Sprinklers, dump buckets, and loads of fun
As the temps are creeping up, an NYC park with a sprinkler where the kids can cool down is a lifesaver. New York is home to playgrounds and splash pads of all kinds, and you can find these refreshing spots of all shapes, sizes, themes, and intensity in every borough. We’ve rounded up our favorite playgrounds with water features in NYC, including parks for tiny tots, the best Central Park sprinklers, places to spend almost the whole day, and more! For more ways to keep cool, check out our favorite shady playgrounds, our picks of kid-friendly movie theaters and the best NYC museum shows for kids right now.
Pier 51 in Hudson River Park
Ahoy, mateys! A neighborhood favorite with river views, Hudson River Park’s Pier 51 Playground is great for water lovers. At the heart of the playground is a wooden pirate ship. A spiral ramp leads to the lookout, then kids slide down into a water play area outfitted with huge water gushers and buckets. Kids can also “search for lost treasure” in the sand pit.
A yellow, tree-like structure spritzes water for those kiddies who can’t get enough of H20. Brass animals, such as turtles and crabs, adorn the playground, and the sand play area and fences explain Manhattan’s ecological history. Little tots like wading in the moving stream and playing in the small spray sprinklers. Don’t forget your towels and sunscreen!
Restrooms: Comfort stations are located on-site along the walking path.
Horatio St. at the Hudson River
Chelsea Waterside Play Area in Chelsea Park
The Chelsea Waterside Play Area in Hudson River Park has always been a popular spot for locals and otherwise, and a $34 million overhaul from architect Michael Van-Valkenburgh (his firm is behind the design of Brooklyn Bridge Park as well) brought playground equipment from Danish firm MONSTRUM to the northeast for the first time. Gentle sprinklers are among play structures that include a giant, one-of-a-kind, multicolor Robina wood pipefish (a species found in the Hudson), a 64-foot wooden slide, plus a large sandpit, and limestone cattle head sculptures salvaged from an old building in the meatpacking district.
Restrooms: You can access restrooms in Chelsea Park at West 23rd Street.
23rd St. and Eleventh Ave.
The Ancient Playground in Central Park
Located near the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this Central Park playground has climbing pyramids and other play features inspired by the museum’s collection of Egyptian Art. The Ancient Playground has two user-activated water features. Big kids can enjoy the main climbing structure where water runs down an obelisk and cascades like a mini-waterfall into an open area with water jets; a more tame area for younger children features spray nozzles embedded in the walls.
Restrooms: This playground has accessible restrooms.
85th St. and Fifth Ave. in Central Park
Upper East Side
Madison Square Park Playground
This playground, officially known as the Police Officer Moira Ann Smith Playground, is known as a smaller space with big fun. The playground features a jungle gym and appropriate play equipment for both tots and older kids. The highlight during the summer is when the 15-foot tall waterwheel and sprinklers are activated. Bonus: a LEGO store/experience is located a stone’s throw away on 5th Avenue at 23rd Street. Make it a day out: There are Wifi hotspots throughout the park, and Eataly is right across the street on Fifth Ave.
Restrooms: Not in the park, but there are public restrooms on Madison Avenue between 23rd Street and 24th Street.
Madison Ave. between 25th and 26th Streets
The Water Lab at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park
Other splash pads pale in comparison to this incredible water play space. Set within natural rock structures, kids can run through water jets, frolic in sprinklers, or use pumps to create their own water fountains. To complete the beach feel, there’s a huge sand pit and swings nearby.
The Water Lab opens to the public once temperatures reach a steady 80+ degrees, and closes down in inclement weather. Check ahead! And if you’re concerned about getting your belongings wet, there are lockers available for free and for very cheap (25 cents!) at Pier 2 and 5.
Restrooms: There are restrooms at Pier 6.
Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park Greenway
Travers Park Playground in Jackson Heights
Travers Park got a facelift back in 2010. Founded in 1948, it was named after community leader Thomas J. Travers. Kids love being in a life-size garden oasis with leaf-and-vine-shaped spray showers. Nearby there is also an area for handball, tennis and roller hockey for the big ones.
Restrooms: Yes, there are restrooms in the playground.
34 Ave. bet. 77 St. and 78 Streets
LeFrak Center at Lakeside in Prospect Park
In the winter, the Prospect Park LeFrak Center at Lakeside is an ice skating rink, but it transforms into a splash pad come summer. The area has dozens of water jets shooting out periodically, and a playtime favorite for the regulars is bringing buckets and cups to fill and dump. The Splash Pad is open daily from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. If you’re hungry, grab a bite at the Bluestone Cafe on site. If you’re there on a Sunday, check out Smorgasburg nearby at the park’s Breeze Hill. Want to do something while drying off? Rent a bicycle or a boat for a spin on land or the lake.
Restrooms: There are restrooms inside the LeFrak Center.
171 East Dr. in the Southeastern side of Prospect Park
Prospect Lefferts Gardens
J.J. Byrne Playground in Park Slope
After a major makeover in 2012, this Park Slope gem is now loaded with activities for kids of all ages and tons of room to roam. (It’s the site of the Battle of Brooklyn on August 27, 1776, under the leadership of General Washington.) The littlest kiddos will love the colorful farm animal cutouts, interactive panels and scaled-down slides. Older kids can test their balance and climbing skills on a giant, caterpillar-shaped structure.
On warm days, kids flock to the sprinkler area, which is complete with water cannons. If all of those features leave your kids wanting more, ongoing public garden projects can be found on the west end of the park near the Old Stone House, and large athletic fields are beyond that for kicking or throwing a ball around.
Restrooms: Restrooms are found in the Old Stone House.
5th Ave. between Third and Fourth Streets
Grand Playground in the Bronx
Kids can pretend to be tiny in this insect- and garden-themed playground, which features structures that look like tall grass, large ladybugs, and giant flowers. Water features include colorful rings that spray at kiddos as they run through, as well as sprinklers in a large splash pad that provides lots of space to frolick in the water. Plus, you’ll also find all the staples of a playground, like climbing structures and ropes, slides, and more—all depicted in cheery, bright colors.
Restrooms: Restrooms are available in the playground.
2146 Grand Ave.
Roberto Clemente State Park
Not only does this Bronx park feature an Olympic-size pool, but you’ll also find a sprayground with more than 20 spray features in a rainbow of colors and multiple shapes. The 25-acre waterfront park runs along the Harlem River and charges a nominal fee ($2 for adults, $1 for kids) to use the pool complex.
301 West Tremont Ave.