The Battery, the park at the southern most tip of Manhattan Island, is to lower Manhattan what Central Park is to upper Manhattan. The welcoming, green space has been enlarged twice during its lifetime with landfill and is now the largest open space in downtown Manhattan—25 acres of waterfront property. The Battery is a beautifully landscaped garden full of memorial statues and public art, great views and not just of the Statue of Liberty, either. The promenade is a perfect place to stroll, ride bikes, scooter or just sit in the sunshine. Most people think of it as the place to get the boats for the Statue of Liberty, but I like to think of it as the “front lawn” for the whole city and a perfect outing for the whole family.
Find out how to get the most out of a day out with kids in the Battery:
1. Stroll, bike, scooter or simply take a breather on the Waterfront Promenade, which offers amazing views of New York Harbor and beyond, including the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
2. Walk through the enormous doors (and the huge lines for Statue of Liberty tickets) into Castle Clinton. Walk around the outside and explain to your kids that originally, this fort stood in the Harbor surrounded by water but has since been filled in. Today it is part of the National Park Service and the place to buy tickets to the Statue of Liberty boat tours but it is a destination unto itself. Inside there is a tiny museum with three windows showing the fort and the Battery throughout the ages. My son and I like to look for our street and see when it appeared in history. It is FREE to walk in and check it out, so why not?
3. Hit the water, right out side is the Staten Island Ferry, a fun and FREE activity. The trip takes 30 minutes each way and offers magnificent views of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. You have to disembark when you arrive at the St. George Terminal but there is plenty to do while you wait for the boat back. Check out the great view from the outdoor patio, watch the fish swimming in the two giant freshwater aquariums in the waiting room or eat at one of the many places in the terminal. Or why not stick around and explore the isle a bit?
4. Go on a scavenger hunt with the kids. Look for shapes, people or animals among the memorials and statues that grace the park, including Fritz Koenig’s Sphere in its temporary home.
5. Make some tunes! I am not sure what these two instruments are called or if they are actually for some other purpose, but my son loves them. At the southern edge of the Bosque almost on the promenade (on a vertical line with the food kiosks) there are nine brass plates in the ground with chimes underneath. To play them walk, jump or run across the springy squares. In the other direction from the kiosk, east of Castle Clinton, in a small sitting area, there are three wooden planks in the ground that seem to work like an accordion. As you step or jump on them, they blow out air which makes some music. I have hunted around for signs to learn what these things are, they look like art, but there has never been any sign. Look or listen for them, they are kind of hard to find, but when you do your kids will love them.
6. Bring a bathing suit and get wet playing in the Spiral Fountain. I don’t normally let my child play in public fountains, but this one is actually made for play and is more like a sprinkler than a fountain. It has no basin collecting water so there is no murky muck to wade through and the tall jets of water turn on and off streaming and spiraling around the kids. Lots of fun!
7. Volunteer at the Battery Urban Farm. Aspiring farmers of all ages are welcome to get their hands dirty the third Saturday of every month April to November helping to plant or harvest more than 100 varieties of organically-grown veggies, fruits, flowers, grains and plants. Read our post about the Battery Urban Farm to find out about all of its amazing educational programs.
8. Go for a ride on the SeaGlass Carousel, which opened to great fanfare in summer 2015.
Find out about other great things to do with kids in the Financial District.