As part of our month-long focus on Chelsea, my daughter and I had the pleasure of exploring the major parks and playgrounds in the area. Although Chelsea's best known green space is undoubtedly The High Line, there are much more kid-friendly parks and playgrounds, each with its own flavor and all within walking distance of one another.
In addition to the standard climbing structures and swings, the outdoor play spots we visited had some awesome special attractions, including a charming carousel, a popular skatepark and some of the coolest water features we've ever seen. Here's where to let your kids run wild in Chelsea.
Chelsea Waterside Playground
23rd Street and Eleventh Avenue
We posted about this glorious playground a few years back. In the summer, the main attraction is the water, which seems to spew from all over the place. But even though the sprinklers weren't yet turned on when we visited, it was still our favorite playground in the neighborhood. The whimsical space is very inviting, filled with colorful equipment and shady spots to sit. There's a segregated toddler area with a small sandbox. Older kids will have a blast digging in the huge sandbox and playing on the unique climbing structures, which include spinning action and a mini rock wall. The only way I got my daughter to leave was by telling her there was a carousel to visit nearby.
22nd Street and the Hudson River
Located a few blocks away from Chelsea Waterside Park across the West Side Highway, Pier 62 boasts a carousel, a skatepark and amazing views. My four-year-old daughter and I peeked through the gates of the 15,000-square-foot Pier 62 Skatepark and watched the skateboarders do tricks and, occasionally, wipe out. Like all NYC skateparks, Pier 62 requires that skaters wear helmets and other safety gear, but since it's unsupervised, not all kids (or adults) follow the rules. My daughter flew like a bird down the path to the Pier 62 Carousel, which features 33 hand-carved wooden animals like seahorses, a black bear cub, a crawfish and a harbor seal. It's $2 per ride and there are tables and chairs so you can relax as your kids go round and round. Make sure they look up: The ceiling has hundreds of twinkling LED lights. There are lush lawns nearby with gorgeous views of the Hudson River and a public restroom at Pier 61 in Chelsea Piers.
Clement Clarke Moore Park
22nd Street and Tenth Avenue
Locals call this spot Seal Park in honor of its two seal sprinklers. Although it may look like an ordinary playground with the standard toddler area, big kid climbing structure and a sectioned off swing set, Seal Park is a busy community hub. During warm months, its picnic tables overflow with birthday parties (sometimes many at once), and the festivities often spill over into the large entry space, which features benches under shady trees. Seal Park is also where costumed kids gather to go trick-or-treating at the nearby townhouses on Halloween.
27th to 28th Streets between Ninth and Tenth Avenues
Yes there are ball courts, sprinklers, climbing structures and swings, but Chelsea Park is also home to a lot of adults hanging out without kids. On our visit, we saw park staff walking around to ensure the spot remained safe but it's definitely not as nice as the other playgrounds in the neighborhood. In this part of Chelsea, you're better off playing at the Penn South Playground on 26th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, which is part of the Penn South housing development but open to the public. Again, it's a standard spot but cleaner and safer, and known to locals as Sandbox Playground.
The High Line
Tenth Avenue between Gansevoort and 30th Streets
There's a reason this elevated park, which runs from the Meatpacking District to Midtown West, is thought of as a hipster haven. With no play equipment, little space to run around and a ton of rules, it's not very kid-friendly. That said, there are things for families to enjoy, like amazing views, lovely plantings and flowers, and cool public art installations like 2011's Rainbow City, which was basically a bunch of bouncy houses. The biggest attraction for families is the frequent kids' programming, like Saturday arty hours, the hands-on nature series Wild Wednesdays and Lawn Time for Little Ones on Thursdays. This summer, the Children's Museum of the Arts is even hosting monthly art workshops. All of these programs are FREE so be sure to check the calendar to see what's coming up. The High Line has been extended up to 30th Street since we last wrote about it, and eventually it will go up to 34th Street. Visit the website for a map of all the entrances.
See all of our posts about Chelsea.