Although every pocket and corner of Queens has a neighborhood playground (we frequent Playground Thirty-Five multiple times a week), we’ve taken the time to scout the cream of the crop for NYC kids. From Astoria to the Rockaways, with rope spider webs to kid-sized Ferris wheels, these parks offer clean, safe equipment with innovative and fun details that go beyond the metallic jungle gyms of the past.
Looking to make more of a splash? Check out our roundup on top water playgrounds in Queens, or find more playgrounds across the five boroughs in our NYC Parks & Playgrounds guide.
The playgrounds at Gantry State Park serve up harbor views and breezes, along with cool equipment. Photo courtesy of Nathan West
Gantry Plaza State Park Playground — Long Island City
Gantry Plaza State Park’s views are enough reason to visit; the Manhattan skyline across the East River is breathtaking. But if you can peel yourself away from the iconic Pepsi Cola sign, there’s an amazing playground within: The grounds offer tons of space, a rope spider web for climbing, and modern equipment. By the way, the Tot Lot at 48th Avenue and 5th Street just reopened, too, adding additional playgrounds for the little ones, and the adjacent Hunters Point South Park's playgrounds and spraygrounds, too.
RELATED: 10 Things to Do with Kids at the Long Island City Waterfront
The neighborhood fave Paul Raimonda Playground offers sprinklers, climbing, and shady seating.
Paul Raimonda Playground — Long Island City/Astoria
Ongoing renovations at Astoria Heights Playground have dramatically reduced play access, but Paul Raimonda Playground is a great alternative. There’s a large sprinkler area, innovative equipment such as the ring climb, and plenty of shady seating. For older kids in tow, there are also hand ball and basketball courts.
Charybdis Playground — Astoria
Way over, deep in Astoria Park, is Charybdis, a massive space with multiple jungle gym sets and sprinklers. Named after a Greek mythological sea monster, it is an appropriate title for the playground that faces the river and sits near Astoria Park's public pool, in the heart of a historically Greek neighborhood. The bathrooms on premises are seasonal but there are also alternative bathrooms in Astoria Park South.
Juniper Valley Playgrounds (North and South) — Middle Village
The playgrounds in Juniper Valley Park are a delight, especially for younger children. The equipment is colorful and low to the ground, perfect for those still honing their climbing skills, and there are twirling bucket seats and plenty of low, safe slides. There's a bathroom in the North location and alternatives throughout the Park.
All ages can enjoy the massive Playground For All Children!
Playground For All Children — Corona
This popular playground is a destination unto itself. This location offers a toddler-friendly pretend hut town, with schoolhouse and post office included. It's was also designed to accommodate children who use crutches, canes or wheelchairs. One of the playground's goals is to develop social, cognitive, sensory and motor activities and there are plenty of sponsored learning programs that take place year-round. There are swing areas and an expansive jungle gym set, making this playground perfect to serve a kid throughout childhood.
Jurassic Playground — Forest Hills/Flushing
On the west side of Meadow Lake is a small but fun dinosaur-themed playground, a welcome relief for those visiting Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and looking for something less crowded. There are swings for both tots and older kids. Equipment is built to look like the frames of dinosaurs; you can point out Apatosaurus, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, and more.
RELATED: 30 Best Things to Do in Queens with Preschoolers and Toddlers
Hit the circus-themed Beach Channel Playground after the beach in Far Rockaway. Photo courtesy of NYC Parks.
Beach Channel Playground — Far Rockaway
This one-of-a-kind beachfront playground's main attraction is its circus theme, complete with small-kid sized Ferris wheel, but the rocking horses/animals, colorful ground cover and carnival games are also a perfect post-beach treat.
Alley Pond Park Playgrounds — Oakland Gardens
You get three-for-one with Alley Pond Park: Wild Flower Meadow, Horatio Playground, and Alley Pond sit within. Alley Pond offers an adventure course and tree-house-themed set. Horatio has a bathroom as does the rest of the park. With sprinklers and jungle gyms at Wild Flower Meadow and Horatio, let's call this the complete package.
Castlewood Playground — Bellerose/Jamaica
Castlewood is a neighborhood favorite, providing the residents of Eastern Queens with safe, colorful, and clean equipment. There’s a double-slide (perfect for racing) and plenty of monkey bars. In the summer, adjacent PS 186 Free Playground Pool opens for business as do the sprinklers.
Top photo: Playground for All Children. Unless otherwise noted, photos by the author.