The Best Playgrounds in and Around NYC
Everything parents should know before taking children to a playground in NYC.
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Wantagh Park truly has it all: a playground equipped with swings, slides, a maze, and a two-mile jogging course, family picnic area, and a sheltered picnic area (private permit needed). During those hot summer months, kids can cool off from all that running and climbing at the interactive pool for kids 5-12 and the slide pool.
10. Amagansett Youth Park
In addition to a super cool playground, Amagansett Youth Park features a clubhouse with an indoor play area for young children, along with toddler arts activities and youth chess. The park also has tennis and basketball courts, a track, a skateboarding rink, and a roller skating rink.
Pack a lunch and spend the day at Mamaroneck’s Harbor Island Park. The nautical theme (giant pirate ship, lighthouse and tug boat play structures, a gondola seesaw, and a swaying bridge) lends itself to hours of creative play for your young ones, and the basket swings and cable “spider web” provide a cool way for them to burn off energy. An added bonus to this playground is that it is located right near a beach and a sprinkler park with public bathrooms, which is ideal for hot summer days.
The Nature’s Discovery Playground at the Greenburgh Nature Center is worth the trip alone, even without a visit to the trails and exhibits. It offers three different play areas for kids of all ages and abilities: the Toddler Tree House for babies and toddlers, the Nature Adventure Climbing Structure for preschoolers, and the Forest Habitat Climbing Structure for older kids. Plus, you’ll find a variety of swings for different age groups and even a swinging bench for parents. A wooded forest surrounds the playground and there are large rocks for the kids to climb on and plenty of open space for them to run around. Pack a lunch because there are picnic tables on the ground of the center for all to use.
3. Sagamore Playground
This playground is a favorite among Westchester parents because it is completely enclosed, so there’s no danger of a child bolting out into the street. Additionally, it sits up high on a shady hill, making it ideal for hot days when the last thing you want to do is bake in the sun. There’s a toy-packed sandbox, swings for all ages, mini basketball hoops, a fleet of Cozy Coupe cars, several jungle gyms, and a climbing pyramid to keep your little ones busy for hours. All of this makes it an easy setting in which to spend a leisurely afternoon.
It’s no great surprise that Jack’s Friendship Garden, located next to the Huguenot Children’s Library, was listed in the New York Times as one of the great places to take your kids in Westchester. It is one of the few wheelchair-accessible playgrounds in Westchester County. The park also stands out because of cool features such as climbing structures for different ages, reclining seat swings (think sofa lounger on chains), a sandbox with a hand-controlled crane, a large boat-like apparatus that sways back and forth, and ramps that kids can run up and down. Benches are plentiful and the ice cream truck makes frequent stops at the park, so the only thing you really need when you go there is plenty of time to hang out.
5. Julieanne’s Playground
The layout of Julieanne’s Playground (dedicated to Julianne Borsella who lost her battle with cancer when she was 8 years old) makes it easy to keep kids of all ages entertained. It’s anchored by a large play structure that features a tunnel, a climbing net, and several different slides. There are two different swing areas, a toddler climbing area, a mini zip-line and a hand powered trolley car. A paved area for bike riding, hockey, or scooters, plus tennis courts makes this park a favorite of both my 10-year-old son and my 7-year-old daughter.
6. Flint Park
Flint Park is designed for fun. It features a large pirate ship play structure for the younger set, another play area with rope ladders and slides for bigger kids, large disc swings, a huge sandbox, and even a rock climbing wall. It’s surrounded by a variety of sports facilities, including tennis and paddle courts, baseball fields, soccer fields, and basketball courts. Bring your bikes and take a family ride around the bike path before you retire to the picnic area for lunch or snacks.
Garth Road Playground is fenced in, which makes it easier to keep track of more than one kid at a time (an impossibility sometimes when play areas are not enclosed). It features two separate climbing apparatuses, swings, slides, basketball courts, and a Little League field. When you are ready for some down time but don’t want to head home, the playground offers checker tables and picnic tables, and since it’s situated next to the Metro North Railroad tracks, kids can watch the trains zoom pass. This just never gets old for some little ones!
This Paramus park is the true gem of Bergen County. This park offers a huge playground with different structures that offer appropriate play by age. In one corner, kids can run through a little waterpark area where animal structures sprinkle water for all to enjoy. Within walking distance is Van Saun’s carousel, train rides, and of course the zoo!
2. Ruckman Park
Located in Closer, you’ll find a huge playground area with two structures, one for older children and one for younger. Kids will enjoy going down three big slides, climbing a few rock walls, tunnels, and monkey bars.
3. Finch Park
Make a point to visit this beautiful new playground in Ramsey. You’ll find several different play areas like a sand box, a play pirate ship, and a castle-like playground. Nearby are baseball fields and basketball courts as well. Be on the lookout for the ice cream truck!
4. Clark Field
This brand-new huge playground in Washington Township is completely shaded under large trees. Designed for all ages, there are separate structures for younger kids (cool pirate ship) and older kids (really tall slides). Kids will find lots of swings and plenty of room to run around. Baseball fields and a basketball court are nearby.
This playground by the duck pond is great for adults, kids, and even pets. It’s small enough to be able to sit on one of the many benches and watch your kids play. There’s a path around the pond that offers a nice trail for scooters, bikes, and strolls.
Saddle River County Park is a Saddle Brook gem. There’s a huge pond, a dog park, a picnic area with shaded tables, fishing, ball fields, and a great playground. You’ll find paths here for walking, scotting, and biking—all linking to neighboring towns.
This is one of the towns the bike paths in Saddle River County Park connect to. Here, you’ll find large parks for both dogs and kids, but the playground will keep the little ones happy for hours. The paths here allow for scooter rides and walks, and there’s room for family picnics as well.
You’ll find more than just a playground at this Ridgefield park. There’s a boating area, tennis courts, bike and running trails, a large open field, and a huge playground for the little ones. Grab your sunscreen, because there’s little shade at this fun plaza.
This 118-acre park that spans across Woodcliff Lake, Hillsdale, and Park Ridge offers an awesome playground, tennis courts, fishing and picnic areas, a popular dog park, and a scenic pond to stroll and scoot around.
A whopping 1,133 acres in size, there’s plenty to do at this coveted county park. You’ll want to head to the lake, above the west bank of the Hudson River. There, you’ll find a park with a huge swimming pool, a picnic area with grills, hiking trails, tennis and golf, and a ton more! Of course, there’s a playground here, too.
If you have a child with special needs or disabilities, there are numerous playgrounds in the New York metro area that are accessible and ADA-compliant, making them places children of all abilities can play together (as long as they are following COVID-19 safety precautions).
Of course, you may not want to take your children to playgrounds right now, and that’s understandable. Caroline Stockert, CPNP-PC, a pediatric nurse practitioner at Crystal Run Healthcare suggests considering the size of the playground before heading over to play.
Use good judgment and try to go to either a large playground where children can practice proper social distancing or choose a non-crowded playground, John B. Steever, M.D., who specializes in adolescent medicine at Mount Sinai, recommends, adding that your family stay home if you or your children feel unwell.
Telling your children to stay away from other children is hard, especially at a playground, but your children should not go to a playground without some form of a debriefing. Stocker advises parents tell their children to avoid sharing playground equipment, toys, or snacks with kids outside their families. It’s also a good idea to tell your children, in advance, that they may have to leave the playground if it becomes too crowded or if they cannot follow the rules. Kids may find this hard to grasp, but being honest with them about the possibilities will make it go down a little easier.
Everyone should wear masks, and it's important to remind kids to not touch their faces. Both Stocker and Dr. Steever urge parents to remember the importance of washing hands or using hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t available. They recommend children use hand sanitizer when arriving to the playground, while they are playing, between using different equipment, and after leaving the playground.
Dr. Steever urges parents to monitor their children at all times, since it’s easy for a child to wander off or get too close to someone else by accident. “I’d hope that parents would be understanding they are monitoring their own children to follow the rules,” Dr. Steever says.
One way parents can further help their kids remain socially distant is to talk to other parents there and make arrangements. “For example, one family may play on the slide while another family uses the swings,” Stocker says.
When it’s time to head home, families should leave the park quickly and wash their hands immediately when they get home.
Children are more likely to do something if you make it sound fun—like making a game of picking up their toys. Dr. Steever suggets taking the same approach when talking to and keeping your children engaged in staying safe. If you haven’t already, get masks with fun designs that your kids will want to wear.
Another fun idea from Dr. Steever incorporates superheroes. Suggest to your kids that they play on the playground as if they are a superhero, like Batwoman or Spider-Man, and they need to keep their mask on to hide their secret identity. And some heroes have a very powerful touch, so they have to avoid touching others to keep people safe.
Dr. Steever equates this to vegetables at dinner. If you give two vegetable options, rather than just offering them one and telling them to eat it, then they have a choice in the matter. Playing a game works in the same way. They are actively involved in the social distancing protocols and making a choice to play the game.
The CDC recommends children younger than 2 not wear face masks. Stocker says this is because children that young could suffocate while wearing a mask. She suggests children younger than 2 be put in a stroller and go in walks around the neighborhood to avoid crowds. If you choose to bring young kids to the playground, follow them carefully and help them wash their hands, Stocker says.
Dr. Steever adds that your young child should be fine if they are in an area where you can be socially distant. Maintaining social distance with kids this young is crucial. So that may mean waiting to bring them to the playground.
If you’re not comfortable heading to the playground just yet, there are still ways your children can be active. Dr. Steever suggests parents take their kids to parks and large fields where there is more space to move around. Also, walks around the neighborhood are appropriate.
Parents also have many options to keep their kids entertained in their own backyard. With a little time and effort, you can easily recreate some of your favorite classic summer activities right in your own backyard, like camping, the carnival, and water play. Your kids can burn off their extra energy with some fun, safe outdoor activities, such as rollerblading, going for a bike ride, or even playing a socially distant game of flashlight tag. Plus, you can deck out your yard with some of this season’s hottest toys and play equipment to make your backyard into your kids’ personal playground!