Let Us Spray: 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 many of these refreshing spots  — of all shapes, sizes, themes and intensity — in every borough. We’ve rounded up our favorite playgrounds with sprinklers in NYC, including parks for tiny tots, recently-renovated spots, places to spend almost the whole day, and more! Stay cool!

For an Ice Rink Turned Splash Pad: LeFrak Center at Lakeside

This popular splash pad for kids 12 and under has been closed for much of the the summer, but to the joy of both kids and parents, returns August 1. (In the winter, the Prospect Park LeFrak Center at Lakeside is an ice skating rink.) 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, also reopened. Want to do something while drying off? Rent a bicycle or or 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 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 play field. 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 a New & 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 (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.  Here, any toddler can get button-happy by pushing a button that controls the water sprinklers in the two sprinkler areas. Older kids love 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 a 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 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 feature.   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. The other is a semi-circular area for younger kids with spray nozzles in a wall.

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

Considered a hidden gem among the concrete jungle of high-rises, kids can slide their way into Teardrop Park in Battery Park City.  The main attraction is the park’s mega-slide, which turns into a wet slip and slide when the sprinklers go off.  Naturalistic rock beds surround the water area. Your little climber will have a great time exploring. Be sure to wear good grippy shoes.

Neighborhood: Battery Park

Where: Between Warren St. and Murray St.

Online: bpcparks.org

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 8 seasonal water features, including an elevated water-wheel. There is something for all ages. A favorite for the kids is a water play area that has 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.

Neighborhood: Tribeca

Where: North Moore St., Pier 25

Online: hudsonriverpark.org

For Splashing Among Seals: East River Park

The 57-acre East River Park Playground is home to an amphitheater, playgrounds, sports fields and courts. A favorite among the little ones is the bronze harbor seals to climb over. The unpredictable spouting water is also a fan favorite as kids love trying to stomp on the next water spout and try to predict where it’s going to be.

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 classical favorite for toddlers and older kids alike.   This playground celebrates the tradition of music at Prospect Park. 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 showers. There are also plenty of misting sprays. Play a little ditty on the interactive xylophones placed in playground.

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 ship wrecked with a huge boat to explore and fun play equipment to climb. The equipment is inspired by well-known Island mainstays like the Staten Island Ferry and the Lighthouse.  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

Madison Square Park 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. After everyone's cooled off, drop by the LEGO store/experience located a stone's throw away at 5th Avenue at 23rd Street.

Neighborhood: Flatiron

Where: Madison Avenue between 25th and 26th Streets

Online: madisonsquarepark.org

For Gentle Spray From Above: Heckscher Playground

On a scorching day, this large water play area with sprinklers is a great place for kids to run around. With a stream that crosses over a number of hills with tunnels and ladders, there are plenty of places to explore. This is the oldest and largest playground in Central Park at 1.8 acres. Parents of little ones especially like Hercksher Playground for its semi-enclosed area with a soft and pleasant spray.

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 runs 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 kind 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


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 and 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 area opened up only 5 years ago and it's already become a favorite for 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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