It’s hot out there, and an NYC park with a sprinkler where the kids can cool down is a lifesaver right about now. 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 pics for kid-friendly movie theaters and the best NYC museum shows for kids right now.
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For an Ice Rink Turned Splash Pad: LeFrak Center at Lakeside
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 10 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.
Neighborhood: Prospect Lefferts Gardens
Where: Southeastern side of Prospect Park near the Parkside/Ocean Ave. entrance and the Lincoln Rd./Ocean Ave. entrance
To Cool Down with Jets or Mist: Domino Park
This five-acre park in North Williamsburg was built on the former site of the Domino Sugar Factory, and the addition of the park marks the first time the waterfront has been accessible to the public in 160 years! With gorgeous views of the East River, Domino Park is home to a one-of-a-kind playground designed by Mark Reigelman that's inspired by the sugar refining process, as well as an elevated walkway, beach volleyball, a bocce court and playfield. Plus: Mexican food courtesy the Union Square Hospitality Group's Tacocina and pizza from the ever-popular Roberta's. The park has two water features offering very different experiences from one another. The first is located in front of stadium-style seating at the heart of the park, and consists of 88 independently programmed water jets, that are illuminated at night. The second is more atmospheric but very cool: "Fog Bridge" produces a fine mist that envelopes visitors from an elevated perch, where you can also take in the factory's old massive syrup tanks.
Neighborhood: North Williamsburg
Where: 15 River St. Entrances along Kent Ave. at South 5th, South 3rd, and Grand Streets.
For an Inspired Splashscape: Chelsea Water 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.
Where: 23rd St. and Eleventh Ave.
For Water On Command (and Water Cannons): J.J. Byrne Playground
Park Slopers have a unique and fun splash park at J.J. Byrne Park, suitable for kids of all ages. Young kids will love the water feature with a button that controls the flow of water in the two sprinkler areas. Older kids enjoy the aim-and-shoot water canons and the runnel, which is a manual water pump that is used to fill the mill stream. The area has a naturalistic feel with gray rocks that are fun for climbing. Designed by the NYC Parks Department landscape architect Patricia Clark, the park has various playground areas and synthetic Astroturf kids can go play on when drying off.
Neighborhood: Park Slope
Where: 5th Avenue and 3rd Street
To Cool Off Like an Egyptian: The Ancient Playground
Located nearby 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.
Neighborhood: Upper East Side
Where: 85th St. and Fifth Ave. in Central Park
For a Hidden Mega-slide: Teardrop Park
Teardrop Park is considered a hidden gem among the concrete jungle of high-rises of Battery
Park City, even when the water is off. The main attraction is the park’s mega-slide, which turns into a wet slip and slide when the water is flowing. Naturalistic rock beds surround the water area, and this place is known to be a spot where kids can play for hours. Be sure to wear good, grippy shoes.
Neighborhood: Battery Park City
Where: Between Warren St. and Murray St.
For Big Leaves in Queens: Travers Park
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 the leaf-and-vine shaped spray showers. Nearby there is also an area for handball, tennis and roller hockey for the big ones.
Neighborhood: Jackson Heights
Where: 34 Ave. bet. 77 St. and 78 Streets
For 8 Water Features & Mini-Golf: Pier 25
This 25,000 square feet of gated play space has eight seasonal water features, including an elevated water-wheel. There is something here for kids big and small. A favorite feature is a water play area equipped with water guns, sprayers and buckets to fill and dump. Spend the morning at the playground, grab a rest and then enjoy “tee time” at Manhattan’s only 18-hole mini-golf course. Then head to Grand Banks for a bite on a docked boat!
Where: North Moore St., Pier 25
For Music-inspired Spray: Harmony Playground
Located in Prospect Park, the Harmony Playground is a favorite of toddlers and older kids alike. It is located next to the Prospect Park band shell, home to the Celebrate Brooklyn! Performing Arts Festival. The water area of the Harmony Playground is a perfect place for your little Mozart to fill and dump his or her bucket with spray showers coming from the large harp water features. In addition to the interactive xylophones placed in the playground for making music of one's own, there are misting features for gentle refreshment.
Neighborhood: Park Slope
Where: 11 St. and Prospect Park West
To Make Like A Castaway: Seaside National Park
Never has anyone been so excited to be shipwrecked! This Staten Island playground features a huge boat to explore and fun play equipment to climb. Structures are inspired by well-known Island mainstays like the Staten Island Ferry and the Lighthouse, and once the kids are done climbing, they can cool off in the spray showers.
Neighborhood: Great Kills, Staten Island
Where: Nelson Avenue, Staten Island
For a Waterwheel Near a LEGO Store: Madison Square Park
Police Officer Moira Ann Smith Playground is located in the northeast corner of Madison Square Park, and it packs a lot into a small area. The playground features a jungle gym and appropriate play equipment for both tots and older kids. During the summer, a 15-foot tall waterwheel, water-spouting alphabet blocks and sprinklers are activated to keep everyone chill. After everyone's cooled off, drop by the LEGO store/experience located a stone's throw away at 5th Avenue at 23rd Street or grab a bite at Eataly across the street.
Where: Madison Avenue between 25th and 26th Streets
For Gentle Spray From Above: Heckscher Playground
One of the best playgrounds in NYC, Heckscher playground includes a large water play area with sprinklers. With a stream that crosses over a number of hills with tunnels and ladders, there are plenty of places to play and explore. Parents of little ones especially like Heckscher Playground for its semi-enclosed area with a soft and pleasant spray. Measuring 1.8 acres, this the oldest and largest playground in Central Park.
Neighborhood: Upper West Side
Where: Mid-Park from 61st to 63rd Streets.
For A Star Playground All Around: Pier 51
This place has it all: giant, kid-activated water gushers and buckets, a "fort" to climb, a tot-friendly sand area and padded surfaces, and a replica of the Minetta Brook, which "flows" during the summer. Plus: a shaded area for parents to sit, restrooms and really amazing river views. Five stars.
Neighborhood: Greenwich Village
Where: Horatio St. and West 12th St., Pier 51, Greenwich Village
For Surprise Sprays: Spiral Bosque Fountain in Battery Park
Designed by Weisz & Yoes Architecture, this $1.4 million fountain features 35 in-ground, interactive illuminated jets laid out in a spiral pattern. With views of the river, it really is water water everywhere — the kids are sure to get soaked, and cool off.
Neighborhood: Battery Park
Where: Battery Place, State St. and Whitehall St.
To Get Sprayed in the Rockaways: Beach 30th Street Playground
For a salt-free spray in Far Rockaway, head to the nautical-themed sprayground at Beach 30th Street. Here you'll find a playscape featuring spray guns, a big red boat, sprinkling shapes of all kinds and water tables.
Neighborhood: Far Rockaway
Where: Boardwalk between Beach 29th and 30th Streets
For Splashing with a Killer View: Gantry Plaza State Park
Part sprinkler, part sculpture, the water feature at Gantry Plaza State Park is not only cool-looking, it also helps conserve water, operating for 45-minutes at a time. The shiny metal rods are kid-activated, and users can also regulate the water pressure as well. Nearby hammocks and seats offer a place to rest and enjoy the spectacular view of midtown. Don't forget to take a stroll in the 12-acre riverside park and marvel at the Pepsi Cola sign or the large metal gantries — vestiges of the shipping industry — the structures that give the park its name.
Where: 4-09 47th Rd.
Neighborhood: Long Island City
To Get Sprayed Every Which Way: Roberto Clemente State Park
Not only does this Bronx park feature an Olympic-size pool, you'll also find a new 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.
Where: 301 West Tremont Ave.
Neighborhood: University Heights
For a Real Hot Spot: The Water Lab, Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6 Playground
This popular water park is a place where your little Tarzan or Jane can swing and slide his or her way into some wet fun. Slide down a great-big magical mountain, or enjoy the water wheel and river that runs through one side of the park. This place is popular with both parents and kids—head to the Waterlab in the earlier hours on a weekday to beat the crowd.
Neighborhood: Brooklyn Heights
Where: Furman St. and Atlantic Ave
—Kathy Young & Mimi O’Connor