Parks & Playgrounds

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35 Things to Do with Kids in Soho and Little Italy

Spend the day roaming around Soho and Little Italy with kids and you'll realize just how kid-friendly NYC can be. Of course there are tons of shops and restaurants, but if you look closer you can see that the area is teeming with tons of fun activities for the whole family: You just need to know where to look! Here are 35 of the best places for families to visit, shop, and eat in Soho and the adjacent neighborhoods of Little Italy and Hudson Square, including family-friendly restaurants, must-see museums, playgrounds, and neighborhood institutions. 

Destination Playground: Pier 25 Playground Is Action-Packed for Kids of All Ages

On a hot summer day, the cool river breeze is hard to beat. But one thing that takes the summer fun up a notch is an ultra cool destination playground right on the river, with killer downtown and river views, proximity to free kayaking, reasonably priced mini golf, and plenty of free family-friendly programming. Think this all sounds too good to be true? Then you'll want to get reacquainted with the Hudson River Park's Pier 25 Playground in Tribeca.

Ice Cream Shops Near Great Playgrounds in Brooklyn and Manhattan

We're well into playground season now, and New York City parents are steeling themselves to endure hearing the Mister Softee theme playing on a loop until September. While there's nothing wrong with grabbing a cone from your friendly neighborhood ice cream truck, I admit that I prefer play spots that have really fantastic ice cream vendors nearby. Cold and sweet, a few scoops of mint chocolate chip or strawberry (my flavors of choice) make sticking out the sticky New York City weather that much more manageable. And my kids don't mind eating it either.

Here are some of my favorite spots to grab a scoop, plus fun places to play before or after.

Visiting Sunken Meadow State Park: Picnics, Playgrounds, Beaches

A trip to Sunken Meadow State Park on the rocky, picturesque North Shore of Long Island can be whatever you want it to be.

There's a different feel to this beach than those on the South Shore. It's quieter, more relaxed, and less trafficked than Jones Beach or Robert Moses state parks. The Long Island Sound waters are calm and clear. Families with children of all ages line the shore with beach chairs and umbrellas. 

 Kids can enjoy watching the water rush over them as their feet dig into the sand. If excitement is what you're after, you'll find it at Sunken Meadow State Park, which boasts a little something for everyone.

Super Skate Parks for Long Island Kids

If your adventuresome little skater dude or gal likes to carve and ollie, turning your furniture and household items into a skating playground, then this post is for you.

Take them instead to one of these skate parks across Long Island, where roller skaters, bladers, skateboarders, trick bikers, and more can show off their stunts, fully padded and protected of course. Note: Most of these facilities are skate at your own risk and require parental waivers for skaters 16 and younger. Check requirements before heading out.  

And for more fun in the area, check out our list of great go-kart and slot-car destinations on Long Island, and be sure to check out our Long Island Events Calendar.

Destination Playground: Ancient Playground in Central Park

Originally built in 1936, the Ancient Playground on the Upper East Side may seem to have earned its moniker (according to our kids, anyway), but its name is really an homage to its proximity to the Egyptian galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, right across the street. The ancient-civilization-themed romping spot, packed with fun climbing structures and water features, is a popular playground for locals and tourists alike, cementing its place on our list of Central Park's top playgrounds.

Read on for more details on why this classic old gem of a playground, at 85th Street and Fifth Avenue, ranks among the city's best.

Nature Trails & Giant Playgrounds: Playing at Spring Creek Park in Tomball

Nestled into the side of a slow, winding road in the small town of Tomball northwest of Houston, you'll find Spring Creek Park, an expansive park that is bursting with things to do. It's also home to some of my fondest memories growing up, as I used to frequent it often with my family, and being able to bring my kids to this park is like stepping back in time. This isn't just any park, though; it's a place that begs for adventures, appeals to kids of all ages, and could just be your next camping trip - all without having to very far from the city. 

The sprawling 114-acre facility is home to a plethora of activities set amongst the trees (which is why it's already claimed a spot on our list of parks with LOTS of shade - a must for any Houston park in the summer!) making it the perfect spot to settle in for the day; just pack a picnic and get ready to explore!

NYC Playgrounds with Shade: Stay Cool With Shady Park Benches and Equipment

While kids can always cool off in NYC's many sprinklers, we parents are often stuck baking in the sun all day during the heat of the city's summer as we supervise outdoor play. It's a problem our readers know too well—each summer we get requests for recommendations of shady spots to play.

Although we know of a couple playgrounds that offer exceptional amounts of shade—Hippo Playground in Riverside Park and Discovery Playground in Fort Washington Park come to mind—we decided to ask our readers if they knew of any super-shady playgrounds in New York City. They came through with a number of great suggestions.

Please keep in mind that the name of the game here is comfort on a hot summer day; though we have visited plenty of destination playgrounds, with a few exceptions, these shady suggestions tend to be neighborhood standbys and small playgrounds that have plenty of shade, but perhaps not too many bells and whistles.

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