening of Astoria Heights Playground. The playground was remodelled using community input, featuring new equipment for all ages, splash and spray water area, new athletic fields, new pathways, and an accessible ramp. Environmental-friendly systems were also installed, which, combined with the active and passive play areas, make this playground a must-visit destination this summer! Also, mark your calendars for June 22, when Astoria Heights Playground will show Ralph Breaks the Internet at 8:30pm for free.
The Bronx and Staten Island
Black Rock Playground, Soundview, Bronx
Between Watson and Blackrock Avenues and Virginia and Pugsley Avenues
Just reopened this May, Black Rock Playground shows off its bright colors and brand new playground equipment. There are now play areas for different ages, with more challenging climbing structures for big kids. Enjoy the breeze on the swings, refreshing water from drinking fountains, and the water play area perfect for the summer. There are also improvements to the drainage and water supply systems, as well as new plantings to add some vibrancy. Put Black Rock Playground on your summer to-do list and your children will surely be happy that you did!
The Big Park, Staten Island
Grandview Avenue at Continental Place
If you find yourself in Staten Island this summer, head to The Big Park to check out the, dare we say, big renovations completed last July. Another park designed by community input, new features include jungle gyms for kids of all ages with safety surfaces, spray showers, a new lawn for play and relaxation in an open, green space, a picnic area, comfort station, fitness trail, and remodelled sports courts. There are also several environmental-friendly systems now in place. Check out The Big Park with your family to make memories of play, laughter, and smiles to last a lifetime!