A Note From Noah

To honor the weather, I’m going to keep it light – let’s talk about playgrounds! With the summer looming, here is a collection of awesome playgrounds that will get your child exploring the city. Arranged (mostly) south to north, you won’t find anything on this list in the Upper West or in Central Park.

South St Seaport:

Imagination Playground – Down by the Brooklyn Bridge, right on the water. Your child will recognize right away that this playground uses the same blue blocks that we have in our 3rd floor gym. Along with the blocks, there is a nice water feature which has a shallow wading area perfect for infants and toddlers. The sand box dominates the rest of the playground and encourages children to be creative in the ways they use it. There are large ship-like masts that make it fit right in to the Seaport area. A highlight is the large yellow slide. After the playground make sure to walk out on the water front along Pier 15 for fantastic view of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges.


Pier 25 Playground – Extending right out onto the water from N Moore St, this is a neat playground with whimsical water features that surprise you by dumping water from quite high up. Keep going further down the pier for a mini golf, further for a beach volleyball court, and further still for an oyster bar on a boat! A skatepark right near the entrance adds even more fun people-watching.

Rockefeller Park – A personal favorite for me and Jonah; walk west on Murray St until the river. The playground is part of a larger waterfront park that really offers everything, including sports equipment and board games on loan from the park office, and a large grass field overlooking the water with a view of the Statue of Liberty. The playground itself has an old-school vibe, and features Manhattan’s only pedal-powered carousel, a must-try.  There is also a small water feature and two sandbox areas. Ferries and Water Taxis come and go from the dock right next door.

Teardrop Park – A hidden gem! Walk west on Warren St and turn left just before the river. This is a tiny, quirky playground, tucked in between apartment buildings. The attraction here is a longgggggg slide, depositing you right into a sandbox. The whole playground is integrated into a rock feature, providing plenty of chances to explore, scamper, and hide out. There is no “climber”, just the rocks. The water feature comes right out of the rock, with gently dripping water to play with. This is less of a “destination” then the others and more likely something you could tack on to another outing.


Vesuvio playground – An old-school playground with one outstanding feature – a public pool 3’ deep! Adults are required to enter with children; rinsing showers and restrooms available as well. The playground itself is fairly basic, so go with the pool in mind. At the corner of Spring and Thompson.

West Village:

Bleecker Playground – this one’s more about the neighborhood vibe then the playground elements. Locals have taken to leaving used toys and trikes for all to play with, giving it a very homey feel. Located in the triangle between Hudson, Bleecker, and 11th St.

Pier 51 playground – Two blocks south of the Whitney, right on the river; pair the two together for a full day’s outing. The playground features a lovely, winding water element, creating a river throughout the other elements. Right out on the pier, showcasing water views in every direction.

Lower East Side:

Hester St Playground – Similar to Bleecker, the playground doesn’t jump out at you but the neighborhood does. An old-school vibe on the climbing elements, the playground is tucked right in the thick of the Lower East Side, at Hester between Chrystie and Forsyth. Walk north a few blocks for Russ & Daughters or the Tenement Museum.

Union Square/Madison Square:

Evelyn’s Playground – Right inside Union Square Park, a tiny playground full with fun features. Cleverly designed, there’s a lot to do, climb, and explore. It all looks like a modern sculpture garden and a playground were mashed together

Moira Ann Smith Playground – Right inside Madison Square Park. Nothing fancy here, your basic playground elements (water feature but no sandbox). You already know there’s a Shake Shack right there!


Chelsea Waterside Park – Tucked between 11th and the highway at 24th St. Come here on a hot day and enjoy the many different water features. This is a small playground but packs a powerful punch, with multiple water elements throughout. Pair this with the Highline nearby.

East Side:

Carl Schurz Park – The largest East Side playground. Great river views, and a huge space to run around inside the playground. A fantastic water feature. Covering 84th to 89th east of East End Ave.


Playground 123 Bear Park – In Morningside Park at 123rd St. Fun water feature with tall spray elements, and a river with a bridge. No sandbox, but a basketball court.

Northern Manhattan:

Anne Loftus Playground and Jacob Javits Playground – these two playgrounds bookend Fort Tryon Park to the north and south, respectively. They both have older elements, so nothing fancy, but a great reason to make a trip to Fort Tryon. Take the train up to either one to get started, and then spend an hour or two exploring the park while walking towards the other playground. Make sure to walk through Stan Michels Promenade for gorgeous flowers and sweeping views of the river and the New Jersey cliffs.

I'd love to hear other non-local playgrounds your family likes, and want to hear if you make it to any of the playgrounds on this list.

Shabbat shalom,


Wednesday, May 30: Join us for wine and welcoming new parents at our New Family Cocktail Party, 6:00-7:30pm in the JCC lobby. If you are a “buddy” for an incoming family we especially hope to see you there.