Battle the Summer Heat at Brooklyn’s Best Parks

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As summer heats up, staking out a little piece of green in the concrete jungle is a must. Sure, afternoons in the park are no longer spent poring over every section of the weekend paper and napping, but add a sprinkler or ice cream stand, and you can still have a chill day out. With innovative parks, play spaces and creative park food vendors, Brooklyn offers several spots that keep picnics interesting.

photo courtesy of Prospect Park’s Facebook page

Prospect Park Picnic House

With 585 mostly green acres to discover in the Fredrick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux-designed Prospect Park, it’s hard to choose favorites. However, the lawn surrounding the Picnic House, with access to picnic tables, grills, a small café (open May through August), towering shady trees, and decent bathrooms makes for a reliable meet-up spot for an afternoon spent lounging in the grass. Enter near 3rd Street and stop by the Third Street Playground tucked in a wooded dale with two jungle gyms, sprinklers, swings and a sandbox.

East River State Park

The once desolate Williamsburg waterfront is getting greener thanks in part to the revamped East River State Park. Hop a ferry to the East River Ferry stop on weekends and lounge on the lawn for a picnic with a Manhattan view. On Saturdays from 11:00 am – 6:00 pm, grab provisions from one of nearly 100 unique vendors selling everything from fresh shucked oysters to grilled maple bacon sticks at the Brooklyn Flea’s outdoor food market Smorgasburg.

photo courtesy of Fort Greene Park’s Facebook page

Fort Greene Park

Brooklyn’s first park, Fort Greene Park, has important history dating back to the Revolutionary War. Today, it’s a sloping green space that still plays a central role in the neighborhood. Tennis courts, basketball courts and playgrounds offer several options for kids to let loose. Stop by the farmers’ market that frames the parks on Saturday for fresh picnic fare.

Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 6

The 1.6 acre trio of innovative playgrounds at Pier 6 makes for the ultimate kiddy adventure. There’s the Sandbox Village with log cabin-style hideouts and a charming wooden train to spur the imaginations of kids ages 2-5. Daring older kids will be challenged at the slide mountain playground with its sloping drop slide and geodesic climbing structures. And children of all ages will squeal and splash with delight as they wander the levels of fountains and sprinklers of the Water Lab, open all summer. Benches abound for a picnic, and there is also a seasonal outdoor café where you can grab a Bark hot dog or burger (and beer and wine too) or an icy treat from Uncle Louie G’s.

J.J. Byrne Playground

photo courtesy of chrisdscott on Flickr

The latest buzz in Park Slope is the newly renovated J.J. Byrne Playground, adjacent to the historic Old Stone House. Kids can play with three different water features at this splashtastic playground. There are two swing sets and several jungle gyms for everyone from novice climbers to the next Spiderman. Plus, there’s plenty of bench seating for mom chats and stone café tables for games and snack time.

What are your family’s fave BK parks to picnic and play? Let us know in the comment section below!

— Laura House

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