Best Indoor Play Spaces with Water Play for Toddlers in NYC
At these indoor play spaces, few preschoolers can resist the lure of the water table where they can dunk their toys and hands in, fill containers just to spill them out again, and splash around. After all, in a tiny NYC apartment, not many of us have space for such messy playthings, so we rounded up a handful of NYC indoor play spaces that offer water-based sensory stations. No bathing suits or parental cleanup required.
Best of all, these soggy attractions are open year-round, even in summer just in case you can't face another sweltering day on the playground. So, for those who beg to play in water long after the lifeguards go home, there are options beyond the bathtub.
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The Bronx Children's Museum's water table is an all-ages pleaser.
1. Bronx Children's Museum – South Bronx
The Waterways section at the Bronx Children's Museum is at the top of our list of best indoor play spaces that feature water play because its 35-foot-long water table welcomes children to play with boats, bridges, and beaver dams in a landscape that mimics the real-life waterways of the borough. Protective outerwear is available to help keep kids dry (for the most part). This brand-new children's museum has so many fun exhibits to offer, but The Waterways is an all-ages hit!
2. Twinkle Playspace – Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Catering solely to the under 6 set, this custom-designed, 4,500-square-foot, indoor romping spot is more like a children's museum than a traditional play space. In addition to unique attractions like a mock salon, grocery store, and graffiti-inspired dance studio, Twinkle has a water table featuring a plastic-enclosed whirlpool. Toddlers are mesmerized as they toss balls into the clear cylinder and watch them spin into the abyss. Afterward, head to the fire truck, where tots can fight fake flames with hoses that squirt real water.
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Kids can make a splash at the Totally Tots installation in the Brooklyn Children's Museum.
3. Brooklyn Children's Museum – Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Located in one of the best little-kid destinations in the entire borough, BCM's Totally Tots sensory playroom for kids under age 6 offers nine hands-on stations to explore. A highlight is its giant water table with plenty of room to splash, scoop, and toss in floating toys, plus aim water canons at the wall. Waterproof smocks are provided, but pack a change of clothes just in case.
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The Liberty Science Center's Our Hudson Home exhibit offers an up close look at the Hudson River and its residents.
4. Liberty Science Center – Jersey City, New Jersey
Yes, this STEM hot spot is technically outside of NYC, but it's just a quick train or ferry ride across the Hudson and well worth the trip because hands-on activities abound. For water play, head to the Our Hudson Home exhibit where kids can explore the effects of dredging the river, operate mini cargo cranes, and meet some of the creatures that live in the river. Afterward, head outside to dry off and explore in the sand at the Dino Dig Adventure.
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The Dynamic H20 exhibit at the Children's Museum of Manhattan may have a small footprint, but offers big time fun! Photo by Jody Mercier
Seasonal Outdoor Water Tables in NYC
These last two water play destinations are actually outdoors and seasonal. They're located at museums and offer a nice alternative to romping in one of these sprinkler parks.
5. Children's Museum of Manhattan – Upper West Side
CMOM's outdoor play area hosts the fabulous and ever-popular Dynamic H20 exhibit. The exhibit showcases a 22-foot-long interactive water table. True to its mission of providing educational fun, the walls surrounding the display colorfully detail the journey water takes from the Catskills to city faucets. Expect lots of good, clean fun, and also educational components in the outdoor classroom and at individual activity stations, where kids can try on a different water-themed career for inspiration.
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The Sea of Boats at the Staten Island Children's Museum lets kids go fishing to oystering for fun.
6. Staten Island Children's Museum – Richmond Terrace, Staten Island
This nautical-themed outdoor play area is devoted to seafaring. From May to October, visitors can enjoy some soggy fun by attempting to net a magnetic fish or trying mock oystering. Call ahead to ensure this seasonal water play spot is open.
Unless noted, photos are courtesy of their respective venues
Places featured in this article:
Brooklyn Children's Museum
Liberty Science Center
Children's Museum of Manhattan
Staten Island Children's Museum
Bronx Children's Museum