The Best-Kept Secrets of Brooklyn Bridge Park
By Megan Bailey

The Best-Kept Secrets of Brooklyn Bridge Park

August 4, 2016   |   Family Outings  

  
Brooklyn Bridge Park is an iconic waterfront play space for kids of all ages, a relaxing getaway for parents, and not to mention, it has one of the best views of Manhattan in all of the city (and only a subway stop away on the 2 or 3 train). Plus, it’s big enough to make it a day-trip.
    

Brooklyn Bridge Park stretches 1.3 miles along the East River and is located below the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge. Brooklynites can also see the park from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade—a spectacular viewing spot of the water and the city. This modernized park includes six piers, as well as Empire Fulton Ferry, John Street, and Main Street. But for this purpose and for our kid’s sake, we are going to dive deep into each pier and what they have to offer children of different ages and interests.
 

Pier 1 (and Fulton Ferry Landing)

After entering the park at Old Fulton Street, you’ll come across the Fulton Ferry Landing, located next to Pier 1. Here you will find eateries, music, and a place to relax with your family while overlooking the most perfect panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline. So for you hip moms, get your cameras out for that Insta pic. This was also the most crowded area of the park, and seemingly not as kid-friendly as the rest.
    

brooklyn bridge park pier 1
Julienne Schaer

You can enjoy the view of the Manhattan skyline on the Pier 1 lawn.

   
At the Fulton Ferry Landing there are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat. These include No. 7 Sub, Luke’s Lobster, and the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. Enjoy your food while listening to tunes coming from Bargemusic, at which live music is played on the boat five days a week year-round. The East River Ferry and New York Water Taxi depart from the landing as well, and there is a stand nearby where you can buy tickets to take your family out for a relaxing ride along the river.

The concessions at Pier 1 include the refreshing Lizzmonade and Brooklyn Bridge Garden Bar if you want to enjoy some dinner, or come back for a drink after the kids hit the hay!

Lastly, Pier 1 has its own playground, a circular park hidden by the surrounding trees (it actually took me a while to find). It’s your basic playground here with climbing fixtures, small slide, and playhouse.
 

Pier 2

Pier 2 might be your child’s favorite stop of all, especially for the bigger kids and the sporty ones. Here, you will find any and all games and sporting courts that a child could imagine: five basketball courts (two covered), bocce (similar to outdoor bowling) courts, three shuffleboard courts, a huge turf field, and six tennis and handball courts (no nets, just a wall where you bounce the ball off of yourself). On top of that, there is a fitness area with plenty of strength machines designed to get your body moving, where I spotted parents and kids working out side-by-side.
    

brooklyn bridge park pier 2 exercise equipment
Julienne Schaer
Parents and children can work out side by side on Pier 2's exercise equipment.

  
A newer feature to the park (but a throwback for most of us) is the roller rink, for open skating as well as recreational league play. It is positioned next to an admission booth, picnic tables for relaxing, and rental stand where skate rentals are available for $6.

Smaller children will enjoy a swinging area, as well as hopscotch and four square—two games kids cannot resist when recess time comes around.

For some summer fun, free kayaking sessions are available from June to August, although offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Minors must have a waiver form signed by a guardian. Minors ages 14-17 can kayak by themselves if a guardian remains present, and minors ages 13 and younger are permitted if accompanied by a guardian. Only one child per boat is permitted. Youth kayaking programs are also available.
 

Pop-Up Pool

For those days when it’s just too hot to be outside, this hidden gem of Brooklyn Bridge Park awaits you. Located between Piers 2 and 3, your children can swim freely while you tan with your toes in the sand (or escape from the sun under an umbrella with a good book). There are also plenty of lawn chairs on the “beach” section and a concession stand for snacks.

The 30-by-50-foot pool is 3½ feet deep, so it is perfect for small children. Although all ages are welcome to swim, a guardian must accompany children shorter than 4 feet, 2 inches in the pool. Swimmers are welcome for 45-minute sessions only, and wristbands for time slots are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. The pool is open daily, 10am-6pm, from June 29 through Labor Day weekend. This is currently the last summer it will be open, though some are urging the park to make the pool a permanent fixture.
 

Pier 3 Greenway Terrace

Pier 3 is a small, quiet, and laid-back area to relax. There are granite rocks and boulders piled high to sit on and admire the amazing view, accompanied by cute and colorful tables and chairs set up around the Brooklyn Bridge Book Cart. If you’re looking for an escape during your down time, pick out a book to read here, to yourself or your kids.
    

brooklyn bridge park pier 3 greenway terrace
Etiene Frossard

Take advantage of the Brooklyn Bridge Book Cart at Pier 3 Greenway Terrace.

   
There are also designated bicycle paths surrounding the park and its piers if you’re interested in a beautiful ride by the water—and an easy way to get a workout in. Of course, you can bring your own bike, but there are also five Citi Bike stations adjacent to Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Good news for parents: In order to keep this area peaceful, there are sound-attenuating hills to minimize the traffic noise in the park.
 

Pier 4 Beach

Although this is a nice area, don’t get your hopes up too high. It is a beach in the sense that there are sand, stones, and water, but it is small. Sitting by the river with sand between your toes is definitely a possibility—there just isn’t much room for kids to run and play. Ultimately, come for the scenery and the serenity at the least!
 

Pier 5

There are plenty of things to do with the whole family at Pier 5. The wide pathway around the pier is perfect for walking, running, or sitting on a bench and enjoying the view with a beautiful breeze (the same goes for Pier 2).

The pier itself is made up of three soccer fields, with nets surrounding the perimeter and plenty of kids running around kicking balls. Also spotted were some toddlers playing with water guns on the turf. Plus, there are two small connecting playgrounds.
   

brooklyn bridge park pier 5 soccer field
Julienne Schaer

Children work on drills during a practice at one of three soccer fields on Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 5.

   
There is a fishing area at the far end of the pier, accompanied by bait prep stations with sinks, for all of your fishing fantasies. This is a perfect area for a father-son trip! Or, you can sit back and peak through the nets to see your child’s soccer game.

After you have been worn out for the day, head over to the picnic peninsulas. Here, there are charcoal grills—a very unique aspect to the park—and a perfect spot for a family barbecue. Additionally, Pier 5 is also home to Ample Hills Creamery, serving 10 flavors of its famous ice cream.
 

Pier 6

If you thought the other piers sounded great, you’re in for a treat with Pier 6. This is heaven for small children, for there are five separate playgrounds. Before we get to the fun part (the playgrounds), there are several other features to the pier that make it unique. First, there is Fornino, a café at which you can enjoy some wood-fired pizza.

Walking toward the water, there is a lot of greenery and flowers surrounding the paths, giving off the impression that you’re not in the most populated city in the country. At the far end, there is a field where I spectated a family throwing around a baseball and a couple picnicking, as the view is awesome and the rotating Understanding sign can be seen.
    

brooklyn bridge park pier 6 flowers
Julienne Schaer

The greenery on Pier 6 provides an escape from busy streets of the city.


There are three regulation-sized volleyball courts at Pier 6 complete with nets, sand, and colorful beach chairs for spectators. Play a game with the family or join a tournament!

Pier 6 is home to five playgrounds: Sandbox Village, Water Lab, Slide Mountain, Marsh Garden, and Swing Valley. Each playground is hidden from one another, giving a lot of privacy, which I believe is one of the most unique parts of this pier. Just follow the trees and paths until you find your destination.

Sandbox Village is truly what it says it is—a huge sandbox, maybe the largest in the city. On top of that, there are wooden fixtures to sit on, a playhouse to climb into, as well as rocks, logs, a slide, and more.

The Water Lab is advertised as the park’s most popular playground, and for good reason. This is an awesome place to cool off on those days when it’s just too hot. There are jets and geysers squirting water into the air and kids running through having a jolly time. There are rocks and boulders to climb over, but definitely be careful, for it looks a little bit dangerous and slippery. Keep in mind that the Water Lab is only open when outside temperature is 80 degrees and higher, and closed during inclement weather.
    

brooklyn bridge park water lab

Your kids can cool off at the Water Lab, one of five playgrounds on Pier 6. 

   
Slide Mountain brings a lot of park features into one—the main feature is the two-story high slides that will give your kids a thrill. There are also jungle gyms and climbing fixtures as well as a sand box.

Marsh Garden is a woody area designed with the purpose of children getting in touch with nature, surrounded by trees and small rocky pathway.

Lastly, Swing Valley has multiple swinging areas divided by greens. There are hills and trees dividing these 10 swing sets, one for every age—baby swings, average swings, and even Tarzan ropes. And, if kids have a fall, parents should feel comfortable knowing the ground is soft, blue, and bouncy. The privacy of each swing set is definitely a plus as well.
 

More Family Activities

If you aren’t too tired after visiting the six piers, there are many other spots in and around the park to visit:

  • Empire Fulton Ferry: Empire Fulton Ferry Lawn, Jane’s Carousel, Picnic Grove, St. Ann’s Warehouse, Triangle Garden
     
  • Main Street: Pebble Beach, Main Street Playground, Main Street Dog Run, 99 Plymouth, Environmental Education Center, DUMBO Boulders
     
  • Squibb Park & Bridge 

 

janes carousel in brooklyn
Julienne Schaer
Jane's Carousel, originally built in 1922, is housed in a glass pavilion, making it perfect for any weather.
   

Details

Location: 334 Furman St., Brooklyn Heights

Hours: All areas open daily. Pier 2: 6am-11pm; Pier 5: 6am-11pm; Pier 6 Volleyball Courts: 6am-11pm; Playgrounds are open dawn to dusk, the remainder of the park is open 6am-1am

Restrooms: Located at Pier 1, Pier 2, and Pier 6, as well as at Squibb Park and Main Street

For more information: 718-802-0603 or brooklynbridgepark.org


Main image by Etienne Frossard 


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