Destination Playground: Pier 84 in Hudson River Park
Unfortunately, the circle of sprinklers is not currently operational due to a faulty part. We will update this post once it's up and running again. Calling the water play area at Pier 84 a playground is a bit of a misnomer; it's more like a play space or even a play-scape. Regardless of how you label it, Hudson River Park's 44th Street pier is a cool summer destination, both literally and figuratively.
Nestled between the Circle Line and the hulking Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, the water area is one of many attractions at the pier, which also boasts amenities like bathrooms, a restaurant and shady picnic tables.
Here's how my son and I spent our day on Pier 84.
The first thing your kids may say when they arrive is, "That's it?" Or to quote my six-year-old, "You dragged me across town for this?" Don't worry; encourage them to explore the water area and they'll warm up (or rather, cool off) quickly, just like my son did. There's no play structure or swings or slide. Instead, you'll find three hand-operated water pumps, a small canal carved into the cement, spinning water mills with cups, and a hand-operated fountain that shoots H20 high into the air. The kids have to work pretty hard jumping on a metal box to get the water pumping, but once they do the payoff is awesome. There's also an amazing circle of sprinklers in the plaza that shoots water straight up out of the ground. The sprinklers also play tricks: They turn on and off, make patterns and constantly keep the kids guessing.
I really liked this interactive equipment. It's fun, challenging and inspires kids to get creative. My son and his friend had a blast trying to figure out all of the ways they could manipulate the water, and I saw lots of other children scooping up water with cups, experimenting with the water wheels, damming the streams and activating the sprinklers.
The kids had so much fun, we spent our entire visit in the water section. But Pier 84 has many other attractions.
There's a huge grassy lawn on the west side of the pier that's perfect for sunbathing and picnicking.
If you don't want to bring your own food, hit PD O'Hurley's, an Irish bar/restaurant that offers takeout as well as outdoor dining.
Fishing is also on the menu. Big City Fishing lets kids try catch-and-release fishing in the Hudson with the help of experienced anglers on Tuesdays 1 to 4pm. All equipment is provided. The organization also offers lessons at other Manhattan piers throughout the summer.
Floating the Apple is a group of boat makers that occasionally offer free row boating in the Hudson and other nautical activities. The website is rarely updated so it's best to call 212-564-5412 to find out what's going on.
Bike and Roll also has an outpost on the pier, where you can rent a bicycle or join a cycling tour.
If you decide you need an air-conditioned break, you can check out the Intrepid. (It's not a cheap date though we have some tips for saving on admission.) Or you can play tourist and take a Circle Line or Water Taxi tour.
And let's not forget the bathrooms, which have multiple stalls and are fairly clean, especially for public restrooms!
Except for some seating, most of Pier 84 is completely exposed, so be sure to pack sunscreen. And dress the kids to get wet, of course!
Pier 84 in Hudson River Park is located at 44th Street and the Hudson River.
Get the scoop on other Destination Playgrounds in New York City.