When you’re a kid, the world’s a playground! But for adults who are also kids at heart, gone are the days of the simple swing sets. Playgrounds today set a fairly high bar (at times literally) in entertaining children and adults as well. From long, high slides, to swing jungles, to hideaway play spaces, some playgrounds offer so much fun, they become day trip destinations in their own right. Here are five notable playgrounds in the Northeast.
Playground at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn New York
The Brooklyn Bridge Park’s playgrounds opened in 2010. The multiple play spaces with many options are teeming with families. They come from all over to enjoy the fun and the view of Manhattan’s skyline just across the river. Swings, ropes, water functions, sandboxes and more were, “designed in consultation with experts from North Caroline State University’s Natural Learning Initiative and MVAA Inc.,” according to the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy.
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- Sliding down the two-story “magic mountain” slides (often accompanied by either sand or water to keep things cool or get things moving even faster)
- Singing on the Tarzan swings in Swing Valley
- Searching for friends in the Marsh Garden
- Enjoying the water channel when the weather is warm
- Playing in what’s now known as possibly the largest sandbox in New York City.
And those are just the playground features at Pier 6. You’ll also find other playgrounds to explore as you continue along the 1.3 miles of revitalized waterfront.
The Conservancy says this playground has, “One-of-a-kind features that stretch the body and the imagination.” And they are right. Your child can enjoy many hours of fun many days in a row. I know, because I’ve spent full days there with my child and her friends. Don’t forget the sunblock.
Imagination Playground, New York
Across the river in Manhattan is the Imagination Playground at Burling Slip (Front Street, John Street and South Street). Designed by well-known architect David Rockwell, this play space is geared towards children 10 and younger.
It’s described as a “transformable space that prompts children to manipulate their environment and create a playspace of their own with sand, water and lose parts.” Think giant foam building blocks, crates, mats, wagons and other creative possibilities available depending on the season. If you bring your children here, they will have a chance to engage in playtime that requires cooperation from children they may not know. But the kids generally seem to learn to make it work quite quickly. (Note, in winter months, the playground is open slightly shorter hours–daily from 9am to 5pm.)
Smith Kid’s Playspace, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Located in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park, the Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse have been a go-to destination for families for more than a century. A 16,000 square foot playhouse—yes that’s right, 16,000 square feet!—was built specifically for children to be able to use yearlong.
Different rooms have different themes and there are activities to take part in on a constant basis. Outside of the playhouse is a large playground area and a very special feature that is one-of-a-kind: a giant wooden slide.
The Giant Wooden Slide was actually built in 1905 and restored in 2005. Sliders sit in potato sacks as they bound down the smooth wooden slide flooring.
At 39 feet long and 13 feet wide, it also makes for a great place to challenge friends to a race. Taking the plunge made me feel like a kid again.
Robbins Farm Park, Arlington, Massachusetts
This park, also known as Skyline Park due to its amazing views of the Boston skyline, has plenty of play options for all ages.
The playground is massive, with plenty of open land to run around, play and fly kites when the wind is fine. (We didn’t bring a kite with us, but still enjoyed watching others fly theirs.) There are swings, jungle gyms, see-saws and for the younger kids, there are wooden structures in shapes such as a tractor and barn.
The highlight for many here (in addition to the view) is a pair of extremely long slides. Alongside each slide is a staircase, allowing children an easy route to climb back up to the top. As the slides are right next to each other, they can also be fun to “race slide” against each other. When we first tried these slides, my daughter was younger and I was a bit concerned about their height, but they don’t run extremely fast unless you work to push yourself at the onset. Older kids can still enjoy ending up in a heap at the bottom.
Esplanade Playspace in Boston, Massachusetts
This popular spot is found on the banks of the Charles River and is geared to children between the ages of approximately 5 and 12. From to a large disc swing, to a kid-powered (they push each other) merry-go-round, to a zip line that carries children to-and-from the discs the physical challenges are plenty. Perhaps the most sought after spot is the jungle gym that looks like a huge spider web. Kids will discover their ability to climb up and slide down a large blue side attached to it. Another bonus here—a good amount of shade.
Where is your favorite playground and what do you (and your kids) love about it?