Stay Cool! NYC Parks with Sprinklers

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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! Stay cool!

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 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. 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

Online: prospectpark.org

To Cool Down with Jets or Mist: Domino Park

One of the newest outdoor spaces to cool down in New York is Domino Park. The five-acre park was built on the former site of the Domino Sugar Factory in North Williamsburg. (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. 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. 

Online: dominopark.com

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. 

Neighborhood: Chelsea

Where: 23rd St. and Eleventh Ave.

Online: hudsonriverpark.org

photo: NYC Parks/Malcolm Pickney

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

Online: nycgovparks.org

photo: Central Park Conservancy/Sara Cedar Miller

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

Online: centralparknyc.org

photo: Battery Park Alliance

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.

Online: bpca.ny.gov

photo: NYC Parks/Daniel Avila

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

Online: nycgovparks.org

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! 

Neighborhood: Tribeca

Where: North Moore St., Pier 25

Online: hudsonriverpark.org

photo: Pablo Casta Tirdo via Creative Commons

For Splashing Among Seals: East River Park

The 57-acre East River Park is home to an amphitheater, playgrounds, sports fields and courts. This is often referred to as "Seal Park" thanks to the bronze harbor seals that are just the right size for climbing on and over. Also fun: water jets that spout at random, creating a fun guessing game.

Neighborhood: Lower East Side

Where: Montgomery St. to East 12th St., FDR Drive

Online: nycgovparks.org

photo: Prospect Park Alliance/Paul Martinka

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

Online: prospectpark.org

 

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

Online: nycgovparks.org

photo: Madison Square Park Conservancy

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.

Neighborhood: Flatiron

Where: Madison Avenue between 25th and 26th Streets

Online: madisonsquarepark.org

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.

Online: centralparknyc.org

For a Recently-renovated Spot: Pier 51

This play area, which received an upgrade a few years ago offers water fun for all ages including giant, kid-activated water gushers and buckets. The little ones can bring their favorite sand toys into the tot-friendly sand area. This area features a replica of the Minetta Brook, which "flows" during the summer.

Neighborhood: Greenwich Village

Where: Horatio St. and West 12th St., Pier 51, Greenwich Village

Online: hudsonriverpark.org

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.

Online: nycgovparks.org

photo: NYC Parks Department/Malcolm Pinckney

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. A 2012 $30 million renovation of this spot and the adjoining dry playground produced 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

Online: nycgovparks.org

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

Online:parks.ny.gov

photo: New York state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation 

To Get Sprayed Every Which Way: Roberto Clemente State Park

Not only does this Bronx park feature an Olympic-size pool (which opens at the end of June), 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

Online: parks.ny.gov

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

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