The Battery, the park at the southernmost tip of Manhattan Island, is to lower Manhattan what Central Park is to upper Manhattan. This welcoming green space has been enlarged twice during its lifetime with landfill, and is now the largest open space downtown—25 acres of waterfront property. The Battery (as it has been renamed—although many people still call it Battery Park) is a beautifully landscaped garden full of family activities, public art, and 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 city and a perfect outing for the whole family.
Read on for how to get the most out of a day out with kids in the Battery.
1. Enjoy the views from the promenade. 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.
Statue Cruises is a fun and cool way to explore. Photo courtesy of Statue Cruises
2. Explore Castle Clinton. Walk through the enormous doors (and the huge lines for Statue of Liberty tickets) into the Castle at the Battery. Kids will be fascinated to learn that where they're standing was originally surrounded by water, since the fort was first built in a part of New York Harbor that has since been filled in. Today, Castle Clinton is a national monument managed by the National Park Service and is a destination unto itself, as well as the place to buy tickets to the Statue of Liberty boat tours. Inside there is a tiny, free museum with three windows showing the fort and the Battery throughout the ages. My son and I like to look for our street to see when it appeared in history.
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The Staten island Ferry. Photo by Jody Mercier
3. Hit the water. Right outside the Battery is the Staten Island Ferry, a fun and FREE must-do activity for all New York kids. 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, eat at one of the many places in the terminal, or stick around and explore the isle.
4. Go on a scavenger hunt with the kids. The Battery is home to a collection of monuments and statues honoring figures and moments from New York City history. The Monument Walk is a fun place to look for shapes, people, and animals among the memorials and statues that grace the park—including a cannon exhumed from underneath Broadway in 1892.
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The Bosque Fountain. Photo courtesy of The Battery
5. Play in the sprinklers. Bring a bathing suit and get wet playing in the spiral Bosque Fountain. I don’t usually 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!
6. Make some tunes. At the southern edge of the Bosque, almost on the promenade (near the food kiosks) there are nine brass plates in the ground with chimes underneath. To play them, kids can walk, jump, or run across the springy squares. In the other direction from the kiosk, east of the Castle 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 music. Kids will have almost as much fun hunting for these hidden musical treasures as they will playing on them.
Battery Urban Farming. Photo courtesy of The Battery
7. Volunteer at the Battery Urban Farm. Aspiring farmers of all ages are welcome to get their hands dirty during the farm's open hours, 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. Ride the "fintastic" carousel. Go for a ride on the SeaGlass Carousel, which opened to great fanfare in summer 2015.
The Battery Woodland. Photo courtesy of The Battery
9. Picnic in the shade. Pack a picnic and enjoy the tranquility of The Battery Woodland, a four-acre lawn shaded by 82 beautiful, mature trees.
Find more great things to do with kids in the Financial District.
A version of this article was originally published in 2014; it has been updated for 2019. Katie Nave Freeman contributed additional reporting.